Ask the Strategist: The Best Sunglasses Under $100

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Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In our new advice column, Ask the Strategist, we take your most burning shopping questions and scour friends, call up experts, and draw from personal experience to answer them. As always, please comment with one of your own — we’re here to help.

Question: I could really use some recommendations for sunglasses. I tend to lose or break sunglasses so I don’t like spending too much money on them, but my eyes (and face wrinkles) are really suffering from wearing cheap ones that don’t properly protect my eyes. I’d love to know some good ones in the $40 to $80 range that are stylish and functional. I feel like I don’t know any brands between Target and Ray-Ban. Thanks!

I understand that it’s hard to buy sunglasses online, and I’m not exactly sure about your style preferences, but I’ve gathered intel on a few affordable brands that will hopefully point you in the right direction.

Quay’s oversize cat eye.

We’ll start with Quay, a Melbourne-based brand (there are a lot of affordable Australian companies, so look out for them) worn by Cara Delevingne, Gwen Stefani, and Beyoncé. Their glasses don’t ever really cost over $70. Indya Brown, our colleague over at the Cut, says, “They do a good cat eye.” So we found an oversize cat eye and a mirrored cat eye. I’m also really into these kind of ’70s octagon-shaped sunglasses because you can get fun with an affordable pair. And here’s a more traditional cool-girl rounded gold pair. All of these have 100 percent UV protection.

I also reached out to Erin Rae, who works at Atelier Mira, where I once bought a pair of $400 sunglasses, and although she warns that lens quality does suffer when you dip under $100, she has a few brands she’ll stand behind: AO, a heritage military brand that makes classic navigator shapes, and Komono, which has “modern shapes at decent quality.” She also recommends going vintage for quality frames at cheaper prices and checking out Nordstrom Rack.

Crap Eyewear’s Love Tempo sunnies.

Then there’s Crap Eyewear, born as a reaction to the all-too-serious eyewear market. They’re made in L.A., and they have that L.A. vibe. Here’s your heads-up that their most popular styles sell out really quickly. Of late, that’s been the ’90s Kurt Cobain oval frames, but we’ve managed to find them in this very summery washed-out yellow, and we’d recommend snagging them before they’re gone. They also make a more traditional Ray-Ban-like style in black, a simple circle with a half tortoise-shell rim, and a fun, big, round pink-wire-framed pair, all of which are 100 percent UVA and UVB protected.

Le Specs Bodoozle frames.

And finally we have Le Specs, which is the most fashion forward of all these brands, and the company that collaborated with Adam Seliman on these extreme cat-eye glasses — a style that’s become popular among the off-duty, young, “It” girl model types including Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and Sofia Richie for it’sironic, but look! I still pull it off” vibe. (Note: Kendall + Kylie also made a version that might remind you of The Matrix. It’s unclear whether the non-model can pull this look off, but we say it’s worth a shot.) If you’re more of a circle person, they have a pair of frameless black lenses that are equally appropriate for wearing on a spaceship, out to brunch, or in an underground alternate universe. They have a very slight cat eye that’s under $50 and an almost surprisingly traditional (for Le Specs, at least) tortoise shell. I’d also like to throw in this chunky square black frame and red rounded one because I’m just really into this brand (and starting to feel the early surges of regret for the $400 I spent on sunglasses last summer).

We’d love to hear from you. If you have any burning questions, please leave them for us in the comments.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

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Ask the Strategist: The Best Sunglasses Under $100