If eyes are the windows to your soul, then glasses are the windows to your eyes—which means they need to make a pretty good first impression. (Is your head a whole house in this metaphor? Sorry, we’ll focus.)
Glasses come in a variety of shapes, and the most popular ones have earned distinctive names and histories. You’ve probably heard of some of the classics: aviators, cat-eye glasses, John Lennon-esque round ones, and more.
But how do you know if you’ve got cat-eye or browline frames? Are all square glasses also rectangle glasses by default? And what are geometric glasses?
The signature aesthetic of certain glasses styles can be subtle. To help you tell the different eyeglass shapes apart, we’ve composed a guide to the frame names you should know.
Rectangle glasses are a staple of the frame world for a reason: they’re almost universally flattering. Their lenses are wider than they are tall, with even, straight borders and rounded corners. They’re a simple, sophisticated, and reliable shape, but you can give them as much pizzazz as you like with bold colors.
More angular than their rectangular cousins (say that five times fast), square glasses have lenses with approximately equal height and width. Their boxy shape can add some edge to soft, rounded facial features. This shape is bold with old-school appeal.
For such a simple shape, the circle takes a certain amount of confidence to pull off. Round wire glasses have an authoritative, charmingly vintage vibe, whereas thicker acetate frames carry a more fashion-forward spirit. This is a style that’s instantly memorable, but also one whose singularity should be respected—try these glasses on at home if you’re not quite sure how they’ll look on you.
The epitome of understated glam, cat-eye glasses have upper corners (the ones nearest your temples) with an upswept shape, almost as though they’re implying thick eyelashes. Their distinctive, curvy browline has led them to be characterized as a feminine glasses style, but rest assured, anyone can wear cat-eyes to great effect.
Aviator glasses are also known as pilot glasses. In their earliest incarnation, they were tinted sunglasses worn by military pilots. However, their broad lenses and bar-over-the-nose-bridge design eventually took off (pardon the pun) amidst the general public. Now they’re available as a style of regular prescription glasses as well as sunglasses.
A bit more wide than circular frames, and more rounded than rectangular ones, oval glasses have a smooth, chic look that can play well with sharper or more angular features. Their frames can be thick or wire-thin, making them an attractively flexible option for wearers.
Browline glasses, faithful to their title, have frames that outline the brows and leave the bottoms of the lenses largely rimless or with thinner outlines. They’re associated with an academic, stoic kind of style, and were hugely popular in the 1950s.
Geometric glasses embrace the shapes that others don’t—hexagons, octagons, rounded bottoms with angled tops, and a host of others. If the lens borders have more than four distinct sides, or a shape that just isn’t easily categorizable, then they’re probably geometric frames. This glasses style is for anyone who truly wants to stand out in a crowd.
Oversized glasses aren’t limited to a single frame shape. As their name implies, their distinguishing feature is that they’re quite large, and therefore they aren’t as ubiquitous in stores. They’re not always novelty items, though—their big lenses provide a broad field of vision, and their size makes them striking accessories for the fashion-forward set.
Finding Your Glasses Aesthetic
You might like the look of some of these glasses shapes but still be waffling on which ones to try. We get it—picking the perfect style can be overwhelming. To help narrow down your glasses aesthetic, you might try taking a glasses style quiz. Or, if you’d like to immediately preview the frames on your face, you can try on glasses virtually. Isn’t technology grand?