Most sunglasses shopping boils down to the shape. Are you going for a boxy riff on 80s Ray-Bans, opting for a classic McQueen keyhole nose bridge, or something else altogether? But as style scholars the world over know, there’s a whole other ballgame in sunnies these days, namely, what color do you want to see the world in? There’s a wide rainbow of colors to choose ranging way beyond the usual grey and brown lenses. And here in summer 2021 we’re seeing the greatest reemergence of yellow, green, red, and blue lenses since Elton John’s Follow the Yellow Brick Road tour in ‘73. From Bad Bunny to Brockhampton, sunnies have gone the way of Skittles.
Let’s back up for a second: Colored lenses were a major trend in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when stars like Elton used them to power their bigger-than-life personas. Sunglass frames were bold and bedazzled, but also inlaid with colorful lenses that turned their eyes into stained glass windows. More recently, the trend’s been ramping up thanks to the confluence of a few factors: the reemergence of ‘70s style, TikTok, and the popularity of the slime-soaked, neon color palette of Y2K fashion. Young eyewear brands like Bonnie & Clyde, Crap Eyewear, and Akila are consistently pumping out colored lenses often to instant-sell-out results with the help of Gen Z influencers. And of course, colored shades have been on the runway, from the likes of Louis Vuitton and Gucci.
To name a few recent colored lens lodestars: Joe Jonas rocked yellow lenses to accentuate his tee, while Bad Bunny used them to give his head-to-toe black fit some much-needed pop. The fellas in Brockhampton, meanwhile, often call upon bright eyewear to match their monochromatic outfits—hair dye included. These guys all know that the key to pulling off colored lenses is to treat them like a piece of jewelry: use them to play off of the rest of your outfit. Match them to the strongest color you’re wearing, let them play off another color in your ensemble, or just go buck wild and have ’em stand completely on their own.
Colored lenses tend to be lighter and won’t block out as much sun as the typical dark sunglass lenses, but most colored lenses provide some UV protection. And certain colors will enhance your vision in different ways, too. Yellow lenses can reduce eye strain while green lenses dim glare and brighten shadows. Red lenses are said to have a calming effect while enhancing your depth perception. Blue lenses can be helpful in snowy and foggy conditions.
Ready to add a little color to your summer fits? Here are 10 of our favorites below, each pre-approved for belting “Bennie and the Jets” at karaoke, stunting on Tiktok, and everything in between.