Best Affordable Sunglasses of 2016 (nothing over $100)
Sunglasses are a fickle accessory. They’re often outrageously expensive, many find them easy to lose or break, and for most… once you find a pair you actually like… you hang onto those things for dear life. They’re not really like shoes, where you might have 10 – 15 pairs. Most guys have one or two pairs. Three at most.
Let’s say you don’t rely on gas-station cheapies, yet don’t want to invest in something that’ll make you weep with anguish if you happened to sit on them. There are surprisingly few options in between the Rodeo Drive designers and the Shell station spinner rack, but we’ve set the budget at a hundred bucks. Anything at or under is fair game.
No list like this would be complete without a mention of the American Made, timeless, American Optical Original Pilot. Crazy price for Made in the USA eyewear. Lots of different frame and lens colors to pick from. Silver, gold tone, gunmetal, black, etc. Not to mention there are a few different options for the ear pieces. Can be purchased direct through AO here.
Made in China, but so are Suitsupply’s Suits, Warby Parker’s shades (more on those in a second), and almost certainly whatever computer, tablet, or phone you’re reading this article on. Solid quality here. They don’t rattle, the hinges have a nice tension to them, and the spatula style ear pieces don’t cut or dig into your ears. The design is true to the classic aviator shape, without drooping too low at the base of the lenses. Lens width is 60mm, so these are best for guys with bigger noggins. Blue lenses are a nice design touch. Only branding is on the inside of the temple arms, so, it’s not visible to anyone when worn. So far, these and the rest of the new-ish J. Crew sunglasses collection have been excluded from codes. Full review here.
Really impressive for the price, and they nail the updated Clubmaster look and then some. Ray-Ban Clubmasters (think The Talented Mr. Ripley) are so retro that they can look a little costumey to some. The angles on these less expensive than most sunglasses have been modernized, with squared up lenses and smooth subtle dips at the brow bridge. And they feel great on your face. The hinges have a good tension but a soft springy-ness to them. There is branding at the temples, but it’s pretty subtle. Also available in black and silver. Good for medium to larger faces. Again, really impressed by these for the price.
Gotta love Suitsupply’s straightforward descriptions. They aren’t on a first name basis with their sunglasses. Just “light brown” acetate and “grey rectangle”, meta instead “Alfonso” and “Throckmorton”. Acetate frames are 53mm, so better for small to medium sized faces, while the wire frames are a larger 57mm. Ships and returns for free. Standby for an in-person look.
B.R. has been making these for… what… 5 years? If not more? So they must be doing something right if the design has changed only slightly since their debut. A bit thicker in the frame than Ray Ban New Wayfarers, but not going to the full bulk of original Ray Ban Wayfarers. Deep tortoise pattern. Solid feel to them. Usually excluded from codes, but if you can get em’ for 40% off, that puts them at just under sixty.
Made in China, but Brooks Brothers house brand sunglasses are decent quality and sure do look good. Nice design touches like the golden fleece logo at the ends of the ear pieces, and what branding they do have on the temples blends in nicely. Currently discounted thanks to the semi-annual sale.
Matte frames, super lightweight, and they don’t flop around on your face thanks to the slight grip of the rubberized frames. Wire temple pieces connect the main part of the frame to the ear-pieces, and thus, dresses em’ up just enough. Great for the guys who really don’t like adorning themselves with shiny metal. Full review here.
Like a super cheap version of the Persol 2407. For medium to smaller faces. They might not look quite right on dudes with bigger noggin’s. Only real visible branding is on the inside of the ear pieces. They rattle a bit since they’re so cheap, but it’s tough to argue with the price. Best to search them out in store at JC Penney (probably between the neckties and underwear).
A little odd, but super comfortable and not that far off the beaten style path. Blue lenses. Extremely lightweight. Modern, slim brow-bar. Flexible temple pieces. For the risk taker who also doesn’t want to turn and cock heads while strutting down the street.
Also on sale as part of the semi-annual event that Brooks Brothers is running. Check out the arms. The Brooks Brothers #1 stripe runs along them between frame and ear piece. Not a bad touch. Seems like these would be best for medium to larger sized faces/heads.
Probably the safest play of all, and a pair of sunglasses that can go with everything from a t-shirt and jeans to a suit and tie. Link above heads to Amazon where the price shifts and varies depending on lens & frame options.
Polaroid Rounded Square Polarized Sunglasses – $45.00 w/ FRIENDS ($60)
The less-fortunate man’s Ray Ban Caravans. Dead ringers for Caravans in fact. Aviators, without the droop of the traditional aviator lens shape, so they look sleeker and more timeless. Polarized lenses here as well. 25% off with the L&T F&F code. Also available in gold tone. 57mm, but seems to wear a little smaller. There is some branding on the exterior of the temple pieces, but it’s relatively subtle. And you have to be of a certain age to associate Polaroid with the good ol’ days of instantly developing film. Looks and feels much more expensive.
Best for the guys who just don’t want to blow $200 – $300 on Persols, but like that Steve McQueen vibe. Would be nice to see a pair in a darker tortoise instead of just the light tortoise shown here and matte black, but most will be fine with the blonde option. Good for those with larger faces/melons. Polarized.
American Eagle Aviators – $10.00 ($15.95)
Not as solid in build quality as the J. Crew Aviators (one of the ear pieces on this pair was slightly loose), but no where near the price either. The addition of tortoise-shell looking ear pieces at the end of a metal frame is a nice design touch. Sizing, from my measurements is 53 – 55mm. So, mediumish. Only AE branding is a very subtle stamp at the end of each ear piece.
Kirkland Signature (Costco) Wire Frame Sunglasses – $25.99
Ah yes. Costco. Where you can buy a 5 gallon bucket of pickles, all terrain tires, and surprisingly good quality sunglasses. A good looking aviator/caravan style frame, plus polarized lenses, for $25. Couldn’t find any wayfarers this year, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t being made and in other stores. Might be worth a check at your local Costco if you live near one and you’re a member?
Got another pair of sub $100 sunglasses that should have made the list? Send those tips into firstname.lastname@example.org.