When choosing the perfect frames, rules are made to be broken. The occasion, hairstyle and outfit will influence what shape should be worn. But frames must ultimately be fit for purpose and face shape may determine the best match for you, as leading design director Marie Wilkinson explains
The heart face shape tends to be characterised by a narrow jaw line and a prominent chin. Frames should minimise the width of the upper portion of the face. This shape suits curvaceous frames that don’t sit high on the face or with a thin rim. Women should select an ultra-feminine model, such as the new Mad Men-inspired acetate combination frames. This often vintage style has acetate “eyebrows” and metal lower rims, shielding the eyes from the sun, and provides a modern feline edge.
For opticals, choose a model that angles outwards at the top and avoid bright colours or large bold shapes. Avoid semi-rimmed glasses, that will accentuate the wider part of the heart shape.
You may also opt for an aviator, but avoid square and rectangular frames that will emphasise the shape of your face. Aviators are a timeless choice and are immensely popular because they suit most face shapes, and add a touch of masculinity and understatement. If you are selecting an aviator shape this season, make sure they are fitted with luxurious “oil slick” mirrored lenses to add drama.
If you’re fortunate enough to have an oval face with balanced proportions, you can experiment with avant-garde and directional shapes. People with an oval face shape tend to have delicate features, so they should choose smaller frames that are not overpowering. When choosing sunglasses, throw caution to the wind and try new shapes such as the 1970s golden trail-inspired octagonal shapes coming through this season.
For opticals, avoid narrow frames and make sure the model you choose sits and covers the centre of your face, which balances the length. And make sure the frames are no wider than the broadest part of the face. A classic cat’s-eye, rectangular shape or Aristotle Onassis-inspired wraparound will suit best.
Consider a bold colour or print for impact. There is no reason to stick to black this season, as the colours on offer are as vivid as the latest make-up palettes. Try selecting a shade that clashes with what you are wearing. Kitsch and flouro brights are all the rage.
Rounded circular optical frames and narrow oval shapes that sit high on the face will soften the sharpness of the square-face jaw line and soften the features. Rounded frames will also minimise a broad forehead as well as the appearance of drastic angles in the face. Avoid square or octagonal shapes, as they will draw attention to the angles of the face, and opt for soft, delicate and understated frames with minimal embellishment and patterns in the acetate.
For men, an aviator is a great choice as it provides a natural contrast. Because an aviator frame tends to be wider, it makes your face appear longer.
For women, more elegant rounded upswept kitten shapes are most flattering. In fact, any cat’s eye is a great choice, so be adventurous. Often the hairstyle of the wearer is as important as face shape because, if a cut is sympathetic, it will balance the features and open up the options. With short styles and swept-back hair, look to kitten and cat’s-eye upsweeps.
Those with a linear face look best in an upswept or round shape. Try elegant 1930s-influenced round frames, with soft sculptural sweeps. Or for a more graphic look, a round shape in a high impact jewel shade has effect without the heaviness of black.
When choosing optical frames, opt for models with depth rather than width and shorten the face with colourful, contrasting or decorative temples.
Heavy tortoiseshell frames are associated with the modern architectural style of Philip Johnson and Nicholas Grimshaw – and are worn regardless of face shape. Men living the high life select oversized frames to complement their Onassis-sized aspirations.
Straight long locks look great with voluptuous rounder frames and the aviator.
Round faces look best in beautiful boxy, narrow rectangular and geometric shapes – think 1980s vintage – that are wider rather than deeper. This will strike a balance with rounder facial features and make your face appear slimmer.
Look for frames with the temples coming from the top (not the centre) for a more modern take and, if your hair is long, select colours that compliment your shade. The frames should be wider than the broadest part of your face with soft angles in the brow line. Also try a brow bar, which draws the eye upwards naturally.
For men, to make the face appear longer, try narrow frames with sharp angles and high temples. Coloured temples and a clear bridge visually reduce the distance between the eyes. Similarly, go for darker shades, such as a rich dark turtle or black, to minimise full cheeks and avoid small frames.
The best way to customise frames relatively cheaply is to change the lenses and make them unique to you. Most opticians have a plethora of brightly coloured, graduated, mirrored and even gold-plated lenses.
Those with a slim face and a square jaw can wear oversized round and square shapes – think Francoise Hardy. Light colours and rimless models provide a very light and effortless appearance, and will reduce the appearance of the face width.
As an introduction to colour, look for sunglasses with graduated acetate for a softer approach or choose from the soft neutral and nude tones. I always look at how make-up is worn. Red lips can look great with the new nude translucent shades as well as with black.
Comfort is essential when choosing glasses you will wear every day. Essentially, you should forget you are wearing them. The bolder and more oversized the trends, the heavier and more uncomfortable they will become on the bridge of the nose. A quality handmade frame will be considerate of this despite the design. Try the latest “combination” models, which combine bold acetate rims with fine metal bridges, and are extremely comfortable to wear.