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Radley Stories

Style Notes

What are the Best Sunglasses for Her? Our Radley London Sunglasses Guide

06 April 2022

Prepare to soak up the sun in style with a new pair of sleek Radley London sunglasses. Ideal for all sorts of activities, whether you’re jetting off for a city break or taking a stroll through the city in the sun, we have sunglasses in fashion frames with protective lenses so you can stay stylish and safe when enjoying every sunny day. 

Why Do We Wear Sunglasses?

Sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun, which emits harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause damage and affect your vision. Sunglasses are as necessary for our eyes as sunscreen is for our skin. This makes them an essential accessory on any sunny day and even any overcast day as sun rays can penetrate clouds. In snowy or water-based environments, the sun’s glare can reflect off surfaces, also causing damage to the eyes. 

Much like normal glasses, sunglasses can be made with prescription lenses that will improve the quality of vision as well as protect the eyes from UV rays. These are particularly popular for certain activities like driving and skiing, when it is important to see clearly while also keeping eyes shaded from the sun.

Over time, sunglasses have become a fashionable accessory that combines style and safety. Sunglasses come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours, with various lens options and stylish frames.

A History of Sunglasses

It is thought the first sunglasses were invented over 2000 years ago and were made from animal bones, leather and wood with small eye slits to allow in only a small amount of light. The sunglasses we know today emerged later, during the 12th century in China. These were crafted from smoky quartz and were designed to hide facial expressions of judges in ancient Chinese courts. 

The popularity of sunglasses in fashion rose during the early 20th century, when Hollywood movie stars would wear them to events. However, at this time, sunglasses offered no protection from UV rays – they were merely a fashion accessory. 

In 1936, the first polarised sunglasses became available when Edwin H. Land began using his patented Polaroid filter. This was just in time for World War II when pilots began wearing polarised aviator sunglasses –  thought of as the most iconic and best sunglasses that are still worn today. 

Sunglasses in Fashion

1920s

Sunglasses first became popular towards the end of the 1920s when Hollywood stars began to wear  classic round sunglasses with chunky frames. 

1930s

Round sunglasses remained popular throughout the ‘30s, but chunky frames were swapped with more delicate alternatives.

1940s

The ‘40s saw two fashion trends for sunglasses, including the sophisticated aviator pilot styles and sunglasses with thick frames in bold colours. 

1950s

This decade saw new sunglass styles emerge, with the cat eye frame being the most notable. Flattering and feminine, cat eye sunglasses are still iconic thanks to the many high-profile celebrities who famously wore them – the most well-known being Audrey Hepburn who found these were the best sunglasses for her style.

1960s

Sunglasses during the ‘60s embraced the colour and freeness of the era. Just like Elton John’s array of sunglasses, styles during this decade appeared in an endless spectrum of bold colours and chunky frames. 

1970s

The first era to play around with coloured lenses, the ‘70s saw soft, pastel-tinted pairs appearing, emulating the era’s peace and love atmosphere. Perhaps the most notable were John Lennon’s round tinted sunglasses that are iconic to this day.  

1980s

Power dressing, shoulder pads and bold shapes became the style staples of the ‘80s, with these trends making their way into accessories too. These sunglasses had darker lenses and sharper frames – an iconic look that has become associated with the likes of Madonna.

1990s

More delicate framed sunglasses and minimalistic pairs emerged during the ‘90s, with wire-rimmed shapes overtaking chunky, plastic frames in the style stakes. 

2000s

The ’90s may have downsized, but the noughties saw the return of big, oversized sunglasses in every colour. Designer styles with clear logo details also became incredibly popular among celebrities, including Britney Spears, who realised they were an easy way to block out paparazzi.

2010s

This era saw a real variety of sunglasses, with miniature styles similar to those worn in the Matrix appearing and aviator sunglasses making a comeback. 

2020s and beyond

It looks like favoured vintage sunglasses will make a comeback over the next few years, with chunky plastic frames and timeless wire-rimmed styles making the best sunglasses in 2021, dominating fashion collections, runways and eyewear trends. 

What Type of Rays Does the Sun Emit? 

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are high energy, invisible light rays that are emitted by the sun. There are three types of UV rays, including UVA, UVB and UVC, which are all very dangerous for the eyes in particular. 

UVA: Long-wavelength UVA accounts for approximately 95% of the UV radiation reaching the earth's surface. UVA rays can penetrate deep layers of skin, which is how we tan – but UVA also causes skin to age and wrinkle. 

