There is no doubt that the best steampunk outfits out there include powerful accessories. Besides heavy belts, silver, knockout hats, bronze and gold details, what stands out the most and exudes steampunk vibes the most, are definitely outstanding sunglasses, one of the most important elements of any outfit.
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No matter if unisex (man or women) or one sex only, this accessory can be a real deal maker when it comes to creating an outstanding steampunk look. This sci-fi genre offers so much in a matter of creativity, so no wonder why so many sunglasses are unisex (for men or for women), as there are plenty of ways for them to be combined and plenty more that are yet to be explored.
When buying the perfect steampunk glasses, there is much more to consider then when buying regular ones. Why? The steampunk culture is a diverse one and since no identity is the same, it is more likely you’ll have to choose between various styles and shapes which are not only offering you sun protection but fit your steampunk identity and your face frame perfectly. Here are some things to consider:
7 Types of steampunk sunglasses available on the market
The variety of accessories in the steampunk world is huge as the world it’self is about combining the seemingly incombinable into something outstanding. There are so many creative details out there, which is why classifying accessories, including sunglasses, can be a hard task. However, based on what’s available on the market, we can discern between 7 main steampunk sunglasses classes, each of which has subclasses.
These are round sunglasses, rectangular sunglasses, sunglasses with side shields, Victorian steampunk welding glasses, flip-up sunglasses, motorcycle glasses and steampunk sunglasses with additional accessory detail.
Each of the 7 types complements the genre perfectly and each has something unique about them. So, let’s dive into what makes each type special.
Round Steampunk Sunglasses
These are probably the most elegant of the types and frequently found on the market. Whether we are talking about vintage, retro and Lennon-like variations, the most obvious feature is the round eye rim. The style here goes from simple and purely elegant, where we find little details combines with a firm frame, which is especially the case for Lennon-like sunglasses to those with colorful glass, shiny bridge and a top bar which make them stand out even more.
The style and the design of round steampunk sunglasses can go in two main directions; the very futuristic one, usually with gold elements, reflective or colored lenses and the other, which is the retro, vintage one, usually with black, silver and bronze frame and darker lenses, which gives off a more historical, industrious vibe. However, as the steampunk creativity goes, these two frequently collide, but what always remains is the typical round rim. As for the size, these ones vary from large to very small, with almost an eye size rims and lenses. The shape also differs, meaning steampunk fans can choose from lenses in a shape of a perfect circle to something more elliptical.
Rectangular Steampunk Sunglasses
Compared to the previous group, on the other side of the spectrum, we have rectangular sunglasses. The criteria here is the same, as these are classified by eye rims, which are always rectangular, although the style can vary, just like in the previous group.
What’s very specific about these is that there are two main categories for discerning differences, and the shape is one of them. Some have sharper edges, giving a very angular look, while other rims have softer edges. A different variation includes those with asymmetric rectangular shaped rims, where the upper part of the rim is wider than the other. The other criteria are the width and the height of the rims, where we see elongated rectangular shapes that are just two or three inches in the vertical line and those which are less horizontally elongated and take more of a proportional look, closer to the square shape.
Steampunk Sunglasses With Side Shields
Side shields are some of the best details sunglasses can have. These are among the most common at the same time, which is not surprising, considering how much simple side shields can elevate the whole look. While the rims shapes and sizes vary, these are usually round-ish in shape, but what the element thanks to which we discern this particular type, are the side shields exclusively.
From leather, metal, and plastic, to glass shields, these details on steampunk sunglasses can make the whole difference when it comes to the edginess of the whole look. Side shields are usually rounded, go under temples and end pieces and differ in width, but there are also some variations with sharper edges as well. The perforated ones, which is also one of the side shield styles, are made of metal elements and can be made of bronze, golden or silver elements.
Victorian Steampunk Welding Sunglasses
Many steampunk lovers will agree that welding goggles are some of the most recognizable and frequently very favored steampunk accessories there are. What is particularly interesting about this type is the very historical look, as the original inspiration for these came directly from the Victorian era and original welding glasses used years ago.
