WHEN YOU TRY a new pair of polarized sunglasses, you never know you've made a mistake until it's too late. Buy them in a store or online, and your misstep becomes painfully clear just a few squint-intensive hours later.
So let us do the work for you. We got our hands on a dozen pairs of polarized shades at various prices—from $10 to $360—and tested them for days at a time. These seven sunglasses are our favorites, and while only a couple of models are perfect, just about any of them will help you enjoy the dog days of summer.
For just $10, Joopin's retro-styled sunglasses could easily be used as backup shades. Given the fact they cost as much as a couple of wheatgrass shots, they performed better than I expected. It's hard to tell if they're actually polarized (as the Amazon page claims) but if they are, these shades are clearly not made with the same quality of polarized glass as the other more expensive pairs on this list. You get what you pay for though, and these should do fine in a pinch. Major bonus points for that Blues Brothers look. $10
Alta by Sunskis
Despite the relatively inexpensive price, the Altas were some of the best sunglasses I tested. For less than three Jacksons, you get a light and durable set of sunnies with an azure tint that will turn your world blue. The one flaw is their level of protection; because of the small round lenses, stray rays can find their way onto your eyeballs. $55
Hey Macarena by Le Specs
The Hey Macarenas are some of the most comfortable glasses I tested in this roundup. The frame's rubber finish is so soft, I wanted to keep them on even when I went indoors. The lenses sit in pretty close proximity to the face, which keeps the sun out. And the sepia-toned lenses saturate the world with warm colors. $69
Seaford by Sperry
The Seafords are comfortable and simple—and ideal for when you want to rock a retro look. The acetate frame feels sturdy and light, but the lenses fall a little short. The reflective gold lenses do a poor job of blocking out the sun. Sperry claims the mirror coating deflects light, but my constant squinting proves otherwise. Get them for the sharp fashion, not the performance. $108
If you're spending over $200 on a pair of sunglasses, you should be getting something well-made, protective, and good-looking. The Leadbetters hit all three notes. The frame is made from highly durable plastic and coated with hand-painted finish, giving it a green and gold hue. The lenses are thick enough to withstand more than a few drops onto the sidewalk. It's the optical quality that stood out though—the polarization and the tint are so effective, I frequently forgot the sun was blaring on the other side of the lenses. $229
The Chromance aviators were my favorite sunglasses of all the pairs I tested. The uber comfortable metal frames are complimented with carbon fiber temple pieces, and the lenses block out all the glare even during the brightest hours of the day. The classic aviator style adds a needed dose of swag to any outfit. If there's one shortcoming with these sunglasses, its durability. These are not the shades to wear on a run, and you certainly don't want to throw them in the bottom of your backpack. They're built to be worn to a patio reception or a beachside cocktail party. $290
Vuarnet Edge Pilot
The Edge Pilots justify their hefty price tag by combining elegance, comfort, and superb eye protection. The big blue polarized lenses hide your eyes from the sun while casting your surroundings in a cool, icy hue. The metal frames and acetate rims are sturdy, yet stay soft–a special combination that makes it easy to forget you're wearing sunglasses. Perhaps best of all though, they're the rare pair of aviators that don't make you look like a cop. $360
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