Silver Screen Shades: 20 Best Movie Sunglasses

Sunglasses have always more about signifying style and attitude then they’ve been about sun protection. Each pair has its own unique mood – whether its flamboyant, aggressive, or relaxed. The breadth of personalities that can be channeled by sunglasses is a large part of why it can be so fun to try on pairs in a mirror or with friends – simply by picking a pair up and sliding them on, one can briefly become a different version of themselves.

Hollywood, where there is a lot of money to be made by putting on different personalities, has had a long and loving relationship with sunglasses. Sure, it’s sunny in Southern California, but the real reason directors, stylists, and actors find themselves drawn to sunglasses is because it allows them to communicate something to their audience. Sometimes its as simple and unthinking as ‘look how cool I am’, while other times sunglasses can be used as a tool to help the audience better understand a character.

Inevitably, we end up falling in love with these props in much the same way we swoon over the actors that wear them. The only difference between the two? You can track down a great pair of sunglasses without getting a restraining order. And that is exactly what we did here in our roundup of the best movie sunglasses.  Take a scroll through to see whether the pair you always wanted make an appearance.

Beverly Hills Cop

Vintage 1980s Porsche Design Carrera

Eddie Murphy’s shades in Beverley Hills Cop were, at the time of filming, cool, sharp, and able to switch to fit the situation – much like the character he payed. Made by Porsche Design, the sunglasses had the ability to easily switch out lenses. That meant without tools, the owner could simply pull out one pair of colored lenses, and throw in a different pair. While they aren’t being made today, it isn’t hard to find them on online auction sites.

Director: Martin Brest
Released: 1984

Purchase: $140+

Blues Brothers

Ray Ban Original Wayfarer Classics

Wayfarers are, alongside the Clubmaster, quite possibly the most frequently donned shades in the movie business. Developed in 1956, they were worn by musicians like Bob Dylan, actors like James Dean, and of course, by funny men John Belushi and Dan Akyroyd in this classic film. So while you could point to a dozen different examples of Ray Bans appearing in famous movies, none really beats out this comedy.

Director: John Landis
Released: 1980

Purchase: $153

Cobra

Ray Ban Outdoorsman

You’ve likely never heard of Cobra. That is probably for the better. The mid-1980s Stallone vehicle is just about as bad as they come. Those shades, however, are a different story. In fact, the wire-framed aviators may be the only redeeming part of this rote Hollywood shoot-em-up. They’re still made by Ray Ban, though we couldn’t find any with those cool blue-mirrored lenses.

Director: George P. Cosmatos
Released: 1986

Purchase: $153

Dirty Harry

Ray Ban Balorama

Eastwood’s Harry Callahan is a cop so tough that he can shoot down criminals in the street while chewing on a sandwich And his choice in shades? As dead on as his aim. You can still pick up the early 1970s shades from Ray Ban online

Director: Don Siegel
Released: 1971

Purchase: $193

Drive

Selima Optique Money 2

Drive was such an arresting movie, and Gosling’s unnamed driver so charismatic, that after seeing the film – full grown men went out and bought jackets with gigantic gold scorpions on the back. We’re happy to tell you, there is a more reasonable way to channel the style of Nicolas Winding Refn’s protagonist – by snagging a pair of his shades.

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Released: 2011

Purchase: $385

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Ray Ban Clubmasters

Not a kid alive didn’t, at one point, want to be Ferris Bueller. The whip-smart teen and his antics won over an entire generation and then some. The movie still stands up as one of the greats to this day, much like the timeless shades Broderick’s character threw on while driving around Chicago in a red drop-top sports car.

Director: John Hughes
Released: 1986

Purchase: $203

Fight Club

Oliver Peoples 523

The nihilism and post Cold War boredom of the 1990s was distilled nowhere better than in David Fincher’s rendition of Chuck Palahniuk’s great novel Fight Club. The dark, violent story stayed more or less true to the book, but distinguished itself in large part because of the striking visuals and sounds (cue The Pixies). Exploding buildings, clashing outfits, and Tyler Durden’s weirdo sunglasses all contributed to that. Like the rest of his personality, they are brash, wild, and clashing.

Director: David Fincher
Released: 1999

Purchase: $700+

Leon, The Professional

Jean Paul Gaultier 58-00072

Despite being made nearly 24 years ago, Besson’s character Leon is just about the spitting image of every freelance designer or web developer that works out of your neighborhood cafe. Sure, those hipsters may not kill for a living while still somehow having a heart of gold, but they definitely rock the look. The exact pair of sunglasses worn by Jean Reno in this early ’90s film are incredibly hard to find these days, but if you keep your eye out for a pair – they may pop up on eBay or other auction sites.