While some steampunk designer kept the original look, others took it further and added additional, futuristic details. The industrious look in steampunk is here much highlighted. What’s specific or welding sunglasses is that they have a ribbon instead of folding frames, while the shield around rims is, in most cases, made of metal and rounded. Ribbons can be made of rubber or firm, quality fabrics and adjustable. Considering shields, many have interesting details like engraved elements on it, visually reminding of dragon or lizard skin, but there are also other interesting details like spikes, tiny gears or imitations of screws. What’s also frequently seen with this type of glasses, more than with some others are kaleidoscopic lenses, which emphasize the sci-fi look.
Flip-up Steampunk Sunglasses
Here the most discerning element is the flip up lenses which are always present, regardless the shape of the rim. Steampunk sunglasses design has elevated to a new level with this type. Again, flip up’s also come in different variations, but usually, there is a darker colored lens that can be flipped up on the top, and the clear lens underneath.
Flip-up lenses can be flipped separately or together, depending on whether the model has the top bar to connect two lenses. In both cases, there are screws on the top that allow moving the top lenses up and down. What is specific about this type is that there are four lenses, those that can be flipped and those who are fixated to the rim and are immovable. The pair that can be flipped are usually the sunglasses, while underneath we usually have transparent lenses.
What is so great about these particular models is that here all the features for sunglasses can be combined with eyeglasses and lenses of different diopter, for those don’t see so well. In other cases, there is a metal or plastic patterned cap shaped as fixated lenses that can be flipped and serve as a powerful detail. We have both rectangular and round variations, out of which the second shape is more predominant with this model.
Motorcycle Steampunk Sunglasses
The largest of them all, motorcycle steampunk glasses can be the ultimate element to level any look, no matter how minimal or complex it is. Here we have usually large lenses, typical for motorcyclists from the of a previous century with various types of protective shields. Lenses can be mirrored or a classical colored. Sunglasses are secured by a ribbon which can be adjusted or is made of elastic material. Regarding shape, these resemble the most of what we use today as ski goggles but are the motorcycle actual goggles that were used shortly after the Victorian era and later.
There are also plenty of rounded ones, which are very similar to welding steampunk sunglasses but have more massive shields which cover the bridge of a nose and the brows as well. Similarly to sunglasses with side shields, the protective shields not only extend around the rims and the bridge, covering the frontal area completely but are also usually padded and made of quality leather, for the comfort while wearing.
Steampunk Sunglasses With Additional Accessory Details
As steampunk keeps growing as a genre, we see more and more creative details attached to the sunglasses. The list here is huge, but there are some that keep repeating and winning many steampunk hearts across the globe, which is why they deserve to be classified as one separate type. We are talking about two main categories, which are mini lamps, spikes, and magnifying glass.
When either of these become a part of steampunk sunglasses design, we get a whole new look. What is interesting about this type is that these details can be attached to any other frame shape, and glasses with or without side shields. Both can be attached sideways thanks to metal extension attached to the temple, or on the top bar, and for both sizes vary. Some mini lamps are there aesthetic wise, while others actually glow without charging or batteries.
Spikes can be found in various sizes, colors, and shapes and are usually attached to the rims or the top bar. These make for a special type is how commonly they appear. Spikes are more frequently seen on round models and while can be attached to both upper and the lower part of the sunglasses, seeing them on top is more the case.
As for the magnifying glass, these are also attached to the frame, but instead of being fixated directly on the temple they are connected either to the rim or the end pieces of sunglasses. There can be one, two or more tiny magnifying glass attached, where some can be moved clockwise or counter clockwise by a certain degree. Another variation is where the whole rim has been transformed into a larger, elongated magnifying glass, while the other lens keeps the classic sunglasses characteristic.
Which steampunk sunglasses shape fits your face shape the best?
If you want to look good wearing steampunk sunglasses, you need to discern not only what style you like, but also think about what type of sunglasses fits your face shape the best. If your facial features and the head are rather small, wearing motorcycle google might not be the best option for you, whilst small rounded ones will be as equally uncomplimentary to someone with larger facial features. In the end, the choice is yours as steampunk is all about creativity, what it means to you and what kind of look do you want to nail. But, if proportion and aesthetics are the important factors on your list, consider buying those that suit your face shape should play an important role, as these will better complement your steampunk identity too.
To find out what face shape do you have, take a look in the mirror and notice what are the widest and the narrowest parts of your face, observe the width and the height. Once you do, these descriptions will give you a little hint in buying the perfect steampunk sunglasses for you.
