I'm always a little bit wary about buying sunglasses that cost more than a cup of coffee. I'm a klutz who's constantly dropping, scratching, or throwing my shades into my purse unprotected because the case was too unwieldy. Then I discovered folding sunglasses, and my sunglasses game changed forever.
Although I still have a propensity for destruction, I have a much harder time scratching or destroying folding sunglasses. They fold up into a delightfully small package, which makes them easier to safely store in a pocket or pouch. It's also nice to minimize the amount of bulk in your purse.
With folding sunnies, you don't have to sacrifice style or personality for practicality either because, with a little bit of digging, you'll find find lots of brands that make foldable shades. In fact, a few legacy retailers have been making folding sunglasses since the 1960s. (Somewhat annoyingly, most of these options are marketed toward sporty, on-the-go men, but let's get real: You don't have to be athletic or a man to enjoy everything folding sunglasses have to offer.)
If you're sick of scratching your lenses or regularly leaving your shades on restaurant tables and park benches, folding sunglasses might also be a game changer for your sunglasses game. From familiar favorites in folding form to brands that only make pocket-sized frames, here are seven of the best folding sunglasses options.
1. Sports Shades
Oakley Silver Foldable in Black Iridium/Matte Gray Ink, $170, Oakley
Perhaps the most logical and obvious use for folding sunglasses is when you're doing outdoor activities or sports — when you might need something robust yet small enough to throw into an overstuffed pack. Though that seems to be the primary function of these Oakley sunglasses, these are still stylish and simple enough to wear on the street.
2. Square Tortoiseshell Frames
SPY Fold in Matte Camo Tort/Happy Bronze with Green Spectra, $160, SPY
According to the website, these square sporty sunglasses from SPY were designed for a professional surfer who was looking for sunglasses that could pack up tightly. Wearing these sunglasses probably won't turn you into a chill surfer dude, but you can definitely channel that vibe, even if you're just walking down the sidewalk instead of riding a wave.
3. Gold Aviators
Folding sunglasses don't have to be made of plastic, and Ray-Ban has one of the most extensive selections of folding frames in the classic styles we all know and love and instantly recognize. Really, the only difference between these sunglasses and the classic aviators is that these fold up.
4. Classic Clubmasters
In another perfect example of melding classic retro design with modern practicality, Ray-Ban also makes its Clubmaster in a folding style. These folding versions are slightly pricier than their non-folding counterparts, but the style is the same and the extra functionality is totally worth it, in my opinion.
5. White Wayfarers
Vans Foldable Spicoli in Transparent White Caps, $18, Vans
If you're looking for something a little less expensive but still classically stylish and pocket-sized, these white wayfarer-style sunglasses from Vans will fit the bill. (It should be noted that Ray-Ban also makes a folding version of its original Wayfarers that can also be customized online in a pretty extensive array of colors.)
6. Oversize Designer Frames
Persol PO 714 96/33 Folding Sunglasses Light Havana/ Crystal Brown Lens, $172, Amazon
Persol is one of those classic Italian eyewear brands that's been around forever and consistently makes great glasses. In fact, the brand's been on the folding sunglasses game since the 1960s, when it manufactured the 714 series, the first folding glasses. The innovation doesn't mean that the sunglasses lost any of its iconic status. Those silver arrows that are the brand's trademark are still right there on the sides.
7. Round Plastic Frames
Sunpocket Ischnia Crystal Gold, $87, Sunpocket
Sunpocket was hugely popular in the 1970s, especially among skiers in the Alps, and that retro style has stuck with the brand through its relaunch in 2011. The sunglasses are made of a super light plastic and available in a huge variety of fun, bright colors and interesting shapes, from these round lenses to more classic wayfarer-style shades.
There's a longer history of folding sunglasses than you might imagine, but that also means there are lots of classic and retro-inspired styles to choose from. So if you're sick of smashing and scratching your shades, what are you waiting for? The answer to your woes is folding sunglasses and with so many great options out there, there's no good reason not to get a pair.
Images: sunpocket/Instagram; Courtesy Brands