This article is part of Spring Fashion Month, where we’re breaking down your must-have fashion pieces for the next few months. From denim jackets to comfy sandals, we’re asking editors, influencers and experts about the go-to pieces they wear through spring and beyond.
Nothing completes a beachy outfit quite like a proper pair of sunglasses. From wider frames that block the sun from every direction to statement sunnies that provide a pop of protection on overcast days, there’s no shortage of sunglasses that keep you feeling — and looking — fresh. But between unpredictable waves, sand that seems to work its way into nearly everything and simple forgetfulness, shelling out half your paycheck for a pair of sunglasses doesn’t always make for the wisest investment.
That’s why we reached out to people who spend nearly every waking moment at the beach or outdoors for their favorite sunglasses under $50 that provide, ahem, specs well beyond their price point. From polarized lenses to durable, on-trend frames, you can shop them all right here.
Goodr sunglasses have become synonymous with superior value for their lightweight frames and too-Goodr-to-be-true price point. “Goodr’s OG Sunglasses are the best no-frills pair that money can buy,” says Kevin Cortez, a commerce editor and avid hiker. “They don’t slide or bounce off of your face while you’re out roaming, and because they’re polarized, they help reduce glare and block harmful UVA and UVB rays.”
“These aviators look exactly like the Bottegas,” says Ashley Mosseri, a podiatrist in Florida and frequent beachgoer. “Like people have legit thought they were Bottegas. I appreciate expensive sunglasses but with the way I treat them I cannot invest in expensive ones, so it’s nice to have these cheap ones that you can throw around and bring to the pool, beach or walks and not have to worry.”
The cat-eye trend is here to stay, and with nearly 11,000 ratings on Amazon (many of them extremely positive), you can be sure this pair wll hold up season after season. “They’re lookalikes for a pair that Hailey Bieber wears and they look good on everyone,” says Mosseri.
For a pair of sunnies that are lifeguard-approved, grab this funky visor style with a matching cord that helps them stay put. “As a lifeguard, I’ve had the opportunity to wear a lot of different sunglasses in my line of work,” says Charlie Ou Yang, a senior lifeguard contractor. “I recently had the chance to try out this pair of retro polarized sunglasses and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.”
It turns out looking high-end designer luxurious can cost the same as a couple lattes. “I love the classic shape of this Loewe sunglasses dupe,” says Ally Cohen, a Florida-based beachgoer. “It makes me feel like a cool and trendy mom, they’re light on the face and they don’t leave a mark on my nose bridge.”
I fell in love with these sunglasses the second I saw them on shelves, and now I can barely take them off after my Hot Girl Walks (even when I’m indoors). The bright coral color adds instant life to any dreary outfit, and they’ve been durable enough to not scratch or break when I pop them in my pocket. The square shape is also super chic and on-trend. I get compliments on them the second I leave the house.
When I’m looking for a light pair of sunnies that feel weightless on my face while I run, I opt for my Sunskis. They’re super sporty, they don’t fog up when I’m sweating and I’ve been able to keep them in great condition for the five years I’ve owned them.
Whether I’m swimming laps or training for a half-marathon, I always make sure to have my Rheos nautical sunglasses on hand. They’re lightweight to an almost eerie degree, and they reduce so much glare that I never experience any sun-induced headaches while wearing them. They come in so many chic color combos, but I love the black-on-black for a mysterious yet versatile vibe.
“I love a frame that has a retro feel without looking old-fashioned, and the lens and frame colors are just right on this pair,” says Todd Plummer, a writer, avid traveler and outdoors enthusiast. “The Maestro is one of this brand’s classic silhouettes, but the Maestro X is slightly larger and suited for larger faces like mine. I often lose, sit on or drop my sunglasses, so the $40 price point also feels right for something that looks good but I won’t be upset if and when they need to be replaced.”
“Growing up in San Diego in the ‘90s through the aughts, my eyes have become increasingly sensitive to sun exposure thanks to years of UV exposure-induced damage,” says Mia Maguire, a commerce editor, boogie boarder and body surfer. “These sunglasses are oversized, so they cover my entire eye region (which also helps prevent crow's feet!), but the polarized lenses are also designed with a UV-protection coating, which is hard to find in under-$20 offerings. I also love how these fit snugly around my face because they stay put when I’m hiking, biking and swimming — even when I’m a bit sweaty, they don’t slide around.”
There’s no need to walk on eggshells around this durable pair — between their scratch-resistant coating and injection-molded cellulose propionate frames, you’ll be able to take them everywhere from hikes to swims.
“My current favorite pair is the new Morningside Polarized glasses because they come in a fun lilac hue (along with black and a brown tortoise-like style), but they still protect my eyes from the sun," says Maguire. "These sunglasses fit around my fairly large head well, so I’m able to wear them in the water and during higher-intensity hikes, but they’re not so tight that they’re painful.”
“It took me a while to hop on the rectangular sunglasses bandwagon (again, I also like my sunglasses to provide anti-wrinkle protection), but I finally caved when I saw these affordable specs,” says Maguire. “They’re current and stylish without looking desperately Y2K (another sartorial movement I plan on sitting out on altogether). They fit securely around my face and stay put when I’m bike riding or jogging outside.”
“While I may be averse to the Y2K resurrection, I’m all for the retro vibe when it comes to shades reminiscent of styles inspired by the ’70s, and these $40 frames are current favorites,” says Maguire. “I don’t wear these when I’m biking, jogging or swimming because of their oversized profile, but I do love to wear them on short hikes and at the beach because they offer a lot of coverage and actually shield my eyes from the sun.”
With their marbled frame made of recycled plastic, this summer staple is a sustainable yet sensible bet. “I love these sunglasses,” says Haley Grumet, a flight attendant and frequent traveler. “They’re polarized, look great and are very durable.”
“I will rave about Goodr sunglasses to anyone who will listen,” says Kristine Thomason, a health and lifestyle journalist and certified personal trainer. “As an avid runner, I’m always on the lookout for solid sunglasses that will stay in place while I log miles, along with polarized lenses to protect my eyes. Goodr sunglasses check all of those boxes, and they’re budget-friendly at just $25 a pair. In addition to running, I wear these on hikes, to the beach or really any outdoor activity.”
For a pair of sunnies that look far more expensive than they actually are, look no further than Specs. “The shape feels so fashion-forward and fresh,” says Vanessa Powell, a Santa Monica-based fashion editor and outdoors enthusiast. “I can’t believe they’re not $200 sunglasses. I’m a firm believer that a good pair of sunglasses can elevate any outfit — even athleisure. Le Specs does that for me.”
“I get so many compliments on my Privé Revaux sunglasses,” says Powell. “I’m an accessories person so I always have a pair of sunglasses in every bag and in my car. They feel super luxe and are always on trend without breaking the bank.”
These oval sunglasses make the perfect addition to any outfit with their dozen varieties and mid-century rounded silhouette. “I love this style of sunglasses and they come in a bunch of colors too,” says Katherine Garbarino, a beauty, health and wellness enthusiast.
“As a surfer, sailor and beachgoer, floating sunglasses are a must,” says Elizabeth Sneed, a surfer. “Blenders Eyewear is comfortable, cute, practical and affordable. These lightweight frames and polarized lenses are excellent in or out of the water. Pro tip: If you’re in the ocean as much as I am, add a cord to your sunglasses and put the cord in your ponytail to prevent them from falling off while you’re in action.”