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From M&S to Ralph Lauren and all budgets in between, these sunnies are far from shady

From M&S to Ralph Lauren and all budgets in between, these sunnies are far from shady
Save yourself from squinting with the best sunglasses for all budgets and face shapes from M&S, Polo Ralph Lauren, Mango and more

After hibernating through winter and spring, the sun is starting to rear its head on a regular basis again – well as regular as it gets here in Old Blighty. And that means it’s time to slather on the sun cream and get some new sunglasses to protect our peepers.

Before buying some new sunglasses there are a few considerations to think about though. Firstly, cost, especially if you’re one to consistently leave your belongings sitting on the pub garden table while you’re away at the bar. As you’ll see later, sunglasses prices largely either sit at the sub £20 mark or sail above £100, making a quality pair in the middle of these two price brackets gold dust.

Secondly, UV protection. Look out for “CE” or “ANSI” marked on your shades – usually on one of the temples – which shows that the lenses comply with standards by blocking out 95 per cent of UV rays below 380 nanometres (light is measured in nanometres with damaging UVB rays measuring between 320 and 390 nanometres).

Lastly, consider how the shades look on your face. Those lucky enough to be blessed with an oval face will suit any frame, while square faces should go with round frames and round faces match nicely with square frames. As a very general rule, the shape of your face should be the opposite to that of your sunglasses frames in order to create balance by either softening angular features or creating definition.

Once you have this checklist down, it’s time to move on to the options.

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How we tested

When looking at the best sunglasses for men, we focused primarily on price and the quality of the frames and details. Style is personal, so it was lower down our list of priorities. Hallmarks of a quality pair of sunglasses included springs at the hinges to allow the arms to open wider when worn, and padding at the bridge so that they sit comfortably at the top of your nose.

We road-tested the sunglasses in an array of sunny situations, from bike rides to lounging in the park, and so also considered their practicality and durability while out and about. These are the ones that shone the brightest.

The best sunglasses for men for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Ray-Ban clubmaster classic sunglasses: £137, Ray-ban.com
  • Best for versatility – Cubitts carnegie bold sunglasses: £125, Cubitts.com
  • Best affordable option – Le Specs no biggie sunglasses: £55.80, Lespecs.com
  • Best designer pair – Polo Ralph Lauren sunglasses: £128, Sunglasshut.com
  • Best for a personal touch – SunGod renegades sunglasses: £55, Sungod.co
  • Best for premium quality – Serengeti Nicholson sunglasses: £325, Serengeti-eyewear.com
  • Best for visibility – Bollé vulture sunglasses: £125, Bolle.com
  • Best on the high street – Mango polarized sunglasses: £35.99, Mango.com
  • Best for festivals – Weekday explore rounded sunglasses: £12, Weekday.com
  • Best back-up pair – M&S D frame polarised sunglasses: £15, Marksandspencer.com

Ray-Ban clubmaster classic sunglasses

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

The classics are just that for a reason, and when it comes to sunglasses you can’t beat the Clubmaster. Luckily, it’s not just all hallowed reputation here, and while these do sit at the more expensive end of the Ray-Ban range, you are getting a real high-quality product for your money.

The lacquered acetate frames feel solid and dependable, for example, while the gold accents around the lenses and to the hinges tread are an attractive touch that thankfully don’t stray into gaudy territory. Also, note the padding at the bridge which makes these shades arguably the most comfortable on this list.

Cubitts carnegie bold sunglasses

Best: For versatility

Rating: 10/10

The Brits are a dab hand at crafting well-made, eternally stylish sunglasses, with independent eyewear brand Cubitts sitting on top of a tree that includes other luminaries such as Cutler & Gross, Ollie Quinn, and Kirk Originals. And while the others certainly have their merits, Cubitts stands out among the pack for its price to quality ratio, offering incredibly well-made shades that will last a decade, and some, at a snip over the £100 mark.

The Carnegie Bold is a thick, well-made frame and while it might not pack the same gold-rimmed thrills as the Ray-Ban Clubmaster (£137, Ray-ban.com), it makes up for it in its perfect simplicity. This adds a great deal to the versatility of the shades, which are smart enough to be worn to a summer wedding, just as they are casual enough to be donned down at the pub.

Le Specs no biggie sunglasses

Best: Affordable option

Rating: 9/10

Affordable quality is hard to find in men’s sunglasses. Attempting to bridge the gap between high street pick-up and lasting investment is Le Specs. Now, contrary to the gallic-sounding name, Le Specs is an Australian eyewear brand, and hence knows quite a bit about protecting your eyes from the blazing sun. As such you’ll find category 3 UV protection, which is a touch above the industry standard, as well as polarized lenses to eliminate unwanted reflective glare.

The lenses and frames might not have the same heft to them as other more expensive options on this list, but style-wise this is an attractive pair of shades that will fit most tastes and outfits, and all at a price point that will also attract the majority of wallets out there.

