Wayfarer Frames - Everything You Need To Know

6th February 2024

Similar to aviator frames, wayfarer frames have become an iconic symbol of timeless style and cultural significance. Born in the mid-20th century, these distinctive frames have made their mark on the fashion landscape, gracing the faces of celebrities and models alike.

In this article, we’ll delve into the essence of Wayfarer frames, exploring their history, anatomy and guidance on selecting the ideal pair for you. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or a newcomer curious about the style that is Wayfarer, after reading this article you will know everything you need to know about these classic frames.

A Brief History of Wayfarer Frames

In 1952, Ray-Ban introduced the revolutionary Wayfarer frames, designed by Raymond Stegeman. Departing from the traditional metal-framed sunglasses of the era, these frames featured a bold and distinctive plastic design that would go on to reshape the eyewear industry.

The 1950s and 1960s saw the rapid ascent of Wayfarer frames to cultural prominence. The design became a symbol of rebellious attitudes and counter-culture movements. However, it was due to Hollywood that Wayfarers received a significant boost. Worn by iconic figures like James Dean and Audrey Hepburn and featured prominently in films such as "Breakfast at Tiffany's" the frames became a symbol of cool and timeless style.

James Dean wearing wayfarer glasses

Despite its initial popularity, Wayfarer frames faced a decline in the 1970s and 1980s, leading to financial challenges for Ray-Ban. Strategic product placement in movies like "The Blues Brothers" and references in songs like Don Henley's "Boys of Summer", however, sparked a resurgence in Wayfarer's popularity during the 1980s.

What makes Wayfarer frames truly timeless is their enduring appeal. The trapezoidal shape and thick frames, characteristic of the original design, have contributed to their status as a classic accessory. Over the years, subtle design changes and variations have kept the frames relevant, adapting to contemporary styles and materials.

Anatomy of Wayfarer Frames

Frame Material

Wayfarer frames are crafted from high-quality plastic materials, striking a balance between durability and a lightweight feel. This choice of material not only ensures the longevity of the frames but also contributes to the bold and chunky aesthetic that defines the Wayfarer style.

Lens Types

The lenses of Wayfarer frames are traditionally large and trapezoidal, providing extensive coverage for the eyes and surrounding areas. Available in various tints, these lenses cater to both prescription and non-prescription sunglasses preferences, offering versatility in both style and function.


Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Wayfarer frames is their trapezoidal or slightly rectangular shape. While the frames are known for their thick and chunky construction, the lenses are wide around the eye area without overly accentuating the forehead and chin.

One unique aspect of Wayfarer frames is their forward angle, known as the pantoscopic tilt. This unique feature allows sufficient light to enter from the top, enabling wearers to perceive their surroundings without being adversely affected by the harsh glare of the sun. The forward angle not only contributes to the distinctive look of Wayfarer frames but also enhances their practicality in various lighting conditions.

New Wayfarers

The latest models feature slightly smaller and more rounded frames, offering a softer finish that complements a variety of face shapes. Notably, the distinct tilt characteristic has been removed, resulting in reduced light penetration at the top of the frame.

Ray Ban Sunglasses in Brown - RB3576

Ray Ban Sunglasses in Brown - RB3576

Choosing the Right Wayfarer Frames

Choosing the right Wayfarer frames involves considering various factors to ensure they complement not only your style and face shape but also your lifestyle.

Face Shape Considerations

For those with a round face, angular Wayfarer frames are an excellent choice. The distinct lines and edges of the frames add definition and structure, countering the softness of a round face.

If you have a square face, opt for Wayfarer frames with rounder or softer edges. These styles help balance the strong features characteristic of a square face, creating a more harmonious and flattering appearance.

Oval faces are fortunate in that most Wayfarer styles complement this face shape naturally. The balanced proportions of oval faces work well with the versatile design of Wayfarer frames, allowing wearers to confidently choose from a range of styles.

For those with a heart-shaped face, it's recommended to select frames with a wider bottom. This choice helps balance the narrower forehead that is typical of heart-shaped faces, creating a more proportional and appealing look.

Understanding your face shape and choosing Wayfarer frames that complement it can make a significant difference in the overall aesthetics of your eyewear. Whether you aim to add structure, soften features, or maintain balance, the right Wayfarer frames can enhance your facial characteristics and elevate your style.

Lifestyle and Fashion Preferences

Before choosing your new pair of Wayfarer glasses, it’s not only important to consider your face shape but also your lifestyle and fashion preferences. Consider your daily activities, style sensibilities, and the overall image you want to project.

man standing outside wearing wayfarers

If you lead an active lifestyle, participating in sports or outdoor adventures, you might opt for durable and sporty variations of Wayfarer frames. Look for designs that offer a secure fit and robust construction to withstand the demands of an active routine. 

Classic Wayfarer designs are versatile and suitable for everyday wear. These timeless styles effortlessly complement a range of outfits, making them a reliable choice for various occasions. Their understated elegance ensures they never go out of fashion.

Calvin Klein 19718F-029

Calvin Klein 19718F-029

On the other hand, if you're inclined towards making a bold fashion statement, explore trendy variations of Wayfarer frames. Brands often release contemporary designs, incorporating unique patterns, materials, or colour schemes that cater to individuals seeking a more fashion-forward aesthetic. 

Calvin Klein 5990

Calvin Klein 5990

Prescription and Non-Prescription Options

When choosing Wayfarer frames, one of the essential considerations is whether you require prescription lenses or if you're opting for non-prescription sunglasses. Wayfarers cater to both functionalities, allowing wearers to blend vision correction with iconic style.


Whether you choose a classic design reminiscent of the 1950s or opt for a contemporary twist, the Wayfarer frames continue to captivate and inspire, proving that true style is indeed timeless. On top of that, Wayfarer glasses work well on most face shapes and throughout most lifestyle activities, making them the perfect fit to seamlessly integrate unique style into your wardrobe. 

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