A Guide to Buying Sunglasses Online

ray-ban sunglasses and apple keyboard on desk

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My dad always says, “Variety is the spice of life,” and when it comes to sunglasses, I would have to agree. For years while shopping for sunglasses in traditional brick-and-mortar stores, I always got the feeling that there were so many more options out there I wasn’t finding.

Lucky for us, online glasses retailers have more than made up for that FOMO feeling by offering the widest range of sunglasses you’ll ever find in one place. If you want to learn how to find your perfect pair of sunglasses, follow along below, and you’ll be styling with your new pair of shades in no time.

Let’s Start Shopping!

If you’ve ever purchased glasses without trying them on, you know how difficult it is. The good news is online glasses stores have figured out some creative and fun ways to help us try on frames without ever leaving your house.

Technology Has Entered The Chat!

The virtual try-on feature will forever change the way you shop for eyewear. This try-on technology digitally places any frame you select on your face using augmented reality (AR).

No more feeling uncomfortable asking a salesperson to show you fifty frames so you can choose one. Unlike shopping in-store, you can try on as many pairs of sunglasses, for as long as you like, wherever you happen to be.

Home Try-Ons

While virtual try-ons are great, there’s nothing like physically trying a pair of sunglasses on for size. Some retailers like Warby Parker will actually ship a few pairs of glasses to you to try on from the comfort of your home – all for free!

Their free home try-on program allows you to try on up to 5 pairs of glasses or sunglasses for 5 days, and then return them with the prepaid shipping label.

Once you’ve decided on the frame(s) you like, simply buy it and they’ll ship a brand new pair to you. There’s no obligation to purchase, so if you don’t like any of them, just package them up and return the sample frames.

Try 5 Frames Before You Buy

Selecting The Best Sunglasses For You

Many online shops offer a fit and style quiz to help you narrow down the vast selection of frames they offer. It’s usually a fun questionnaire designed to get to know your preferences in eyewear.

You’ll be asked questions like color preferences, favorite frame style, and face shape to name a few. The extra few minutes you spend answering the questions will save you tons of time in your search for the perfect sunglass frame.

Identify Your Style

man in suit and browline sunglasses

Are you a conservative dresser? Do you avoid drawing attention to yourself? Then you would probably enjoy a more classic style.

Choose a basic color like black or a tortoiseshell brown and a traditional frame shape.

Ray-Ban Clubmaster in Tortoise

Or do you have to buy accessories to match every outfit? Do you scour fashion magazines to learn the latest fashion trends? Then, a stylish pair of sunglasses is exactly what you need.

blond woman wearing trendy red sunglasses

Head straight to the “new releases” section and choose a frame that will match your new seasonal wardrobe. Some of my favorite trends are bold oversized frames and colorful, eye-catching lenses.

If you’re like me and like to have fun with your sunglass collection, then edgy and avante-garde is what you’re after. Turn heads all day long with the brightest colors and most unusual eyewear shapes.

Vint & York COPA

Try on Virtually

Identify Your Face Shape

We stare at our faces all the time but never really think of them as any particular shape. Analyzing your face shape will help you narrow down the hundreds of styles that will pop up during your search. Following the guide below will help you select a style to fit your face shape.

Oval/Oblong – Very symmetrical face features

ideal sunglass shapes for oval face

Best Glasses for Oval Faces

sunglass shapes for oblong face
  • Most frames work well with this face shape
  • Avoid smaller, more narrow frames as they will accentuate the length of the face

Best Glasses for Oblong Faces

Rectangle/SquareSquare jawline, broad forehead

sunglass shapes for rectangle face
sunglass shape for square face
  • Frames with angles or geometric shapes will take attention away from a prominent jawline
  • Rounded frames are recommended.

