When you think about it, sunglasses must rank as one of the 12th century's greatest inventions.
Both highly practical and indispensably stylish, they're a stunningly basic idea that modern technology has so far failed to improve significantly upon.
For bonus points, they're also the perfect cover-up for the telltale signs of an occasional all-nighter.
As we head into yet another season of weekend barbecues and festival-hopping, it's a good time to seek out expert opinion about what men should look for in a new set of shades for summer.
Thomas Rolland is the lead image consultant at Melbourne-based stylists . He says a return to a classic look will be the focus in the coming months.
"The round frame is the fashionable go-to style at the moment [but] one of the most popular styles and something that we can't see ever losing its class is the traditional [square] Wayfarer frame," he says.
"Slight adaptations to this original style are becoming more prominent on the market – versions with thicker frames, faintly coloured rims and mirrored lenses are the main trends we have noticed."
Hip to be square
While round frames still hold sway with inner city literary-types, it's thicker, square frames that will be the ones to keep an eye on this summer. If you need style-inspiration, think Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and The Man in Black himself, Johnny Cash.
Todd Aitken from boutique eyewear store says that while the Ray Ban Wayfarer remains a timeless choice, a lot of contemporary brands are giving this classic look a modern update.
"Simplicity always wins," says Aitken, "but current styles are really focusing on simplicity with a twist.
"[We recommend] Australian brand ('Alchemy' model pictured above) which has released a range of very high-grade Japanese acetate frames with a perfectly flat zero base lens that give a clean, futuristic feel."
Another option would be the (above) that provide a lighter, fresh look perfect for a day at the beach.
Clip it good
It's often joked that if you wait long enough, everything becomes fashionable again. With this in mind, the clip-on look is clearly marked as fashion's next big resurrection.
The novelty factor – and an undeniable edginess – will hold sway with fashionable types, while bespectacled gents will likely embrace them for practicality purposes alone.
(above) are perfect for those who want a more modern look; otherwise (top) are a clean, simple option that won't break the bank.
The classic mirrored lense will once again be one of summer's must-have looks. Favoured by the likes of Robert Redford and Brad Pitt, they're an easy way to make a bold statement with your eyewear.
"Instead of the traditional reflective lens," says Aitken, "this year we are seeing more of a flash lens, which is not a complete mirror but a smoky mirrored effect."
The perfect fusion of style and technology, (above) uses photochromic technology to create a flash lens that darkenson exposure to specific types of light - most commonly ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
For traditionalists, however, (above) are a safe addition to your summer wardrobe.
Lastly, the most important thing to remember is that not all trends match all faces.
"Any man who is looking to buy a pair of sunglasses should first research by going into a store to try a range of different shapes to see what suits his face the best," advises Rolland.
Once there, the general rule of thumb for fit goes that your glasses should be about the same width as your face, and the top of your frames should be the same height as your eyebrows.
However, if you're like me and do most of your shopping online, Rolland has put together the following guideline when hunting for your next pair of shades:
- Round and heart-shaped faces suit Aviators or square frames such as Wayfarers, as this adds definition to the face.
- Oval or diamond-shaped faces are the lucky ones when it comes to eyewear as they suit any shape – the world is your oyster.
- Square faces suit rounded, curved frames. As men tend to have stronger features, this is a good chance to soften your look a touch.
- Triangular faces suit frames that are top heavy (also known as a D-frame), as this helps balance out the face.
How much do you spend on sunglasses and what styles or shapes do you favour?