All You Need to Know About Choosing Eyeglass Frames

Glasses are used to improve vision, but appearance is at least equally important and some people like them so much that they purchase them with plain glass to wear as a fashion accessory. Choosing frames can be time-consuming, but with this guide a good optician can help narrow down choices before beginning, avoiding the aggravation of uncertainty and trying on nearly every pair in the store.

First decide on the frame material.




  Thicker and more rigid than metal, thus somewhat heavier Thinner, more flexible and lighter in weight than plastic
Pros Sturdier, thus popular for use with children Better for sports.More options – such as semi-rimless and rimless
Cons Go out of adjustment more quickly, requiring more frequent tightening and adjusting More likely to break at the temples because of putting them on and taking them off, especially if they don’t have spring hinges


Ask an optician to help determine whether the prescription works with a particular frame, especially if a specialty lens is required. More intense corrections may need thicker lenses and, quite often, a thicker lens needs a more substantial frame to house it, although there are several options for creating thinner lenses (even for a higher correction).

Frames must be large enough for lenses to accommodate the optics in progressive, bifocal or trifocal lenses.

Small, shallow frames

Over-large frames

Might not be enough to fit in the full prescription, leading to under-sized distance and near areas, making it difficult to read, making glasses less useful than they could be, otherwise. Make it very difficult for the optician to optically set them to match the center of the eyes, leading to distortions which will cause headaches.

Alternatives to full frames:


Frameless / rimless

Less heavy or bulky than full frames. Small strip of metal at the top and middle of the frames to hold lenses and metal ear pieces in place.
A universal option. Works with all skin tones and diverse wardrobes. A fashionable option. Provides more color and style options than rimless/frameless.
Use the same full-frame guidelines when considering shape and color.

Once material is decided, determine face characteristics to find best eyeglass frame styles and colors.


Frames should be in scale with the face size and comfortably fit the head. In addition, as a general rule frames should not be too wide or the lenses will be too thick, causing distortion.


The frame should not fit too tightly as it is both unattractive and can cause headaches.


Select from small frames and don’t let them be wider than the widest part of the face.


The frame should contrast with the face shape. While most faces are a combination of shapes and angles, following are the basic face shapes.


males face-shapes


Description: Face longer than it is wide, has a long straight cheek line and sometimes a longish nose.

Recommended Frames: Larger round or triangular shapes, or wide, rectangular shapes help make this shape seem shorter, broader, and more balanced.

Frames that have upper and lower rims of the frame equally visible tend to break down the length of the face and give symmetry.

A lower bridge can make the nose appear shorter.

Frames that are more strongly colored or have decorative temples will also provide a sense of width.


Description: Characteristically fuller face, larger curved forehead, full cheeks and small cheekbones, with a rounded chin.

Recommended Frames: Angular narrow frames that are wider than they are deep (boxy or rectangular), navigator, or geometric frames help sharpen and define features. Hinges high at the side make the face look slimmer and longer. Clear bridges widen the eyes, and light-colored frames de-emphasize and lighten the face.

Avoid: Round frames (which make faces look larger), and dark frames (they “weigh down” faces, making them seem heavier).

SQUAREglasses shapes

Description: Characterized by broad forehead and cheeks, strong jaw-line (slightly angular), with width and length in the same proportions.

Recommended Frame Type: Frames of thin metal with deep rounded or narrow oval characteristics help soften the face and appear more oval whereas a square frame would accentuate the features.

For heavy and quite square jaw-lines, the top of the frame should be more emphatic and the lower rims curved.


Description: This face has a narrow forehead, widening from the cheek to the chin/jaw line.

Recommended Frame Type: Cat-eye shapes or frames heavily accented with color and detailing on the top half emphasize the narrow upper third of the face, giving it the appearance of width.


Description: Characterized by a wider forehead which narrows down to a slightly rounded chin.

Recommended Frame Types: Frames wider at the bottom than at the top and rimless frame styles (giving a light, airy effect) made of light materials in very light colors help balance the face by de-emphasizing the width of the top of the face. The upper rim should round down, joining with the lower rim; frames in which the lower rim tapers up are not appropriate. The hinge should be in the middle or lower down on the rims, as should be the bridge, which can make the nose appear shorter.


