Ask Belle/Faux Pas: Wearing Sunglasses Inside

Jun 6, 2013

Can you please do a post on people who wear sunglasses on their heads when they’re at the office?

-Twitter Follower

Why yes, yes, I can. Just allow me to brush the dust off of my soapbox…

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 1.26.59 AM

Sunglasses are meant to be worn outside.  To shield your eyes from the sun.  No sun = no sunglasses.  So why do so many people wear them on their heads or around their necks from 9-to-5 when they have no plans to leave their office building?

Ladies, your sunglasses are not a headband.  Gentlemen, your sunglasses are not a necklace.  And don’t even get me started on the weirdos who wear them hanging off the back of their heads like some kind of Guy Fieri wannabe.

People wear them at their desks.  Staffers wear them in committee hearings.  I’ve seen folks wear them in church, in restaurants or at the movies.  And there’s simply no rhyme or reason to it.

What message are you trying to convey?   Are you trying to impress people with the fact that you own Oakleys, or Wayfarers, or Gucci shields?  Do you think the Congressmen, your boss, your lunch guest or the priest is going to be impressed by your sweet taste in shades?

I’m especially perplexed as to why someone would wear their sunglasses while sitting at their desk.  Would you want an applicant to walk into a job interview with her sunglasses on her head or his croakies dangling from his neck?  I would wonder if the person was taking the interview seriously or just passing through, because the sunglasses make me think he/she has somewhere else to be.

Of course, I’m willing to make an exception for someone who quickly runs into a store or a coffee shop before heading back outside.  Even I sometimes pull my sunglasses onto my head if I’m just running inside to grab something and coming right back out. But if you’re going to be indoors for more than 20-minutes or so, it’s time to take the sunglasses off.  So why do so many people rock sunnies under fluorescent lights?

The most common reason why people wear sunglasses regardless of location is because they don’t want to take them off and lose them.  Or so I’m told by the woman I approached in the gym yesterday while she was huffing and puffing on the elliptical, her Miu Miu shades bouncing around her scalp like a pogo stick with every motion. But you don’t need to have them surgically attached to your person at every second to keep them safe (in fact, hers would have been safer in the locker room).

Ladies, if the potential for losing them is a real problem, carry the case in your purse and get into the habit of putting them away when you step inside.  I do this so often, it’s almost second nature.  It also keeps them from getting scratched or damaged.

Men, buy a slim case and slip them inside your inner jacket pocket.  Not wearing a jacket?  I don’t mind seeing them tucked into the placket of your shirt as an alternative.  But if you’re going to be at your desk, take them off and set them down near your cell phone so all your possessions are together.

Keeping your sunglasses at the ready is only required when moving quickly from the indoors to the outdoors, so stop wearing them all the damn time.  It’s not chic.  It’s not professional.  It’s not a status symbol.  It looks like you’re trying too hard or not trying hard enough, dealer’s choice.

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  1. Christy says:

    Hahaha I love this post! I have to admit…I walk to work and sometimes don’t realize my sunglasses are still on my head 20 minutes into my work day. I always take them off though! It’s just that when I walk into the office, I wait to get to my desk to put them away!

    • Belle says:

      That makes sense to me, or I understand how you could forget. But there are people who think this is a good look. Esp. when you’re talking about Oakleys on the back of the head, I do not get it.

    • I always do the same thing becuase I don’t want to fumble with them while dealing with getting in the building. I usually realize around the same time I notice I need to put my eye glasses on because I have a headache. That could be 20 minutes or two hours if I’m just sitting at my desk. But I think I manage not to forget before going into meetings.

  2. Addison says:

    I’m totally with you on this. Regardless of whether it’s a faux pas, I don’t understand why it’s so common because my sunglasses are forever falling off my head or slipping back down onto my nose if I’m going down an escalator too quickly or I bend over to pick something up. I only do it when I’m quickly running into a store and it still drives me crazy. What really gets me though is how often I see people wearing their sunglasses while underground on the Metro, and they’re reading so you know they’re not blind.

    • Dani says:

      I don’t take the Metro (or any other subway), but I wear prescription sunglasses, so when I run into deli’s to get lunch or somewhere quick its easier to keep my prescription sunnies on to read the menu etc rather than change to my regular glasses to change back into sunnies when I step outside.

  3. Michelle says:

    Hello! While the majority of the “offenders” you mention probably don’t, I for one suffer from migraines, and for most migraineurs fluorescent lights are a horrible migraine trigger. As a result, in my office, I keep them all off, but if I step for even a moment outside of my office, my eyes are seared by the fluorescent lights. Hence, I always keep my sunglasses at the ready, that is, usually on top of my head. Am I thrilled about having to do this? Not in the slightest. But since June is Migraine Awareness Month, please be aware that not everyone you criticized in your post is trying to make some kind of fashion statement by keeping their sunglasses at the ready in an office… For some people you meet, it may be their only choice in order to continue working in a migraine-trigger-filled office environment.

    • Belle says:

      You have a legitimate reason, but as you mentioned, most people just think they look cool. But my Mom suffers from migraines, so I feel for you. Fluorescents are the worst.

  4. Heather says:

    My eyes are really sensitive so I wear my sunglasses almost every time I’m outdoors and there’s daylight- even on cloudy days. I put them on my head when I walk inside and then promptly forget about them. And then I feel like an idiot when I realize they’re still there, 4 hours later… I don’t feel them up there!

