Protecting your eyes isn’t the only reason to put on a cool pair of sunglasses. There’s a common social understanding that sunglasses make you look cooler and more attractive. Research from the academic world has begun to confirm those societal whims.
Vanessa Brown, senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, and author of the upcoming bookCool Shades: The History and Meaning of Sunglasses, tells Melissa Dahl of NY Mag that wearing sunglasses does, in fact, make you hotter. The explanation exists in the eye of the beholder.
Brown tells Dahl her research has led her to draw several conclusions about why sunglasses make the wearer more attractive. The first is that wearing shades boosts facial symmetry, long connected with societal perceptions of beauty. Second, since many interpersonal connections and assumptions are made via eye contact, wearing sunglasses boosts your mystery factor.
Shielding your eyes makes you more difficult to figure out and therefore more compelling. Other research suggests wearing shades makes people feel less at risk of scrutiny, empowering them to behave more boldly.
Finally, a century’s worth of sharp advertising has connected sunglasses to edginess and glamor — this said, it’s rare to see photos in which our cultural barometers of “cool” aren’t shielding their eyes.
Keep reading at NY Mag.