Heart Face Shape
If your forehead is wider and your chin narrower and slightly pointed so your face resembles of a heart shape, the best choices for you is frame wider than your forehead.
In this case, sunglasses with spikes or mini lamps located on the upper part of the frame are probably not the best choices for you, as these will make your heart shape features look more pointy, but if this is your thing, just opt for smaller spikes and details.
To bring more symmetry, chose sunglasses that accentuate the lower half of your face, such as rectangular sunglasses and those with wider side shields.
Round Face Shape
If your face is round, meaning your chin is round and have fuller cheeks while your face width and height are almost proportionally equal. This circular appearance is best complemented by powerful details, and when you are a steampunk lover, you’ll never run out of these.
The solution you should avoid is rounded sunglasses, while rectangular ones are your best option, especially if these are wider and not too tall.
If rounded ones are your favorite, go for larger ones, as this will complement your face better. Larger sunglasses, like welding or motorcycle ones that resemble ski goggles, will also suit you great.
Square Face Shape
When your face seems to have angular features, like dominant jawline and wide forehead, your face shape is square. If this is you, the steampunk eyewear that would suit you the most are sunglasses with thinner frames or rounded ones, in which case flip-ups will look great on you too.
Something you should avoid is rectangular shapes and sunglasses with lenses of intense color. The pastels, beige and brown are your forte, in contrary to shiny golden frames which make your face look more rectangular than it actually is.
Oval Face Shape
The owners of oval face shape have rather balanced features. Their cheekbones are usually higher and a chin slightly narrower than the forehead.
If this is you, you are lucky in a sense that you can experiment with shapes and colors as much as you want. The bolder steampunk sunglasses variations, like those with extra details, mini lamps, magnifying glass or kaleidoscopic lenses should fit you perfectly. However, observe the size of your facial features as well as with smaller lips and nose, you might want to avoid something extra large, like very detailed motorcycle sunglasses.
Safety comes first: The quality and features of lenses
To look good and feel good in your steampunk outfit and wear sunglasses you like with confidence, it is important to consider something that is as important as the aesthetics, which is safety. This is especially the case if you’d like to rock them on daily basis, no matter if the day is sunny or not, as these rays go even through clouds or reflect from snow.
Just like quality regular sunglasses, those special, outstanding steampunk ones should have quality lenses and protect you from UV radiation. The sun is known to damage eyesight so when choosing the perfect steampunk sunglasses, make sure it protects you from UVA rays. Those with quality lenses should be able to screen out the biggest percentage of visible light possible. The UV protection is there to keep our vision safe from harmful sun rays and can go hand in hand with polarized glasses, which reduce painful striking reflections, especially those coming from extremely bright and reflective surfaces.
Here is the UV index chart which shows what level of eye protection you need depending on the index value which ranges from 2 to 11 or higher values.
However, polarized lenses are not the same as UV protection, although these can frequently come together in one model. While the UV protection is a crucial feature, polarization is considered more of a big plus, as it reduces glare and gives you a better view. What polarized filter does is directing the light that comes from different angles, so you can see the object perfectly. It blocks the light and this enhances the general visibility, increases depth perception, the focus gets better and therefore the pressure on your eyes is decreased.
Here is the polarized lenses color chart to help you compare colors you may be looking for.
Here are Features & benefits for a chosen polarized lenses color:
Lenses in steampunk sunglasses are frequently photochromic. This means that these models are made to let the right amount of tint pass through, adjusting easily to any light conditions, turning darker when exposed to bright light, to protect your eyes. These are light adaptive lenses and can block UV rays, but you need to make sure that the model you are going for has UV protection as a specified feature.
Glass vs Plastic Lenses
The last factor to consider, regarding lenses and their quality is the material these are made of. If the model you are interested in has plastic lenses make sure these are coated and guarantee UV protection, as without that your eyesight will be at risk. Plastic lenses are much lighter and make it easy for any photochromic or polarized tint to be applied. These are more durable and shatterproof, but on the flip side offer less optical quality and can easily end up with scratch marks.
On the other side, while the glass is much more resistant to scratching, it’s much easier to break, but it also offers a much better quality of vision. In summary, the choice is yours, but as benefits go plastic can be a better choice to opt for.
Here is the comparison chart showing different lens materials used. As you can see there is the clear relationship between price and quality.