Best Glasses for Square Faces

Triangle (A-Triangle)Forehead more narrow than the jawline

sunglass shape for A triangle face
  • Cat eye frames will draw attention away from the jawline and add balance
  • Frames with a prominent brow bar will draw attention to the forehead

RoundBroad at the temples, high cheekbones

sunglass shape for round face
  • A more squared-off frame is recommended
  • Geometric shapes add balance
  • Avoid oversized frames that rest on the cheeks

Best Glasses for Round Faces

Inverted Triangle (Heart-Shaped Face) Forehead wider than the jawline

sunglass shape for heart-shaped face
  • Aviator shapes or frames with a brow bar focus the attention away from the jawline
  • Rimless or semi-rimless frames are recommended

Best Glasses for Heart Shaped Faces

A good rule of thumb is to choose a frame that is the opposite of your face shape. For example, if you have a rounder face, a more squared-off shape will balance your features.

Another tip to finding glasses that fit well is finding a style with a similar size to your current frame. You can find the size of any frame on the inside of either of the frames’ temples:

glasses frame with measurements on temple arm

The first number is the lens size, and the second number is the bridge size. The last number printed is the temple length. The temple length is always a three-digit number (for ex: 140, 145).

Knowing your ideal frame size can help you find a sunglass with similar sizing to your current pair.

Prescription Sunglasses

Yes. Prescription sunglasses are a thing. Just because you need prescription lenses doesn’t mean you can’t wear cool sunglasses.

Your eyes need UV protection from the sun’s damaging rays anytime you step outdoors. You can order prescription lenses for your new frame by following the steps below.

How To Order Rx Glasses Online

Upload Your Prescription

hand holding smartphone with upload screen

There are a few options for sharing your current prescription with an online retailer. You’ll either be asked to upload a copy of your prescription or enter it manually. Some companies will even call your eye doctor for you if you don’t have your prescription on hand.

Uploading your prescription is the best option for avoiding any data entry mishaps. All the numbers and symbols on an eyeglass prescription can be challenging to read at times.

Also, make sure your pupillary distance (or P.D.) is noted on your prescription. You can’t complete the order without it.

All the standard lens options available for your regular glasses can be ordered in a sunglass version. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind.

In larger frames with stronger prescriptions, thinner lenses, also referred to as hi-index, are recommended. The larger the frame, the thicker and heavier your lenses can become.

Heavily wrapped frames are tricky when used for prescription lenses. When a prescription lens surface is too curved, it will cause visual distortion and affect the optical clarity.

Maui Jim Barrier Reef Wrap Sunglasses

If you are ordering progressive lenses, keep in mind that a too dark lens will interfere with your reading ability if you are not in a well-lit location.

Lens Add-ons

Lens add-ons are where you can have fun with your eyewear order. These optional upgrades allow you to customize your frame and make it your own.

Lens Tints

Lens tints come in all different colors, from grey and brown to blue and rose. A gradient tint that fades gradually from darker on the top to lighter on the bottom is a popular feature of fashion sunglasses.

Ray-Ban Square Sunglasses with Gradient Tint

Lens Coatings

Before choosing lens coatings, know that they can be both functional and fashionable.

Anti-reflective coatings are the most common for sunglasses. They help reduce reflective glare from the lens surface. An anti-glare coating is also effective when applied to the back surface of a sunglass lens.

Want to add a little pizzazz to your glasses? Do so by adding a mirrored coating.

You can transform a basic gray lens with the addition of a sparkly colored coating. Mirrored coatings also add an extra layer of protection by reflecting away some more of those damaging sun rays.

Special Sunglass Materials

If you want crystal clear vision in the brightest conditions, polarized lenses are for you. Polarized lenses are a premium lens option for both prescription and non-prescription sun lenses. They reduce the glare that reflects off of flat surfaces.

If you want to ditch the two-separate-pairs-of-glasses life, you might want to consider ordering Transitions® or photochromic lenses.

These lenses darken when exposed to the sunlight and change back to clear when you go indoors. They are available in various tint colors.

Once you find an online eyeglass retailer that offers a variety of frames that suit your style, your virtual shopping cart will be overflowing with great options.

Finally, be sure to check the return/exchange policy before purchasing in case your new sunglasses don’t work out for you.