Why Expensive Sunglasses Might Make More Sense

Why Expensive Sunglasses Might Make More Sense

You can pick up a pair of cheap sunglasses for $10 and not stress about losing them, but is that the best way to invest your money? Fashion blogger and novelist Maggie Alderson argues that you’re better off spending money on a well-designed expensive pair, because you’ll be both happier with how they look and less likely to misplace them.

Alderson notes that despite committing to a “cheap and cheerful” sunglasses strategy, she ended up spending more than £100 for half-a-dozen pairs in the course of a year and still felt none of them looked satisfactory. Conversely, a pair which cost north of £250 delivered the goods, and also made her more careful about not losing them:

I’m absolutely mad about them and whenever I put them on I feel like a film star and because they were so expensive, every time I take them off I carefully put them back in their neat protective case. I will never buy cheap sunglasses again.

That attitude may well reflect Alderson’s fashion roots. We’ve argued in the past that cheap sunglasses can be just as good in quality terms, but that doesn’t really take into account how they look. And there is something to be said for investing in one-off quality items rather than constantly ditching cheapies.

My own sunglasses strategy is different again. I usually buy cheap ones and I still end up losing them, so for the past year I’ve just given up on wearing sunglasses altogether. We’ll see if that strategy survives the summer, but it does cut down on what I have to carry.

Where do you sit in the sunglasses debate? Tell us in the comments, and remember in the meantime, if you do need to grab a misshapen pair of old sunnies for emergency use, you can do that with a hot water bath.

I’m not rich enough to buy cheap sunglasses [Style Notes]


    • Paid ~$30 for excellent (and quite OK looking) Cancer Council sunnies, and laugh at hipsters squinting as the sun comes in over the top and around the sides of their $200+ Ray Bans.

      I keep losing them and finding them again, but at that price I can have a pair just for the car; a pair that stays home and goes out with me; and what the hell, a spare pair for funsies.

      • Ditto…my Cancer Council ones look fine and I have three pairs for about half of what one “fashionable” pair costs.

        Surely a fashion blogger has a vested interest in extoling the virtures of fashion label sunnies and will come up with all manner of justifications in order to get us to part with our money…if people part of the hipster crowd doesn’t prompt you then maybe some half-baked false economy nonsense will do it.

        Not me…happy to give the Cancer Counil my dosh and their sunnies are excellent quality too.

      • I have had two $30 pairs of Cancer Council sunglasses in the past, both of which had a screw constantly fall out, causing the arm to fall off. It was impossible to find a screw that actually fit them properly. I ended up going back to my $10 pair of sunglasses, which I have had for more than 10 years now with no problems. Judging from my track record so far, I shudder to think of what would happen to my sunglasses if they costed more than $30.

  • Flee market sunnies work pretty well for the most part, plus you can get them polarised for the same price, and being a bloke, fashion isn’t really a major concern, I just stick with the style I’m used to. Not sure that spending that kind of money on fashion makes sense to me though. I have purchased high end glasses before though and was really pissed off when I sat on them, and another pair was stolen too!

    • The woman suggesting this doesn’t even bring up losing them, she just kept buying sunglasses she later on decided she didn’t like. After she did some research she found a pair she loves.

      The post seems to be a warning against impulse buying to me.

  • “I usually buy cheap ones and I still end up losing them, so for the past year I’ve just given up on wearing sunglasses altogether. We’ll see if that strategy survives the summer, but it does cut down on what I have to carry.”

    This seems like a pretty stupid approach to take. Wearing sunglasses isn’t just about convenience or fashion, its about protecting your eyes.

  • I switched a couple of years ago from $20 sunnies to $200 ones. I didn’t take care of my cheap sunnies (kept putting them unprotected in the bottom of my bag, despite knowing that I shouldn’t) and decided that an expensive pair would *force* me to take more care of them. It has been working so far.

  • my good sunnies last me around 3-4 years and generally I look after them that well people put them on an think they are prescriptions because they are so clean and unscratched… mind you I still bought som efake ones in asia to throw around… $2 meh…

  • Unless you are driven by rampant materialism and are image obsessed then you are unlikely to be any more motivated to look after expensive sunnies than cheap ones.

    What a load of horse doo doo. ( Thouroughbred horse, not that cheap pony kind )

  • Until such time that I was finally convinced to go to the optometrist, and have since been forced to ditch non-prescription sunglasses altogether; I was definitely a big fan of cheaper “disposable” sunglasses. While I tended to buy “top of the bottom end” (i.e. Polarised sunnies approved by the cancer council from the pharmacist); they were always bought knowing that they had a finite life. I wasn’t generally too bad for losing them, however they did live much of their life on top of my head when they weren’t in use, and I wasn’t the type to carry a case with me; plus they often got used while mowing and brush cutting for eye protection. Typically, a pair would last a year or so before being put up for replacement.

    Habits have changed greatly since then however. I usually carry my normal prescription glasses, along with prescription sunnies, and a common pouch for them. Generally bad vision forces me to actually make the switch between pairs when going in doors. The stupid and ironic thing about all this is though, is I much preferred how my $30 disposable sunnies looked, compared with my prescription ones, which set be back well over $150!

  • Expensive sunnies are invariably just tinted plastic lenses.
    I only buy Polarised lenses, as such, my choice is immediately limited in the expensive ranges. I’ve found a great design pair of wrap-around Aerial brand sunnies with polarised lenses that look good, feel confortable and block out sun and glare from all angles..
    They’re so good and so cheap that I’ve bought a second pair that live in my partner’s car so I don’t have to remember them!
    FInally, I don’t believe I’ve ever LOST a pair of sunnies.. Broken – certainly, left behind- definitely, but I’ve always got them back!
    Good luck going back to the servo to grab your $300 sunnies!

  • I wear prescription lenses, so I have no choice about wearing expensive sunglasses, unless I make the switch to contacts, which isn’t likely in the near figure. When I got my last pair of glasses, I got frames with magnetic clip- on polarised lenses. It was slightly cheaper than buying a separate pair, and easier than switching frames when I go inside. And yes, I keep them in their carry case in my bag. They’ve lasted 5 years so far.

  • The psychological factor works and should NOT be discounted. Expensive sunnies do last longer and are cheaper in the long run because most people are more careful with them.
    And, depending on the manufacturer, they’re a LOT better made.
    -ie. do not get trashy yet expensive “fashion” brands that are in reality cheaply made junk (Channel, Dolce Gabana etc). They will break the same as any $20 Chinese crap because they’re basically the same thing.
    Well made sunnies should be easily repairable and extremely durable.

  • Ive had a pair of tom fords now for 5 years, bought them for $500 and i had a $300 myer card as well. Best sunglasses purchase ive ever made. All ive done with them now is pull out the old car polish to take some scratches away from the actual lens. But im extremely happy with my buy and its been a hell of an investment too.

  • I just paid the money for transition lenses on my prescription glasses. Because they’re for distance I don’t wear them indoors so the slow transition back to clear doesn’t worry me and I never forget them when I go somewhere as the blurriness is a great reminder.

  • i have some perscription raybans. i take care of them so well 😛 my friends have fakes of the same type, and the quality just isn’t the same. the biggest difference is definitely quality of the optics. looking through good glasses is amazing 😛

  • +1 for expensive sunnies. Though there is a 3rd option to the cheap functional vs expensive stylish debate -> expensive functional sunnies.

    Can’t remember how many I used to go through per year, but my last two pairs (both $500+)have lasted me over a decade, and I never forget where they are.

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