Description: This rare face shape is characterized by a narrow forehead, wide temples (broad cheekbones may be high and dramatic) and an angular chin.

Recommended Frame Type: Minimize the horizontal distance between the temples and flatter the face with small frames in geometric or oval shapes.

To give the upper third of the face the appearance of width, highlight the eyes and to soften the cheekbones, try frames that have detailing or distinctive brow on the frame, or try rimless frames or oval and cat-eye shapes.


Description: Egg-shaped and balanced (equal sized) forehead and chin.

Recommended Frames: Can support any type, but look best in frames that are as wide as, or slightly wider than (especially geometric or round), the broadest part of the face, complementing the oval’s natural balance.

Faces & frames

FACIAL HAIR (beards and mustaches)

Choose smaller frames; large frames further mask facial features.


Skin coloring or tone. This is the prime element in determining coloring. All complexions are either cool or warm, and in the United States, cool complexions are more common (about 60%) than the warm complexions.

  • Cool complexions: pink, ruddy or blue undertones. (Olive skin is considered cool because it is a mixture of blue and yellow.)
  • Warm complexions: golden peach undertones or a yellow cast.

Related frame color suggestions:

  • Cool – silver, black, blue, gray, blue-gray, purple, plum, magenta, pink, jade, blue, demi-amber (darker) tortoise, and rose-brown.
  • Warm – gold, copper, fire-engine red, coral, orange, peach, brown, tortoise, camel, off-white, blonde tortoise, khaki, warm blue and aqua.


Eye line and Curve of Eyebrows

In general, the top line of the frame should complement the natural eye-line and follow the curve of the eyebrows, for if there is a conflict between the frame and the eyebrows, it appears unbalanced and clumsy.

“Set” of Eyes

In the case of close-set eyes, since eyes already turn in slightly when we read frames with bridges as thin as possible will prevent reading interference. Two-tone frames, which are lighter at the bridge and darker at the sides, will give the illusion of width as will hinge decorations.

Eye color

This selection criterion is usually secondary because eye color has many variations. One could choose to complement eye color, such as match jade frames with light green eyes, but the following suggestions for warm and cool tones is fairly reliable because:

  • Shades of blue in eyes generally go with cool toned skin,
  • Shades of brown in eyes generally go with warm toned skin.


Look for frame colors that complement hair color, which can also be warm or cool.

  • Darker frames (tan, brown, khaki, gold and copper families) for warm hair – “dirty” gray, golden blonde, dark blonde, and “carrot,” brown-gold, brown, and brownish black.
  • Lighter frames (light blue, pink, amber and gray) for cool – platinum, white, salt-and-pepper, light blonde, ash brown, strawberry blonde, auburn, black, and blue-black.


Consider frame colors that match, or at least complement, the colors worn most often.

  • Most wardrobes – black matches well.
  • Primarily shades of black, gray and white – red eyeglasses work well.
  • Pastels – lighter shades such as plum and pink.

Tips & Caveats

  • Try on as many pairs of glasses as possible, and try different shades because that is the only reliable way to know what works best for an individual’s face and coloring.
  • Don’t waste money on frames in a trendy color like bright purple or red unless money is not an issue because these frames will go out of style fairly quickly.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: UPDATED: All you need to know about choosing eyeglasses frames | Lloyd's of Rochester - an Eclectic blog
  2. Taylor Bishop
    May 30, 2018 @ 12:32:12

    Thanks for going into detail about picking out some eyeglass frames. I actually didn’t know that if you have a larger face you should consider not getting frames that fit too tightly. If that’s the case, it sounds important to really know what your measurements are of your head to know how big the frames need to be.


    • Lloyd's of Rochester
      Jun 17, 2018 @ 00:01:03

      Glad it was helpful. I was trying to get glasses for the first time and I just couldn’t get this information all in one place, and I wasn’t into the “fashion statements” that I sometimes see that make me cringe.


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