The 10 Best Men's Sunglasses
A Future So Bright...
At any given moment, the sun burns at an impressive 5,778 degrees Kelvin, which is just under 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That's hot. Yet, if you asked a child to draw a cool sun, he or she could do so easily. "How," you ask, "how could anyone, let alone a child, draw a cool sun when the sun burns so hot?" Well, that's easy; you draw it wearing sunglasses.
Sunglasses are the ultimate statement of cool. Whether you're cyborg Arnold Schwarzenegger covering up your glowing red robot eye or Tom Cruise alternatingly singing in your underpants and flying Grumman F-14 Tomcats against the Russians, there is no more memorable accessory to convey nonchalance or badness that reaches all the way to the bone.
What is it about sunglasses, though, that makes you look so much better in them than out of them? It turns out there are a few factors at work here, not least of which is symmetry. Human beings find symmetrical faces more attractive to asymmetrical faces. A well-made pair of dark sunglasses immediately takes any symmetrical problems in your eyes and eliminates them.
Then, there's the added psychological benefit of mystery. Mystery is one of the great aphrodisiacs, and not being able to see someone's eyes clouds them in the most wonderful sense of the unknown. The very desire to know, the curiosity they present to us, is irresistible.
The last variable is a cultural one, and we started out by talking about it. People we admire, cultural icons to whose status we daily aspire, populate our daily news feeds and entertainment journalism with images of themselves clad in classic and contemporary shades.
At the end of the day, who doesn't want to be a little bit cooler?
A Polarizing Issue
Now that we've come to a deeper understanding of the secret powers held by every pair of sunglasses out there, there's still the matter of finding the pair that will serve you best. After all that talk of looking great, it's possible that you aren't one to go in for vanity. You might be all about function over form. Thankfully, each pair of shades on our list offers good looks as well as high function.
One of the most commonly sought after features in a modern pair of sunglasses is polarization, and understanding a bit about how polarization works will let you know if it's a feature you want to incorporate into your purchase. To grasp the concept of polarization, we have to talk about glare.
Light scatters in multiple directions, but when a large light source (the sun, for example) has its entirety reflected in a much smaller implement, its light reflects back out in a harsh horizontal line we perceive as glare. Polarized sunglasses have a coating on them that absorbs and distributes incoming horizontal light, drastically reducing glare and protecting your eyes.
The only problem with it is that sometimes you want to see that horizontal light. Pilots and boaters, for instance, need to see the reflections off other boats or planes to avoid unexpected collisions with other craft. LCD screens also put out horizontal light to communicate their information to you, so a lot of modern car displays, gas pumps, and televisions are invisible to you through a pair of polarized lenses.
Once you've decided whether or not to go polarized, the decision comes down to style more than anything else. I've always been a wayfarer man, as the shape suits my features better than anything else. For the record, I have a longer face with a square jaw. Rounder faces, or square jaws on shorter faces, often look better in wider rims like the wrap styles further down the list.
Eyes Through Ivory
Before anyone figured out how to tint glass to protect the human eye from the sun, the Inuit people of Alaska and the Canadian Arctic regions developed an elegant solution for protective eye-wear. Presumably, faced with the immeasurable glare firing off the surface of an endless tundra on a cloudless day, somebody put his or her hands up to shield them from the onslaught.
The problem there, of course, is that you can't see through your hands. But this brilliant Inuit cracked two fingers apart just enough, and could see a good bit of the space before them without losing the comfort his hands provided. I imagine it was important to have both of your hands available to you in the frozen north, though, so somebody else came along and cut two narrow slits into a flat piece of walrus tusk, then tied it to his head with a strip of hide. The first sunglasses were born.
We have to go to 12th century China to find glass that had been intentionally tinted to protect the eyes of its users, though shades of untreated crystal show up in ancient accounts of Chinese and Roman royalty.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, medical professionals in the west experimented with shades of tinted glass in the treatment of a great many maladies. After the advent of cinema and the establishment of Hollywood and its stars, celebrities adopted the technology as a means of concealing their identities from fans, forever solidifying the marriage between sunglasses and the great heights of our society.