Features, Style

Sunglasses: The most important accessory of the season

Choosing the right pair of sunglasses requires more knowledge than any other accessory. In addition to medical and technical considerations, there is also a fashion consideration. Because sunglasses are on your face and one of the first things others notice, proper styling is critical.

Have no fear however, because the Northside has a resident eyewear guru right here in the Marina. Alex Feldman is a second-generation board-certified optician who has studied biopsychology and vision science as well as mastered the art of eyewear styling. As CEO of San Francisco Optics, one of the top optical boutiques in the nation, Feldman has a keen eye for design and quality. With several exclusive brands, San Francisco Optics has a reputation for having an extraordinary selection of eyewear. That combined with Feldman’s talent for styling faces has resulted in an impressive clientele of celebrities, politicians and athletes.

After years of reshaping and customizing frames for his clients, Feldman combined his experience as an eyewear stylist with his perspective as an optician and created his own eyewear collection, Alexander Daas. Immediately well received, the collection quickly landed in some of the top optical stores in the nation, and has recently expanded internationally into Canada. You may have seen Alexander Daas on Jenny McCarthy while presenting at the 2011 American Music Awards or on Brian Wilson while doing interviews at the 2012 S.F. Giants’ FanFest.

So what advice on sunglasses does Alex Feldman have for us?

  • Sunglasses are important to shield the sun’s brightness, and they are essential to protect your eyes and eye area from UV damage and wrinkles. Make sure your sunglasses have UV protection, which many inexpensive sunglasses do not. Also, not all UV protection is equal. Look for the letters “CE” on the frame to ensure the sunglasses offer a safe level of UV protection.
  • Don’t be fooled by San Francisco’s cloudy and foggy weather. Just because you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean the harmful UV rays are not there; in fact these conditions are potentially more harmful because the fog and clouds magnify the UV rays. On these days, choose a pair of sunglasses with UV-protected gradient lenses, which are lighter so you can still see.
  • Pay attention to the material and manufacturing process for your eyewear. For example, there are many types of plastics available, which is why you can find one plastic frame for $99 while another might be $399. Less expensive frames tend to need frequent adjustments, lose screws often, fade, and break sooner rather than later. If you want to invest in your face and image wisely, choose higher quality frames.
  • Consider buying sunglasses with polarized lenses. Polarized lenses help cut glare by blocking horizontal light waves, the light that is reflected off surfaces. A fun demonstration of this is to take two polarized lenses, and line them up one behind the other so you are looking through both at the same time. Then start rotating one of the lenses and see what happens. Stop by SF Optics and they’ll show you.
  • Another lens feature that can optimize your sunglasses is backside AR and UV. Depending on how tightly your sunglasses fit, there might be openings on the top and corners of the frame that let some light in. This light, which is UV light, can then bounce off the backside of the lens, creating a glare from inside. Backside AR and UV help eliminate this reflection and protect your eyes from UV rays.
  • Get styled into the right pair of sunglasses for your lifestyle and look. Many stores do not assist in styling at all, or pretend to style but literally sell the same frame to everyone. A true stylist will find a unique frame for you that not only looks good but also fits well. Your sunglasses should be large enough for sun protection, but not so large that you look like you’ve been drinking too much Red Bull and have grown wings. Play with colors that complement your skin and hair tone and shapes that enhance your facial features. Although the trend this year is cat eye and rounder shapes, it is more important to select a frame that is right for you. Resist the frame that is an easy sell for the optician with little styling skills.

Make sure to ask the right questions when shopping for what is possibly the most important accessory you have. Contact Alex and his team of stylists and opticians at San Francisco Optics, 2248 Chestnut Street (at Avila), 415-922-7500,

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