Gradient lenses are sunglasses that have lenses tinted from the top down, so that the top of the lens is darkest. They are not a style exactly, so much as a look that has become increasingly popular for both men and women in the past few years.

gradient lenses

There are a variety of different reasons why tinted lenses are practical:

  • They are good for driving, because they shield your eyes from overhead sunlight and allow more light through the bottom half of the lens so you can see your dashboard clearly.
  • They provide protection for your eyes from the sun when you are outside, and you can still walk without tripping over things when you go indoors.
  •  If you don’t want very black lenses but want to look cool in your sunglasses – gradient lenses are like the best of both worlds.
  •  People can still see your eyes through them (OK so they would be able to see you better if you tilt your head back a bit, but that still counts).
  • They make you look effortlessly glamorous and sophisticated (not a ‘practical’ reason exactly, but an important consideration anyway).

Essentially, sunglasses with gradient lenses give you a subtle, understated look that is classy and stylish (and they do have some practical advantages…). They also look good on most frame styles, from classic aviators to oversized, round frames. The lenses themselves also come in all colours – from a smoky brown look to dark black fading into light purple, and many more adventurous colours besides.

 Purple gradient lenses

These purple gradient lenses on Jessica Alba's Miu Miu 13 HS sunglasses look great with her laid back look and blue hat.

Brown gradient lenses

Brad Pitt's outfit of white and grey go perfectly with the brown of these gradient lenses - a common look for Aviators.

There are also a very famous pair of glasses by Chanel that are half-tinted. From a distance these appear like gradient lenses, except that instead of blending from dark to light, the dark tinted upper part of the lens suddenly becomes completely transparent just after half way down. Their bold, round frames and statement lenses have meant they have been worn on catwalks, and have also been seen on celebrities such as Nicole Richie and Mary-Kate Olsen.

half-tinted sunglasses

Nicole Richie wearing Chanel half-tinted sunglasses

Mary-Kate Olsen half tinted sunglasses

Mary-Kate Olsen wearing Chanel half-tinted sunglasses

Although some argue that gradient lenses enjoyed the height of their popularity in 2012, we will certainly see sunglasses with lenses like these for a long time to come... and maybe even some more statement variations on the look like the iconic Chanel model!

gradient lenses

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