Polo Ralph Lauren sunglasses

Best: Designer pair

Rating: 9/10

Ralph Lauren is synonymous with timeless, preppy style so it’s no surprise to see it come up with a fine pair of tortoiseshell sunglasses. The frames are thick without appearing clunky and are clearly built to last, while the lenses offer 100 per cent UV protection – a worthwhile technical spec that shows this isn’t just a slap-a-logo-on-it-and-be-done job.

Talking of that iconic polo player logo, Ralph Lauren has done well here to keep it relatively discrete – as befits the brand – finishing off a fine pair of sunglasses for someone who wants to buy that touch of quality they can show off.

SunGod renegades sunglasses

Best: For a personal touch

Rating: 9/10

The self-aggrandising name might be off-putting for some, but don’t let that pull you away from what is not just a great pair of shades, but a fun shopping experience to boot. You see, a big part of the SunGod brand comes in the personalisation aspect. Not only can you choose the quality and spec of your lenses, but SunGod also lets you change the colour of the frames, lenses, and logo.

Out of these factors it’s the vivid reflective lenses which really steal the show, making them a stand out on this list. And the matte frames have a long-standing, potentially scratch-proof durability to them. Bold and hardy, these would be a great option for adventurous types looking to attract envious glances on their next climb.

Serengeti Nicholson sunglasses

Best: For premium quality

Rating: 9/10

If you’ve got the money, and you’re after something special, then Serengeti should be your first port of call.

Renowned for the technical innovation it has brought to the industry in its lifetime, the born in the USA brand is understated luxury personified, and beloved by those in the know. These shades then are unarguably the best quality on this list, with exceptional levels of detail from the chamfered edges by the hinges to the frames crafted out of a cellulose acetate made from 100 per cent FSC certified crops, all of which come together to create a pair of shades that could theoretically last a lifetime.

And so, while the catwalk-ready slim-lined shape won’t be to everyone’s tastes, and neither will the price tag, you can see where the added value here is from options half the price.

Bollé vulture sunglasses

Best: For visibility

Rating: 9/10

Born in France at the tail end of the 19th century, Bollé is a true innovator in the world of performance sunglasses and goggles, pioneering many important facets of the modern-day industry, like moulded nylon.

A number of top athletes from the worlds of cycling, snow sports, golf and sailing are regular wearers of the brand, and really the first thing to notice is the incredible visibility offered through the photochromic lens, bringing a field of vision that’s as close to not having to wear sunglasses as you can get. Incredibly lightweight and comfortable to boot, they completely take out the distraction from wearing sunglasses.

If you’re serious about your sport then, and looking for something to protect your sight, and keep it firmly on any incoming or outgoing balls, these are truly the shades for you – albeit at that slight premium price point you’d expect with the high-performance specs.

Mango polarized sunglasses

Best: On the high street

Rating: 8/10

While there are plenty of options on the high street, it’s hard to find a pair of sunglasses that can compete quality-wise with the specialist brands while also retaining the oh-so-attractive price point. That is until we came across these handsome sunnies from Mango, made out of recycled plastic for added eco cred and complete with 100 per cent UV protection.

Like the Le Specs shades, you can tell the quality difference between these and a pair of shades above the £100 mark – mainly from the weight of the frames – but for a stylish pick-up that will suit most face shapes, these are certified crowd-pleasers.

Weekday explore rounded sunglasses

Best: For festivals

Rating: 8/10

With the sun, comes the festivals, and the need for a pair of sunnies that won’t just slot in with your stylish party-ready garms, but also are relatively inexpensive should you lose, drop, or crush them in your bid to get to the front of the main stage.

Enter these John Lennon-esque specs from Scandi high street stalwart Weekday. With their thin, wiry frames, they’re arguably the least durable on the list – we wouldn’t expect them to last many drops in the mud let’s put it that way.

But that’s not what they’re designed for. Fun is the operative word here, and they’ll certainly look knock-out alongside a breezy patterned shirt, while also being surprisingly comfy thanks to the padded bridge. Plus at the price point you can afford to have a couple of spares handy, should the inevitable happen.

M&S D frame polarised sunglasses

Best: Backup pair

Rating: 7/10

Talking of backup pairs, here’s another stellar option to consider. M&S has always been a great place to buy quality, can’t-go-wrong pieces after all, and especially when it comes to its basics. These shades come with category 3 UV protection, making them more than up to the job for even the sunniest of summer holidays, while the attractive shade of olive is striking without compromising on versatility.

Once again, there is a quality gap here between the sturdy feel of the lenses and frames on the more expensive end, versus what you’re getting here – but for a tenth of the price, it simply is a matter of what you want and need. So, if you’re looking for a good backup pair, these will not disappoint.

The verdict: Sunglasses for men

While the Le Specs no biggie sunglasses are an attractive proposition because of the substantial price difference, if you’re looking to make an investment for many summers to come it’s hard to overlook Ray-Ban or Cubitts for their timeless style and quality.

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