UVB: Medium-wavelength UVB rays are the most dangerous of the three types of UV rays. These are the rays that help your skin to tan but can also cause it to burn, age and wrinkle, as well as damage your eyesight.

UVC: Short-wavelength UVC is the most damaging form of UV radiation, however it is completely filtered by the earth’s atmosphere and it does not reach the earth’s surface. This is why you will never find sunscreen or sunglasses that provide UV protection.

Here at Radley London, we take style and safety seriously, which is why we have UVA and UVB protective sunglasses in fashion frames.

Types of Lenses for Sunglasses

Discover the various lens styles with our sunglasses guide to find out which ones are best for each activity. 

Polarised: If you’re asking ‘what are the best sunglasses for the beach’, any style with polarised lenses makes an ideal choice. These help to reduce the amount of glare that reflects off surfaces such as water, snow, and glass, making polarised sunglasses useful for sports and driving. 

Anti-Reflective: Similar to polarised lenses, an anti-reflective coating helps to reduce glare by preventing light from reflecting off the surface of the sunglasses. 

Mirror-Coated: These have a reflective, optical coating that makes them look like mirrors. They limit the amount of light entering the eyes, which is beneficial when you’re outside in bright conditions. 

Gradient: With a tinted gradient from top to bottom, these sunglasses are specifically designed for drivers as they shield eyes from sunlight that comes from above, while allowing you to see clearly through the bottom. 

Double Gradient: Tinted at the top and the bottom of the lens, with a much lighter tint in the middle. These are the best sunglasses for the beach as they protect eyes from sunlight above and sun reflections from below (off water).

Photochromic: These sunglasses adjust themselves depending on how much UV light they are exposed to – with increased UV light, they become darker. Photochromic sunglasses make great prescription glasses as they clear when inside and darken outside without the wearer having to switch between spectacles and sunglasses. 

Multifocal: These are also known as progressive lenses as they have multiple prescriptions inside them. Multifocal glasses can help the wearer to see things both in the distance and up close – they can be worn for driving and for reading without needing to switch them for glasses with a different prescription. 

Wraparound: These frames wrap around the head, from the front to the sides, providing extra protection from the sun and the wind, and also help to prevent harmful UV rays reaching the eyes through the sides of the frame. These sunglasses are best for sports skiing and snowboarding.

What are the Best Sunglasses for Your Eyes?

When shopping for sunglasses, most people look at the design and the price tag but it’s important to check the sun protection factor of the lenses too. There are five different categories of lenses (0-4), with lens category 0 being the least protective and lens category 4 being the most protective. 

Lens Category 0: These lenses should be used purely for fashion purposes and not relied on for protection from UV rays. They are simply alternatives for spectacles and offer no protection from harmful UV rays. 

Lens Category 1: These lenses should also be used for fashion purposes only as they provide a very limited sun glare reduction and UV protection. 

Lens Category 2: These lenses provide a medium level of protection from the sun’s glare and UV rays. They are sufficient for use in partially sunny conditions, but not in extreme sunlight.

Lens Category 3: These lenses will provide a good level of UV protection and sun glare reduction. This is typically the most common lens category.

Lens Category 4: The highest grade protection, these lenses will provide a very high level of sun glare reduction and UV protection. Sunglasses with this level of protection are ideal for outdoor sporting activities such as skiing and hiking but should not be worn for driving as the density of this tint can reduce vision.

Fun Facts about Sunglasses

  • National Sunglasses Day happens every year on 27th June. It is a day to celebrate the importance of wearing sunglasses and protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV rays.

  • With a rumoured 250,000 pairs of sunglasses, Sir Elton John is believed to own the largest personal collection. He's rarely seen without them.

  • The most expensive sunglasses to be listed on eBay were the custom pair Elvis Presley wore during his concerts in Madison Square Garden in 1972. They sold for $250,000. 

Radley London Best Sunglasses for Her

With help from our sunglasses guide, you can now find the perfect sunglasses for you; whether you’re looking for the best sunglasses for the beach or sunglasses in fashionable frames for days out strolling the city, our collection has a pair to suit everyone’s style.

If you’re off on an exotic adventure, make sure you’re ready with all you need - sunglasses, a designer suitcase, a wash bag and all your other travel accessories. And if shopping for a new designer suitcase, be sure to read our handy guide: How To Pack A Suitcase can be found on Radley Stories