The best Wayfarer sunglasses (and 4 cheap alternatives)

Few accessories make you look more instantly cool than Wayfarer sunglasses (or bring you spiritually closer to the likes of Debbie Harry, Michael Jackson, Daniel Craig as James Bond, et. al.) Wayfarer sunglasses are trademarked by Ray-Ban, and the brand makes a few stylish options of their most popular style. But virtually every sunglasses brand worth their salt has created their own interpretation of the iconic silhouette, often with more accessible price tags. The best Wayfarer sunglasses on the market right now are characterized by their trapezoidal shape, thick arms, acetate or plastic frames, and bold top bar; though some brands have added non-traditional details to their Wayfarer-inspired styles, like mirrored lenses, wooden arms, or a nonslip coating to keep them in place while you work out.

Ray-Ban first rolled out their Wayfarers in the 1950s, and they quickly caught on among the political, celebrity, or otherwise highly visible set (see: JFK and Marilyn Monroe). Authentic Ray-Ban Wayfarers are something of an investment; but considering their timelessness and versatility, the price-per-wear is unbeatable. If you can't swing a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers, though, set your sights on one of the alternatives on this list, which channel a similar cool vibe for less money.

Beyond price, an important consideration when shopping for sunglasses is whether you prefer polarized or non-polarized lenses — and that’s a personal choice. Polarized lenses inhibit horizontal light to block out glare reflected off surfaces, though they make it harder to see LCD screens. Ray-Ban Wayfarers don’t feature polarized lenses, but they do offer crystal-clear clarity and thoroughly protect your eyes from harmful UVA/UVB rays.

For an effortlessly cool look that doesn’t skimp on functionality, scroll on to shop two of the best Wayfarer sunglasses from Ray-Ban you can get right now, in addition to four similar, less expensive styles from other brands on Amazon.

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The original Wayfarers

Ray-Ban calls their Original Wayfarers “the most recognizable style in the history of sunglasses,” and honestly... fair. This iconic frame is constructed of durable but lightweight acetate, and features its signature forward tilt for a rakish, retro vibe. These classic, crystal-green G-15 lenses block out the majority of blue light and offer ultra-sharp clarity, and their 100% UV coating protects against harmful rays. (Though keep in mind that G-15s aren’t polarized, so they won’t reduce glare.)

The slightly glossy, onyx frames featured above are the most classic option, though you can choose from a few other frame/lens color combinations on Amazon, as well. All styles come with a carrying case and cleaning cloth.

One reviewer wrote: “I bought cheap sunglasses for years and was always replacing them, until Prime Day came along and I decided to shell out. It's totally worth it. My eye doctor recommended wearing sunglasses all the time when outside, even if it's not particularly sunny, so they are not just for looking cool (even though they definitely do.) But taking them off and on so much, I needed something durable, so these are the way to go. Totally worth the investment.”

  • Available lens widths: 46 mm, 50 mm, 54 mm
  • Available colors: 19

The modern Wayfarers

The new guard of Ray-Ban Wayfarers, this updated model features slightly smaller, more rounded frames than their predecessors for a softer finish, which suits most face shapes and sizes. They also lack the original Wayfarers’ forward angle (also called a pantoscopic tilt), which allows less light to penetrate through the top of the frames and lets you wear them on top of your head comfortably. These feature Ray-Bans’ signature G-15 lenses for a sharp, natural vision and are available in a generous 36-shade range.

One reviewer wrote: “I've always been a $20 pair of sunglasses kind of guy. I never understood why people pay a couple hundred bucks for them. So I finally took the plunge and bought a quality pair [...] Now I understand the difference between these and the $20 pair. These fit perfectly and are super comfortable. The ultra classic shape will never go out of style and I've gotten numerous compliments on them already [...] I'm sure I'll have these for a long time. I definitely recommend them.”

  • Available lens widths: 52 mm, 55 mm, 58 mm
  • Available colors: 36

The top-rated alternative

With over 10,900 five-star ratings, these plastic PolarSpex sunglasses are a popular choice on Amazon. The trapezoidal shape is clearly inspired by classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers, as is the ultra-black frame and contrasting silver rivets — though these shades feature polarized lenses to effectively reduce glare, so they could be a better choice for driving during the daytime, or for activities like golfing and fishing. Choose from well over 40 color combinations, from the sophisticated matte black pictured above to bolder options like coral, turquoise, and scarlet frames.

One reviewer wrote: “These sunglasses are absolutely amazing! [...] I have multiple pair of higher end sunglasses and these surpass them all! The clarity is so impressive! I tend to have a lot of trouble with "white" light and these take away that sensitivity completely. Would definitely recommend these to everyone.”

  • Available colors: 40+

The budget three-pack

This three-pack of shades rings up at just $20, so it's an unbeatable value for those on a budget, as well as a good, low-commitment choice for folks who tend to lose or break their sunglasses. One reviewer reported that “their quality is far above their price point,” adding that they feel durable and stay on securely, thanks to their sturdy plastic arms and snug, comfortable fit. The polarized lenses boast excellent clarity, too, so they work especially well for driving on sunny days. This style is also available in singles, two-packs, and an assortment of lens colors, including mirrored ones in punchy brights.

One reviewer wrote: “Phenomenal sunglasses. I drive the city bus at the crack of dawn [...] and most routes take me west/east, pretty much directly in the line of the sunrise. These sunglasses make my job so much easier to manage than ever. Very affordable, too! [...] The frame and arms are a pretty strong plastic that hugs the sides of your head, these things ain't coming off! Great microfiber cloth and carrying sack to boot.”

  • Available styles: 28

The polarized Woodies

The zebra wood arms on these aptly named Woodies sunglasses offer a chill, surfer-vibe take on the stark black Ray-Ban Wayfarer. The polarized lenses are complete with UV400 protection, which also makes them an appropriate choice for beach-goers. Bonus points for the sustainably harvested wood and BPA-free plastic construction. Each order comes with a veritable haul of accessories, including a microfiber cleaning cloth, tie sack, Woodies sticker, and guitar pick.

One reviewer wrote: “The quality of these sunglasses amaze me for the price. They are every bit as good as [$100] sunglasses, because of the quality. The handles are truly made of wood that is so smooth and shows the woodgrain beautifully, lens are of a plastic that are much better than any others I have ever bought, they are lightweight, look very good on male or female and the hinges are metal and well made.”

The runner-friendly pair

With a lightweight frame, snug fit, and unique, nonslip coating along the nose bridge, these goodr OG Sunglasses are designed specifically to stay put (read: no annoying bouncing or slipping) when you’re running, working out, or doing other outdoor activities. Plus, the polarized lenses offer UV400 protection against UVA/UVB rays, and some Amazon reviewers reported that they help protect against wind gusts while running or biking. With six colors to choose from, these shades are a stylish option for non-athletic activities, as well.

One reviewer wrote: “I bought these for mountain biking, and they’re perfect. They’re very lightweight and comfortable. They don’t slip or bounce, even when I’m sweating. And most importantly, the orange lenses and polarization provide great optics in both shade and in direct sunlight.”

  • Available colors: 6