The countdown has begun. As we continue to cruise through Fall’s colorful transition we notice that with each passing day the sun gets a little lower and the trees a little barer. We can sense it in the air, feel it cut through our jackets with every icy gust of wind. The Winter Solstice is still six weeks away but we’re already unpacking our down coats, long underwear, and beanies in preparation to weather the upcoming season. Ironically, however, one vital piece of winter equipment tends to get habitually overlooked this time of year. We’re talking sunglasses.
Despite popular opinion, winter does necessitate a strong pair of shades. Yes, the days are short and the sun not as strong, but it’s the very angle of the sun in the sky that has the potential to damage the eye in ways the summer sun simply cannot. And it’s because of this low angle that we’re exposed to more direct UV rays. There’s also snowpack this time of year, which is known to reflect up to 85% of the sun’s UV rays upward directly into our eyes, the strength of which is compounded as elevation increases. It’s suggested then that we wear sunglasses at all hours of the day outdoors, specifically those with gray, mirrored, amber, or black lenses. These greatly reduce, or even block entirely, the amount of harmful rays that penetrate their stylish barriers. Not sure what you’re looking for? Not a problem. We’re concerned about our vision as well. Which is why we felt a list of the best winter sunglasses was necessary before the sun gets any lower, and our eyes anymore damaged.
Warby Parker Lowry
It is quite difficult to discuss pairs of sunglasses without dropping Warby Parker’s name in the process. And why not? They’re fashionable, durable, and right on the money when it comes to their price point. Take these Lowry sunglasses for example. They feature a bold frame with a straight brow and come equipped with premium polarized CR-39 lenses for maximum clarity and 100 percent UV protection. Also, when you throw some anti-scratch coating, a custom cellulose acetate construction, and hand polishing before shipment you simply can’t go wrong.
Ace & Tate Murry Black Forest
Much like a solid pair of aviators, you can rarely make a misstep with a set of wayfarers. Couple that with Ace & Tate’s reputation for quality and these Murray shades are sure to last you for many winters. They features a high-quality cellulose acetate frame – handmade in Italy no less – synthetic lenses boasting scratch resistance and UV protection, and sturdy barrel hinges that are bound to stand up to the inevitable wear and tear.
Old school, new school, urban trendsetters. Classic Ray-Bans don’t discriminate, especially when it comes to the Clubmaster, and you simply can’t knock that mid-century look. This pair comes with an acetate frame, host a set of polarized lenses that are both scratch and impact resistant and adjustable nose pads for enhanced comfort. They’re a pair that simply won’t go out of style. Plus they’re Ray-bans. Need we say more?
Raen Optics Saint Malo
With stylish round frames, 100 percent UV protection and outfitted with CR-39 Carl Zeiss lenses for precision optics, these RAEN Saint Malo sunglasses are a solid choice. They allude to the beatnik poets and vagabonds of urban bohemia, and with a matte black frame and dark green lenses they’ll also fit right in with the low winter light that’s bound to envelope our everyday lives for the next few months. Sounds gloomy right? Well, at least this pair of shades boasting lightweight Zyl acetate frames will brighten your spirits.
There aren’t many brands out there who can say with confidence that they’ve been an American-made company since the end of the Civil War. Shuron, however, can make such a statement, manufacturing frames for WWII Army Troops before the coveted look made its way into the mainstream. They feature the classic Ronsir frame, complete with grey lenses to match, are distortion free, boast a Clubmaster-type style, and no doubt emulate that classic Southern California movie-star attitude with confidence.
For those who favor a bit of the more outdoorsy look, there’s the Canby from Shwood. They boast a classic wayfarer styling and are built from sustainably harvested wood from supervised plantations across the globe. Out of here, only the finest lumber is then selected in order to provide each pair with their smooth grain patterns and rich woodsy tones. Add Carl Zeiss lenses and a birch core into the mix and you have one seriously attractive pair of shades that are ready to take on the outdoors.
If we’re to take names literally, RetroSuperFuture does a great job offering transparency in what they create. Taking their design from decades past and repurposing them in a futuristic aesthetic, they’re the Greenwich Village of the sunglasses world. The 49er, in particular, offers an incredibly simple aesthetic with premium acetate construction and a frame that’s finished with a sporty sweat bar over the bridge. They also feature gold-plated stainless steel metal accents, a hand-laid acetate construction, and come with genuine Carl Zeiss lenses.
Northern Lights Optic NL 6
Whether you’re hiking the treacherous peaks of Mt. Everest or simply a fan of the whole retro steampunk movement, this pair of NL 6 sunglasses from Northern Lights Optic offer one hell of a statement. They feature the highest optic quality around, blocking out any and all harmful rays and reflections from the sun, a deep profile, custom wireframe, removable leather side shields and can be retrofit with prescription lenses as well. Pretty cool right? I mean, what more can you expect from a pair of shades inspired by vintage mountaineering glasses.
Spanish for “crowned” it’s quite apparent how these chocolate gold aviator-style sunglasses got their name. The style, while highly repurposed these days, still pays tribute to the military excellence of those who first pioneered the look. This pair, built by Randolph right here in the USA, offers 100 percent UVA/UVB protection, are rated for driving, built to rigid military spec standards and come with anti-reflective back coated lenses. Buyers can also opt for a custom laser engraving on each pair as well.
Garrett Leight Grayson Sun
What started out in Venice Beach back in 2011 has since extended its influence across the US and both oceans in five short years. Garret Leight California Optical offers both prescription lenses and casual sunglasses wrapped in a stylish aesthetic for a fraction of the high fashion price point. And these Grayson Sun shades are just that, an oversized acetate frame with metal temple plaques, square contours, and boast both an anti-reflective coating and UV protection. Best part of all, they also take custom orders if their extensive stock list doesn’t offer exactly what you’re looking for.
Persol Steve McQueen
No one exhumes cool like Steve McQueen. And if for some reason that name doesn’t ring a bell go ahead and look him up. This motorcycle riding, gun-slinging king of cool knew how to dress as well, always rocking his pair of Persols. They’re polarized, designed for comfort and boast an acetate frame that’s wrapped around a pair of brown lenses. Perfect for protecting your eyes from those harmful winter rays, also perfect to just wear whenever. Yeah, they’re that cool.
Oliver Peoples Braedon
If you’re the type of person who looks toward the likes of Jay-Z and Robert Downey Jr. for style tips, then we’d consider it wise to pick up a pair of these Oliver Peoples sunglasses. They’re crafted in the classic aviator-style and made from tortoiseshell acetate and gold-tone metal. Each pair of Braedon’s also offers 100 percent UV protection and are fitted with dark brown lenses for ample protection from that pesky winter sunlight.
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