Throw Some Serious Shade

Not sure what sunglasses suit you? Karen Walker is here to help! The designer shares her sunglasses savoir-faire below.

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"There are those rules in eyewear where a round face suits this and a long face suits that—all that stuff—but I don't really follow any of that," confesses designer Karen Walker, who knows a thing or two about the right pair of shades. The New Zealander launched her own sunglasses range in 2005 and it's been a hit ever since. It's not hard to see why, just check out her signature shapes: Harvest, One, Super Duper Strength, and Orbit—bold and full of character, they span the shape range from square to octagonal to round.

Very much part of the outfit: Karen Walker spring/summer 2016. Photograph courtesy of Joe Kohen/Getty Images
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"I just think: Try it on. You get a feeling. If you feel awesome, then it's right for you; if it doesn't, try on the next pair," she advises of finding your perfect match, which, as summer looms has become something of an ongoing preoccupation at Sweet HQ.

Walker distills the reason nicely: "You immediately feel cool when you put them on. They create a little bit of theater and add a little bit of rock star to the everyday—when you put a pair on, you feel like you're in those '60s paparazzi pictures," she says.

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So, what else do we need to know? Here, Walker talks us through the science of sunglasses, what you need to know and how to approach buying them.

What's your personal sunglasses style?

Nine times out of 10, it's the One shape. I'm a bit selfish because no design gets signed off unless it suits me. 

One, Walker's personal favorite shape

What makes a classic shape or style of sunglasses?

When it looks good on a lot of people. Our four most important shapes are ones where it's really hard to find someone who doesn't look good in them.

What comes first, the outfit or the sunglasses?

Sunglasses are so much a part of the outfit—it's not like you go: "Oh, it's sunny, I need sunglasses!" They are a key part of the outfit! When I lay out an outfit in the morning, I do the clothes, the accessories, the jewelery, the sunglasses, everything. It's not an afterthought of whatever happens to be in the handbag or glove compartment. 

Karen Walker, not wearing sunglasses. Photograph courtesy of Russ Flatt/Karen Walker

Who's your sunglass inspiration?

I've always loved that picture of the Hollywood producer Bob Evans: he always has the same pair of glasses on, the same shape, slightly different versions, and there's this picture of him standing in his dressing room at home and he's got maybe 50 pairs of sunglasses on proper sunglass trees, all backlit. 

Bob Evans during the 1980s. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images

Which style should people start with if they're a little bit scared of sunglasses?

I would say the Super Duper, which is slightly round. Or the One, which is the pair I have. Those two will always suit you and give you that cool factor—they're kind of no-brainers, glamorous but functional, too. 

Another of Walker's core styles, meet Super—super to meet you!

How many pairs do you own?

I have them on rotation so usually five and then I'll switch one out.

How should you look after your sunglasses?

Always keep them in their boxes and have a cleaning cloth. Don't leave them on your head or on the dashboard of the car—and don't just chuck them in your handbag. It is another thing to think about but it does pay you back.  

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