Golden Age Hollywood movie stars initially wore sunglasses to protect their eyes from the bright lights on set, and this inadvertently gave them an air of mysterious cool. Wearing shades equated with being a superstar. Today’s A-listers have taken to wearing Matrix-inspired frames. Which is fine, if you like fashion fads, but I would suggest sunglasses that actually cover the eyes are infinitely more useful. I find the older I get, the more I wear sunglasses – and not in a starry fashion. For practical purposes, like: hiding tired eyes, instead of make-up for a quick trip to the local shops (photograph for That’s Not My Age), as well as for providing UV protection. And for these handy face-saving uses, I’d class sunglasses as a grown-up style staple.
On a friend’s 50th birthday weekend I forgot to pack a pair of sunglasses and nipped into Poundstretcher for a quick fix. Like a budget Jackie O, I came out with a big pair of bug-eye shades that lasted about five minutes until the cheap lenses made my eyes hurt. Squinting in the sun was less painful. My pal Adrienne (who writes about health and wellbeing and other things) explained this, ‘Darker tints don’t mean better protection. In fact, dark lenses without UV protection can be more damaging as they cause the pupils to dilate and let in even more light.’ Going on to add, ‘if you have light-coloured eyes like me – and you, Alyson – there’s a greater risk of sun damage (than for darker eyes). UV radiation can also increase the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.’
And the moral of that story is: wear sunglasses even on cloudy days (surprisingly cloud cover only reduces the amount of UV radiation by 10%), don’t leave packing till the last-minute and do buy decent lenses.
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A version of this sunglasses post appeared in my first book Style Forever.