Ever since the 1950s and 60s when Hollywood stars wore sunglasses to protect their eyes from paparazzi flashbulbs, sunglasses have been a staple in fashion and pop culture. And while they may have started off for practicality’s sake, there is no doubt that whenever you wear sunglasses, you just look cooler and better. Turn’s out, there’s actually a scientific reason behind this.
Vanessa Brown, a senior lecturer of art and design at Nottingham Trent University in the UK decided to research why this is. Her research focused on the meaning we assign to commonplace objects; she then explored the cultural and psychological relationship between sunglasses and society’s idea of “cool” when wearing them.
After conducting her research, the answer is simple: they hide your asymmetrical oddities. Now this is no dig on you, it’s a given that every person in the world has a face that is not perfectly symmetrical, that’s just how we are born. But when you put on a pair of sunglasses, your face instantly becomes more symmetrical, and research on facial attractiveness links symmetry and our perception of beauty.
As if that weren’t interesting enough, sunglasses also provide a kind of scaffolding effect to our faces. Meaning they impose the appearance of a chiseled bone structure on top of your relatively softer features.
But there’s another reason she found for why we look better in shades. It has to do with the mystery that comes with wearing sunglasses. If someone has on sunglasses, you can’t make snap judgments about them based on what they look like or see into their eyes. “The eyes are such a tremendous source of information — and vulnerability — for the human being,” Brown explained. When we can’t look into a person’s eyes, we lose some ability to form judgments about someone’s intelligence, confidence, and even sincerity. Maybe that’s why in every teen drama, the protagonist is always instantly drawn to the bad boy in a leather jacket and sunglasses?
Brown also found that the historical link between sunglasses and glamour has a lot to do with their appeal as well. Think of it this way, before sunglasses became popular when Hollywood celebrities would wear them, they were really only worn for risky water and snow sports in the 1920s. When you equate sunglasses to thrill-seekers or the glamour of Hollywood, there’s basically an inherent coolness that comes with them.
So, you’re not crazy, you really do look cooler (and better) in sunglasses! And thanks to science we now all have a good excuse for wearing sunglasses all the time. Might as well pick up a few new pairs of sunglasses before your next date or night out!