Do Sunglasses Really Make Us Look Much Better?

There’s a theory going round that sunglasses are the miracle golden ticket to making you look more attractive AND much cooler.

Of course at Style File, we’re a little bias but according to research carried out at Nottingham Trent University, UK this theory might be true!


Whether it’s a case of thinking someone looks deceptively hotter with shades (and maybe not so hot without…) or giving yourself a confidence boost, sunglasses have certainly been the go-to item for their function in concealing flaws over their actual protection from the sun. Just ask any celebrity avoiding the paparazzi, generally hungover people and anyone having a bad face day.

Vanessa Brown who is a Senior Lecturer in Art and Design at Nottingham Trent actually wrote a book about the ‘sunglasses’ phenomena to explain why frames make all the difference to our attractiveness. Exploring the cultural and psychological relationship between sunglasses and the concept of ‘cool’, Brown drew three main conclusions.

First of all, your shades add and alter the structure of your face. Not many of us are blessed with the chiseled cheekbones of Greek Gods, the noses of Roman Emperors or the jawlines of a catwalk supermodel so finding a shape to suit our – sometimes oddly – shaped faces adds structure and definition where it does not naturally exist. Playing to that old chestnut of ‘symmetry’ being proverbial genetic jackpot; you guessed it, sunglasses help with this too!

Sunglasses also make us look cooler and more mysterious by default. When you consider that a large percentage of human communication is done through expression – a lot of which is conveyed through the eyes or the ‘windows to our soul’ – a pair of sunglasses will naturally obscure any emotion or eye-contact/engagement with our fellow homo sapiens.  As a restult, we are naturally drawn to people we ‘can’t figure out’ and therefore, we’re considered hotter when our eyes are hidden

“The eyes are such a tremendous source of information — and vulnerability — for the human being,” said Brown. They make us feel invisible and mask our emotion. Neat!

The bad news is the study proved that people act more dishonestly and selfishly than those not wearing glasses because we feel more anonymous… much like the Internet.


However its not just our subconscious primal urges and bizarre perceptions on beauty that affect our view on sunglasses. Sunglasses have actually built up a cultural reputation of being associated with the cool, rich and famous. From the moment James Dean stepped out in his bad-ass shades back in the ’50s to the entire Wayfarer-clad cast of Resevoir Dogs and our current Queen of Pop  Beyonce rocking Ray Ban’s on her Instagram; we naturally feel like a glamorous Hollywood celeb or rebel under-cover when we don a pair of shades. Sunglasses are a fairly modern accessory with sales only really taking off after the 1920s – not to mention the fact that they are mainly worn for more dangerous sports and by air pilots who have a pretty risky job.

So there you have it. Be warned next time you spot a guy or girl in sunglasses; they may not be as good looking or as cool as you think. On the other-hand your own pair will always make you look 20% more attractive. What more reason do you have to invest than that?


Sources: NY Mag and Complex Style