A Guide to Finding Sunglasses for Lesser-known Face Shapes

by Laura Jayne Martin

“Face shapes” were invented by advertisers in the 1960s to sell multiple mirrors to the same household. You might remember the commercial: “What’s wrong, Billy?” “Ah shucks, my chin is gone, again.” “There there, son, it’s just because you’re using my mirror, and your old dad’s got an oval face! Try this mirror — it’s for oblong faces, like yours.” “Oh, there it is. Gee thanks, Dad!”

During the 1970s, there was a failed attempt to manufacture face-shapes children’s cereal, and in the 1980s they were used almost exclusively to tell horoscopes on the boardwalk of the New Jersey shore. Since then, face shapes have branched out into fashion. Specifically, they’re used as a means of decoding the intractable cryptex that is the question: “what sunglasses should I buy?”

Face shapes are unequivocal. They’re not the Coke bottle to your kissing game, nor are they the dart that decides your college major. They’re also not a random, moronic endeavor — faceshapery is an exact science, brought to you by the people who discovered the fact that human beings are able to take the form of seasons. (For the record, I’m a spring, but I only date winters.)

This is very serious business. You know how the eyes are the soul of the face? Well, this guide is basically the golden compass on your journey to finding the mate of your face’s soul. Use it wisely.

Baby Face
Both Babyface Edmonds and Baby Face Nelson fall into this category. If your childlike mug has either produced countless R&B classics or lived a life of criminal infamy in the 1930s, you need a pair of sunglasses that won’t awkwardly ride up the bridge of your nose. Try frames with more space between the lenses, or adjustable nosepads — like a sexy pair of aviators.

North Face
Any shape works on you, but something that complements your jagged surface is ideal. Try to find softly angular frames that will withstand freezing temperatures and vertical sheer.

Spleen-Shaped Face
You can follow the same advice as people with the more common “Heart-Shaped Face.” Try to draw attention to your eyes with oversized squares and wraparounds. Watch out for teardrop-shaped lenses — they will emphasize your splenic features.

Football Face
This face can be found on celebrities like Stewie Griffin from Family Guy. Go with traditional styles, and avoid anything that encourages people to throw your head around on the gridiron. Aviators send the wrong message here.

This is actually an umbrella category for several different face shapes. If you have two (or more) actual faces, layered, or side-by-side because you are a Hydra, then you are a “Two-Face A.” If your face shape is more like Two-Face from Batman, or if some other similar Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde scenario is playing out on your visage, then you are a “Two-Face B.” In all cases, stick with wide, gradient frames that provide broad coverage for your face(s). A pair of Giant “Jackie O” style glasses is probably your best bet.

Laughing face / Weeping face
You’re always in the mood for something dramatic. Seen on such celebrities as Thalia and Melpomene, the muses of comedy and tragedy, these face shapes shine in big circular frames that add fullness and a certain depth to your character.

About Face
Turn around, bright eyes; it’s time for the revolution. You want something sporty that will hug the curves of this face shape as it moves. The pair of sunglass frames that match an “About Face” are definitely Oakleys. Any style will do, as long as they’re made by Oakley. (Tip: Oakleys are also great if you are a celebrity chef and have to overcome a debilitating second set of eyes in the back of your neck.)

Lego Face
This face shape is square, but slightly cylindrical at the sides and looks great with a crew cut. Stay away from oversized or wraparound styles, and try to find frames that will click.

You want something to soften some of the bold characteristics and underline the symmetry of your face shape. Try a pair of small circular teashades and definitely add a colorful lens to highlight your expressions.

Ghostface Killah
Though one of rap’s finest and fastest storytellers, you can be pretty intimidating, Mr. Killah. Why not get playful with a pair of New Year’s Eve-style frames in the shape of “2012”? Or slow things down with a pair of tortoiseshell frames?

Poker Face
With this face shape, you’re going to win with something understated. Try on many pairs before you choose a keeper; obviously, what works with a five-card stud face shape will not work with seven-card stud face shape. Go with mirror lenses and opt for larger wraparound frames that will literally prevent even the most interested from reading you.

Laura Jayne Martin lives and writes in New York City. She is not available for children’s birthday parties.