Here is also a chart that shows pros and cons of glass vs. plastic lenses as well as polycarbonate and Trivex NXT lenses.
What is your steampunk style?
Depending on which steampunk style you identify with the most, there are a few steampunk looks you can nail and quite a few amazing sunglasses you that would match your identity perfectly. Now that you know that what to look for in lenses and which frames fit your face shape, what remains is to follow your passion and pick the steampunk style that moves you. This super creative has its own subgenres and there are plenty of roles you can take on.
Being a sci-fi subgenre itself, it’s fluent and what you’ll work with when creating the best look is a combo of elements steaming from the Victorian age, the industrial era, the Wild West and the medieval times, with futuristic elements included. As far as look combinations go, you can combine two (or more) of these as the ideas is to combine the uncombinable and own it. When finding the steampunk sunglasses that fit your style or role you want to take on, consider the size and shape of the sunglasses, their color and extra details as all of these can do a lot aesthetic vise.
In steampunk culture, the size is a relative term, and the same goes for sunglasses. Putting personal creativity on the side, there are smaller and large ones, and the size does not refer to lenses only or the frame, as many have some extra details which further enlarge the model. There are larger frames, with thicker temples and rims, those that are massive and heavy and those that are very thin. The same goes for the bridge, the extra details like a magnifying glass and the upper bar if there is any. All of thee elements determine the size altogether.
Regarding shape, there are frames with shaper edges and those that give off a bit softer look. Sharper edges usually include elements like rectangular lenses, spikes, edgier side shields wider end pieces or geometrical temples, where the softer look is more about rounder lenses, temples, and side shields. While rims and lenses can be round, rectangular and all in between, the general shape of the sunglasses is determined by these, but also, the temples, extra details, and the bridge. Here we have three main categories, which are sunglasses with the accentuated upper part, those with the accentuated lower part and the balanced ones. The first group includes a wider upper part which is accentuated with thanks to details or width in contrast to the narrower lower part, which is where many flip-ups and sunglasses with extra details belong. The second group is reversed, and good representatives are massive motorcycle models with rectangular shapes, which draw more attention to the lower part and elongate the face. And, in the last group, there are sunglasses which give a sense of proportion between the upper and the lower parts which are usually all rectangular, round ones and those with side shields which don’t have any details attached on the upper or the lower part.
Extra details vs Simplicity
The variations of creative ideas in steampunk go from simple and powerful to detailed and powerful. As far as simplicity goes, we have models that are very minimal and have a simple design, which excludes any additional details but puts the accent of the frame and the lenses instead. In this case, every par is pretty much uncomplicated, yet effective. If your steampunk style is rich is amazing details, when it comes to sunglasses, these simply powerful models will match what you wear well.
On the other side, when talking about details, there is much more to consider than a magnifying glass, spikes and mini lamps. As far as creativity goes, the focus can elevate from tiny gears, screws, engraved side shields, different caps that go over lenses to miniature industrial machines attached to the frame. If the outfits you rock are more minimalistic, these very detailed googled will sure make you stand out from the crowd.
Related to simplicity, the colors of sunglasses parts vary. Although there are monochromatic models, most of the time we see those where two or more colors collide. Shades of brown, beige, black and dark red predominate the steampunk culture, which is noticeable with sunglasses models too, especially when talking about side shields, but these can also be seen on frames, including temple tips and temples as well. Frame colors vary, but what we most commonly see are golden bronze, silver, and black shades. It is not uncommon to see imitations of rust as well.
While frames are usually very steampunk-ish in colors, very industrious and historic, lenses are usually the most colorful part of steampunk glasses. While there are brown, black and other variants of dark lenses, we also have simple colored glass, where see many color combinations, many times very intense ones. There are also kaleidoscopic lenses, and these can frequently be as colorful as the rainbow, giving off a very futuristic, fantasy-like vibes.
Opt For Comfort
The last part of the “sunglasses must have these features’’ trio, besides safety and aesthetic, is the comfort, which is directly connected to the shape of sunglasses parts and quality of materials used for a specific model. There are few things to consider here:
The top bar is the element that connects rims and is located above the bridge. Not all steampunk glasses have this, but many that do have it made of metal. This one can be rounded or rectangular follows the line of brows and usually does not affect how comfortable for wearing sunglasses are, but can however add a certain sense of heaviness. This is especially the case if along the top bar line there are other details like mini imitations of machinery, mini lights or spikes.