Director: Luc Besson
Released: 1994

Purchase: $900+

Men In Black

Ray Ban 2030 Predator

If the theme song for this movie immediately came to mind when you scrolled down to see this image, then you likely remember the frenzy around the movie sunglasses that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones wore in Men In Black. These alien fighting super-spooks helped redefine what cool sunglasses looked like, and all while protecting earth from deep space monsters.

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Released: 1997

Purchase: $193

North By Northwest

Vintage Tart Arnel Frames

Out of all of Hollywood’s leading men, Cary Grant remains among the coolest. He had a laid back, cool demeanor to him, but wasn’t too casual. A good distillation of his style, in fact, were the shades he wore in North By Northwest. The exact make and model of these sunglasses are much debated over – but from the research we did, it seems most likely that they were Tart Arnel frames. They can still be bought today, though they’re displayed on Tart’s site as having clear lenses.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Released: 1959

Price On Request

Reservoir Dogs

Ray Ban Clubmaster

The scene of the gang doomed criminals walking out of a diner at the start of Reservoir Dogs, all with their shades on, is perhaps among the most iconic in all of Hollywood’s history. That’s saying something for an industry that makes its dough by creating moments and scenes. That is why we felt we had to include these sunglasses – even though they were already included above.

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Released: 1992

Purchase: $203

Skyfall

Tom Ford Marko TF144

When the costume designers began the task of putting together the most dapper spy in the world’s outfit – Bond watches and all – they also had to answer the question of what pair of sunglasses to have him wear. Should he go with something classic, or with something a little more contemporary. Well, they split the difference and gave him a pair of aviators made by one of the most well respected designers working today, Tom Ford.

Director: Sam Mendes
Released: 2012

Purchase: $395

Terminator

Gargoyles Classic

Arnold Schwarzeneggers breakout roll barely featured any dialog. It was just a lot of shots of him looking menacing and muscular. The pair of sunglasses he donned to help him do all of that scary-robot-ing? Gargoyles. The bulky glasses are still available today, though not quite in the exact same style as they appears in the mid 1980s classic.

Director: James Cameron
Released: 1984

Purchase: $100

The Big Lebowski

Vuarnet 03

For how chill and laid back The Dude is, his movie sunglasses were pretty high-end. Originally created in the 1960s, these big framed sunglasses have a kind of lovable quality to them not dissimilar from Bridge’s characters chilled-out protagonist.

Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Released: 1998

Purchase: $200

The Color Of Money

Vintage Cartier Aviators

As is always the case with gamblers, things at some point go south. When the relationship between Paul Newman and Tom Cruise’s characters do just that in The Color of Money, it is settled in a dramatic, televised game of pool. The pair of shades Newman wears while pocketing balls? Cartier.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Released: 1986

Purchase: $200+

The Hangover

Official BluBlocker Aviators

Not only have we all seen these sunglasses on Zack Galifianakis’ fuzzy mug, but we’ve seen them at pretty much every single costume party for the last decade or so. And fair enough. While BluBlockers definitely have a cornball vibe to them, they’re a fun oversized addition to anyone’s collection of shades.

Director: Todd Phillips
Released: 2009

Purchase: $32

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Thierry Lasry Bowery

Spy movies, in large part because of Bond’s influence, always embrace the fashion of the time. So when the costume department was putting together items to be worn in Ritchie’s reboot of an old Spy Vs. Spy film, they were sure to include some 1960s-looking movie sunglasses for Cavill to sport.

Director: Guy Ritchie
Released: 2015

Purchase: $475

The Thomas Crown Affair

Persol PO0714SM

If this list had been cut in half, we would’ve still included these Persol’s worn by McQueen. The blue-lensed shades are just about as classic as they come – and for what it is worth, they’re still pretty stylish even by today’s standards. While finding the exact blue-lensed version the king of cool sported in the late ‘60s film is a little difficult, they’re definitely still out there.

Director: Guy Ritchie
Released: 2015

Purchase: $400

They Live

Retro Superfuture Flat Top

Out of all of our picks in this list, this pair of movie sunglasses plays the most pivotal roll in the movie they appear in. Once our protagonist George Nada puts them on, they reveal the world is being controlled by aliens and their sneaky, suggestive advertising. We couldn’t find the exact pair that Nada wears in the movie, but our closest guess was this pair from Retro Superfuture.

Director: John Carpenter
Released: 1988

Purchase: $175

Top Gun

Randolph Engineering Concorde

Flyin’ jets and riding motorcycles in and above San Diego required only the best in eye protection, so naturally a young Tom Cruise gravitated towards Randolph Engineering’s American made sunglasses. These aviators widely loved not only because they were built right here in the states, but because they capture the timeless style perfectly.

Director: Tony Scott
Released: 1986

Purchase: $230

5 Best American Made Sunglasses

Looking for some domestic shades? There aren’t a whole lot of companies out there doing it. That’s why we felt it was worthwhile to pull together the few that do it well in to a roundup of the best American Made Sunglasses.

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