Think you look cooler in your favorite pair of shades? Scientists think so too.

Trying to emulate James Dean’s cool mystery with a pair of Ray-Bans actually does make a person appear more attractive and interesting, according to new research.

Vanessa Brown of the U.K.’s Nottingham Trent University, in a new academic book, set out to ascertain why we attach certain perceptions and emotions to everyday objects.

In an email interview with Science of Us, Brown discussed what her findings had to say about Western fascination with sunglasses.

1. Sunglasses mask your imperfections

Foremost, sunglasses make your face appear more symmetrical – ergo, more beautiful.

It has become a bit of a cliché that symmetry equals beauty, but it is a cliché the bears truth. Universally, symmetry of features is indicative of beauty – a notion that has been proven by test after test.

Brown explains that by covering the area around the eyes, an area where irregularities are most noticeable, people’s faces are judged as more symmetrical.

Without your facial oddities bared, you will undoubtedly seem more desirable.

2. Sunglasses leave a lingering air of mystery.

Eyes are our most vulnerable exposed feature. Science has proven that people make snap judgments about others based on the subtleties of eye contact.

Thus, if you were to hide your most revealing feature when first meeting someone, your character is less easy to immediately discern. You, in effect, are mysterious.

And we all know that mystery equates to coolness.

Brown explains that this conviction has been proven by science – that is when less is made known about a person, people are consequentially more interested. Such is the reason why we often play hard to get in the dating scene.

3. Sunglasses are synonymous with glamour.

Sunglasses, though ubiquitous today, were first introduced to the mainstream when they were worn by 1950s and 1960s Hollywood starlets and celebrities to avoid being spotted by the paparazzi.

However, the paparazzi, being as astute as they are about the whereabouts of the rich and famous, inevitably captured images of celebrities hiding behind trendy shades.

The consequential popularity of sunglasses was founded on an ideal of Hollywood glamour. They possess a culturally ingrained perception of fabulousness.

Don a pair, and you will feel like Charlize Theron on her way to a premiere.

Brown’s research seems to have cracked the case as to why sunglasses make their wearers feel and appear so much cooler.

Do you think Tom Cruise would have been able to land Lana in Risky Business without that famous pair of shades?


Thomas Freeman is Texas-transplant and aspiring journalist trying (but often failing) to navigate New York City. A current NYU student, Thomas also writes articles and manages media content for 20to30.

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