Shields or padding in motorcycle sunglasses and side shields are usually made of leather and other easily adaptable, yet firm fabric. For both, there are also variations made of meal and plastic and while side shields made of these materials can feel heavier, they won’t be uncomfortable for wearing, unless very large or disproportionate. For motorcycle sunglasses, however, padding is crucially important, as it surrounds the whole area around the eyes and nose, and if made of stiff materials can really cause discomfort.
Bridge and notepads are one of the tiniest, most of the time invisible parts of sunglasses, yet probably the most crucial when it comes to comfort. These are usually made of plastic and silicone and are there to secure comfort while wearing and saving your nasal bone from scratches and marks. Unlike with regular ones, the only variations of steampunk sunglasses that always have nose pads are round and rectangular ones tho sometimes these parts can be found on those with extra details and side shields. Usually, models that are fastened with a ribbon do not have nose pads, unlike those secured by a folding frame, where nose pads a must most of the time. The bridge determines the fit of the frame, is always a part of sunglasses and can be made of metal, plastic and of the elastic strap, is the case for those models with ribbons.
Frame rims hold lenses and not only direct the style you are wearing, but are important for comfort. Bigger rims are heavier and can cause discomfort, which is why it is important to go for sunglasses that have these parts as round as possible. These can be thicker or slimmer, made of plastic or metal. For those with higher cheekbones and want motorcycle sunglasses or those with larger lenses, it’s a good idea to go for models that have some sort of padding around the rim.
Temples and temple tips are made either of plastic or metal and are also the most prominent with round and rectangular models. Temple tips can be made of silicone as well, which is a bit more comfortable option than plastic ones. In steampunk culture, there are regular temples and comfort cable temples, which are easier to secure on head. Temples should be long enough, as they are supposed to bend 30 to 45 mm at the ends, in order to keep the sunglasses on your head. Too long ones will slide, and too short ones will put pressure on your head, so unless buying a comfort cable model which bends easily and adjusts to any ear, go for something around 130 to 140 mm as this is the optimum. The length fo temples vary from around 120 to 150 mm, so if your size is smaller or larger than the optimal, make sure you check model’s temple length specifications.
Hinges and joints hold your sunglasses together, and if these parts are too inflexible and close to the rims, it is likely you’ll experience pressure along temple lines. These should be flexible enough to fit your head size and shape.
Steampunk Goggles vs Folding Frame Steampunk Sunglasses
The last thing to consider when buying steampunk sunglasses is ribbon vs folding frame or sunglasses vs goggles, as both are prominent models and both are equally good looking. Both have their purpose, pros, and cons and both come in different variations.
The Pros and Cons of Steampunk Goggles with Ribbons
Ribbons are usually found in goggles with side shields, motorcycle goggles, welding goggles and goggles with extra details. This is the case not only because back in the days these types were originally made with ribbons, but because there is a practical side to it as well.
Most of these models are heavier and need to stay firmly on head, which folding frames cannot support. Ribbons on steampunk goggles come in different thickness, sizes, and lengths.
Steampunk Goggles with a ribbon
These can be made of elastic fabrics or in some cases of rubber and while rubber stays better in the position, it can be a bit tricky if you have longer hair. Elastic bands are in this case a great option but can wear off after time, losing the elasticity, in which case you’ll have to replace them.
There are also adjustable ones, made of firmer material and few strap kits, so you can adjust them to the size of your head perfectly. The best are those with strap kits that won’t loosen as quickly.
The risk is also that the ribbon is too tight or too long, which can give you a headache, so check ribbon length before you purchase that perfect pair of steampunk goggles you are looking for.
The Pros and Cons of Steampunk Sunglasses with Folding Frames
Folding frames are practical and usually part of lighter models of steampunk sunglasses. Frame durability is very important here since you don’t want it to break easily. The biggest pro is that these are easy to store, while the cons would be discomfort while wearing and these can be usually worn casually during the day.
Steampunk sunglasses with folding frames
Steampunk sunglasses with folding frames are easier to take off and if they are made of quality material that won’t break easily, can last longer than ribbons. If hinges and joints are of poor quality or loose, it is possible to break them easier, which is not the case with ribbon.
With all the above being said we have no doubt you will be able to choose steampunk sunglasses perfect for you.