Eyewear is more than just an adornment to help you see more clearly, or to shade your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Optical frames and sunglasses are a statement of personal style. A good pair of sunnies not only makes you more comfortable, but also more confident.
Picking the right pair of frames for an occasion – or an outfit – is like selecting the perfect wine to complement your meal. You wouldn’t drink moscato with a slow-cooked duck-ragu pasta, for example. There’s an ideal frame for specific occasions, and over time you can build a versatile collection that will equip you for almost any scenario.
I’m fortunate enough to have a large range of frames to choose from each day – I design them for a living. But I still have some favourites produced by labels other than my own. Here are my recommendations for frames for different outings.
A great frame for a casual Saturday stroll is one that’s comfortable and understated, but also high quality. This is also a pair you'll be wearing a lot, so it's worth spending a little extra for high-end materials and craftsmanship. Our Dover style in vintage gold with a polarised lens ($195) will elevate any T-shirt and chino combination.
For sunglasses obsessives, the Alland frame by US label Oliver Peoples (in black with a green lens) is the ideal casual frame. Made in Japan, this vintage-style frame is made from titanium and acetate (making them lightweight, durable and comfortable). Although the colour combo is understated – matte black with a dark-green lens – the combination as a whole has a refreshing sense of simplicity. These sunglasses retail for $821. That's a lot for a pair of sunnies but its reflective of high quality and high design that will endure for a lifetime.
We all need a good pair of shades for the beach that protect our eyes from the sun’s harmful UV while being simultaneously stylish. There are two things to bear in mind here. On the one hand, you don’t want anything too expensive. The beach is a harsh environment for your shades: sand can scratch the lens; salt water can rust metals; and if you’re really unlucky, they might get swiped while you’re taking a dip. On the other hand, you want to ensure you’re buying something of enough quality to endure those harsh conditions. It’s likely an ultra-cheap pair of frames will have an ultra-cheap set of lenses in them. And when you’re lying under the sun for long periods of time, you want those eyes properly protected.
Pacifico Optical’s Yacht Master style in champagne, with a brown polarised lens, is the perfect middle ground. The glasses have a polarised Carl Zeiss lens with anti-scratch (and anti-reflective) coatings, and a nickel-silver steel frame. The steel resists corrosion, the lens blocks out 100 per cent of the sun’s UV (and eliminates water glare and reflections) and the anti-scratch coating protects your lens from sand and other beach elements that might scuff things up.
I rarely wear a suit in my line of work but our Hardy chocolate optical frame ($115) is my go-to when I’m wearing a blazer and shirt to a more formal meeting. The Hardy comes with a thin frame, which is almost Wayfarer-like in shape, making it quite subtle but perfect for dressing up a smart outfit. And the choc Havana colour gives the frames some refined elegance. The best part? When leaving a meeting or the office and heading outside, you can pull the foldable, polarised sun clip-on lens from your pocket and add them to your Hardy frame on the run.
Daytime gigs or festivals
Let’s face it, if you’re heading to a gig or a music festival there’s a 95 per cent chance you’re going to either ruin or lose your sunglasses. If you are in that small percentage of responsible people (and you’re likely to get home early, shades intact) my hat is off to you. For all you others, I recommend picking up some cheaper frames so losing your expensive ones don’t put a dampener on your day.
The affordable-eyewear market has recently opened up, and direct-to-consumer brands are mass-producing decent quality shades on the cheap. US brand Prive Revaux makes quality shades under the $100 mark. The Classic frame is my number-one pick for festivals and it’s less than $50. I personally feel more comfortable in a classic frame like this – it’s a thicker style so if you beat them around they can withstand it.
Before thinking about which sunnies to wear to any wedding, start with the suit and match your eyewear back afterwards so that it’s all complementary.
When suiting up, the finer details make all the difference. Don’t neglect the the final touches: watch, sunnies and shoes are key to lifting any man’s suit game. For weddings I have a few go-to suits I rotate between: a simple navy two-button suit, and a sand-coloured linen two-button suit ideal for summer weddings. I wear the latter with a plain white shirt, a pair of black leather loafers and a classic, sleek timepiece with a brown leather strap.
My ideal shades to add to this combo are Pacifico’s Blair style. The thin frame makes them light and ensures they’re not too overstated – you don’t want to introduce statement sunglasses that will overpower your outfit. Having something classy, classic and subtle will complement your suit without being too overbearing.
It might seem like a throwaway requirement, but having a decent pair of driving sunglasses is essential. Whether you’re driving a 2009 Mitsubishi Magna or a 1962 convertible Ferrari having a quality pair of frames can make a massive difference to how you see the road and how comfortable you are in the driver’s seat. The lens makes all the difference between a pair of “driving” eyewear and a pair of casual glasses. Ultimately, you want a pair of sunglasses that makes driving as safe as possible, so it’s imperative your frames are fitted with a high-quality polarised sun lens. (The polarisation will cut the glare and reflections from the windscreen and ensure premium clarity). I tend to stick with a timeless, classic frame with a green lens that sharpens the view and softens the light, making driving a pleasure.
I also recommend wearing something light, which will ensure comfort. Plus they won’t fly off if you come into a corner a little quick.
I recommend Pacifico’s Campbell with a polarised green lens. Designed in Bondi and named after the promenade along the beachfront, it’s a classic D-frame shape with an elegant lightweight frame made from Italian acetate. The frame reminds me of something James Dean would wear while driving his Porsche 550 Spyder.
Alain Guglielmino founded vintage-inspired Australian eyewear label Pacifico Optical in 2013 with friend Nick Guzowski. Based in Sydney’s Bondi Beach, the luxury label specialises in European-style retro frames in playful colours. “The Principles” is a monthly menswear series about timeless style and how to nail the fashion essentials.