From their aesthetic incarnations on the red carpets, to their functional counterparts found perched on the noses of outdoors-people and sportsmen and women everywhere, sunglasses are a major part of both the fashion and athletic industries. Shopping for sunglasses can therefore be both a confusing and expensive proposition, so we have some tips to make you a smarter sunglasses shopper.

What to Look for

There are three essential considerations when shopping for sunglasses. First is function--do you want the glasses for an activity or for their fashion statement and style? Second is fit--what's the point in buying great new glasses if they slide of your nose or squeeze your head to the point of migraines? The last consideration is, of course, look--even if you need glasses for a functional athletic purpose, you probably want the best looking pair you can find, too. And, of course, consider whether you'll need to put prescription lenses in your new glasses, and make sure you shop for only those frames that allow this.

Common Pitfalls

Keeping the three key considerations in mind when you shop will help, but there are also some common pitfalls to be aware of. If you're shopping for sunglasses for a sporting or athletic purpose, you will want to buy lenses that best suit the conditions you will face. For example, amber- and yellow-colored lenses are best for high-altitude, high-speed endeavors like skiing. Polarized lenses are necessary for any outings where a reduction in glare is imperative, like fishing. Another mistake often made when buying glasses is selecting the wrong frame material. For sports, nylon or plastic frame glasses tend to be best because they are lightweight and more malleable. Metal frames are stronger and break much less easily, but their weight makes them useful mainly as items of fashion.