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How to Pick Glasses that Work with Your Face

Woman trying on different eyeglass frames at the store

Three-quarters of American adults need corrective lenses of some sort. For those who choose glasses, the frames become an integral part of their look. But how do you find the best frames to suit your face?

Different Frame Types for Different Faces

Many overly simple guides promise to sync up particular frame styles to specific face shapes. However, the reality is that many faces don’t fit one specific shape, but fall somewhere between extremes (such as “oval” or “square”). Picking the right glasses doesn’t mean following a formula, so much as it means understanding the effect that specific frames will have when you put them on.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common shapes and styles of glasses, and the ways they can complement (or distract from) your facial features. Use this as a reference point for your decisions — but don’t forget, the best frames are always the ones that make you feel great when you look in the mirror.

Thick Frames

Thick frames offer a statement-making look that remains popular even though thinner frames are trending at the moment.

While thick frames were once the daring, hip choice in glasses, they’ve now taken their place among classic looks. Still, the thicker the frame, the bolder your glasses become. This means that if you have small, delicate features, a pair of thick frames run the risk of overpowering your face and taking center stage.

But for some, that powerful effect might be just what you’re looking for. If you want your glasses to be the focal point of your face, consider a thicker frame. Otherwise, avoid thick frames unless you have bold features (like large eyes or stand-out cheekbones) to add balance.

Thin Frames

Thin wire frames have become a hot alternative to the bold frames that dominated trendy glasses for years. Wire frames lend themselves well to softer, rounded designs for a more neutral look.

These thin frames offer one of the most universally flattering looks in glasses since they don’t make a bold statement on your face. Delicate wire glasses let your features stand out more, which is ideal for those who don’t want their glasses to be the boldest part of their look or anyone with small features.

If you don’t love the idea of wire frames, you can also choose a thin plastic pair to get the same effect. Opt for clear plastic or a translucent, neutral shade for the subtlest look.

Round Frames

Most eyewear guides suggest that those with square or angular faces should wear glasses with round frames. In general, they’re right: contrasting your face shape with your frame shape can add balance to your overall appearance.

However, round frames can also look nice on people with round face shapes, if you want to highlight that aspect. A softer, rounded face is often associated with a more feminine look, so you might consider rounded glasses if you want to play up your feminine side.

How can you tell if your face is round? Features like full cheeks and a soft chin usually lend themselves to a rounded look. Round frames will draw more attention to the softness of your face.

Angular Frames

Square or angular faces, on the other hand, tend to offer more masculine energy. You can highlight this feature with a pair of angular frames. Meanwhile, if you have a round face, you can play down the roundness by offsetting it with square frames.

Again, there’s no rule for matching face shape and frame shape here. Instead, it’s all about deciding which facial features you’d like to draw the most attention to. Square frames will make an angular jawline more noticeable, for example, while round frames will soften it.

Large Frames

In addition to choosing the style of your frames, you’ll also need to consider the size.

Following the rules is a little more important when it comes to glasses size, rather than shape. If you choose frames that are much too large or too small for your face, they can look comedic or costumey.

To avoid that effect, check the position of the frames on your face. The edges of the frames shouldn’t extend past the edges of your face, or land very far inside your facial contours. Ideally, your eyes will sit right in the middle of the lenses horizontally, and in the upper third of the lenses vertically. Having correctly fitted glasses also allows you to see through them more easily.

Once you have the frames correctly fitted, the other size considerations are purely aesthetic. If you have small eyes, a large pair of glasses will make them look even smaller.

Small Frames

On the flip side, a small pair of frames can make large eyes look larger. Generally speaking, it’s a safe bet to match frame size to eye size. Wear smaller frames if your eyes are small, and vice versa.

Think of the frame of your glasses as a picture frame for your eyes. Just like when you’re framing a photo, you want the frame to hug the shape, but not cut it off at the edges.

Choosing the Best Glasses for You

Now that you know how certain glasses styles affect your look, you can pare down the countless options offered by your favorite eyeglasses retailers.

Although we haven’t covered every single specific frame style here, you can apply this information to any frames you look at—even sunglasses. For example, now you know glasses with sharp angles, like square and cat-eye frames, will play down round features and accentuate angled ones.

When you understand how different glasses will play with your facial features, you can confidently choose the pair you’ll love the most. If you adore your angular cheekbones, for example, you can highlight them with angular glasses. Instead of following a list of rules, this guide will help you choose frames that showcase your features in your favorite ways.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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