    • Belle says:

      My Dad has acid splashed in his eyes when he was in his 20s (he was working in a factory) so he needs his even on cloudy days too.

  5. Julie says:

    This must be more of a problem in DC than it is in Chicago, because I feel like I never see this. I do see people with them on their head when outside or transitioning, like you describe, but I’ve never seen someone wear their sunglasses around the office.

    That said, if they did, I think they’d look ridiculous. So I’m in agreement.

    Style by Joules

  6. E says:

    I used to work at Sunglass Hut and first of all, none of the employees ever did this, precisely because it wears out your sunglasses. It stretches plastic frames and causes them to slip down your face/ears. So if you buy nice Miu Miu frames, put them in the case to maintain their shape. Otherwise you’re just ruining an expensive investment.

    As an aside, it’s impossible to put aviator styles on your head because of the nose pads. Maybe everyone should invest. Haha.

    • Karly says:

      I was going to leave the same comment, keeping the sunglasses on top of your head stretches the frames out and makes them too lose. I do it if I’m heading into the store quickly but otherwise they are on my face or in the case.

    • J says:

      When I bought some ray-bans at a Sunglass Hut recently, the sales person specifically told me not to wear them on my head for this very reason. Now, I’m super OCD about putting them back in the case right away. Thanks knowledgeable sales people!

  7. BBB says:

    This post cracked me up. I have to admit – I do break this rule from time to time. Normally, it’s that I push them on my head while fumbling for key fob and getting on elevator, like other posters have mentioned.

    The main other time I keep them on my head is during more casual times when I only carry a clutch of wristlet. During those instances, I do think keeping them on my head is better than trying to carry them along with the clutch – I will almost certainly end up forgetting & losing the sunnies.

  8. Lady Lawyer says:

    You would be laughed out of my office if you had sunglasses on your person all day. I got a super cute hot pink carrying case, and in they go.

    Now, my one exception is this: I am a face-sweater. I sweat a lot on my face. Thanks, genes. So, I never put on makeup until I get to the office, because otherwise I look crazy after my Metro commute. So, I generally wear my sunglasses on the elevator and in to my office so no one will see my sleepy eyes. My assistant is now quite used to seeing me like this. Then I shut the door and get to business on my face. Sunglasses go away until the end of the day when I leave. If it’s still light outside.

  9. Ashley says:

    I wear glasses and my sunglasses are prescription; so when I run errands (like to the grocery store), I just leave my sunglasses on because it’s a hassle to be always switching from sunglasses to glasses. And because my sunglasses are prescription I often times forget that I am wearing them and not my regular glasses.

  10. Anna says:

    I’ve definitely left them on my head for way too long, but it’s mostly cuz I’m forgetful. It’s faster when I’m going through the metal detector to just push them up rather than fumble through my purse for the case, etc. Once I’m in my office, I generally don’t make it out in public with them there though.

  11. Lindsay says:

    Gyms are a bastion of germs. That lady’s sunglasses would not only be safer, but also much cleaner, if she kept them in her locker.

  12. Cynthia W says:

    I don’t do this at work, but I’m an offender when I’m shopping. If I don’t remember to leave them in the car, they generally stay on top of my head the whole time that I’m shopping because my purse is too small to fit my sunglasses. I also will do this in Starbucks or the froyo place.

    It’s so bad that my 2-year-old niece has decided that this must be where your sunglasses belong when you aren’t wearing them and won’t let my sister put hers away when we go indoors. So, not only do I do it way too often, but I am corrupting the next generation of sunglass wearers.

  13. K says:

    Thank you for this rant! I always see people in restaurants wearing sunnies on their head for the entire duration of their meal…. What is the point of this?! I just don’t get it.

  14. Emmalu says:

    It is so un-classy to be wearing indoors-bravo for this post. I agree with you.

  15. Kim says:

    I have worn sunglasses at my desk because I get optical migraines which make me extremely light sensitive. Since its not possible to take a sick day everytime I am afflicted my wearing sunglasses indoors is just something people will have to secretly fume about.

  16. S says:

    I especially like it when people keep wearing their sunglasses once down the Metro escalators. You are UNDERGROUND people, you don’t need sunglasses on.

  17. Pancakes says:

    I like to fold my sunglasses and put one arm into the collar/button placket of my shirt (like you’re paper clipping them…sort of). Of course, I don’t do this when I’m at the office, but perhaps when I’m running errands at the grocery store or at the mall.

  18. K says:

    Ha! I used to do this all the time just out of habit and would forget they were there. I also was just a naive staff assistant, straight out of college, and had no idea it was inappropriate until my chief of staff asked me if she needed to send me a daily calendar reminder to take off my sunglasses when I got to work!

  19. Mara says:

    You guys are reading WAY too much into this, don’t turn into Corporette commenters. I guarantee 90% of the people you see doing this have just forgotten they are there.

  20. Kay says:

    I’m a serial offender of wearing my sunglasses on my head for hours, but partially that’s because I forget, and also because I really like the way my hair falls when held up by a pair. Is there any way to recreate the look with a purpose built accessory?

  21. AnonN says:

    Seriously? People must have nothing better to do than to out so much thought into where other people are wearing their sunglasses!

    I never wear sunglasses on my head because they stretch out. But now, I will buy a cheap pair to do just that so that I can annoy the heck out of some people!

    • Belle says:

      So we’re petty for thinking that it’s unprofessional to wear sunglasses at the office–not to mention a bit funny looking–but you’re the bigger person for suggesting that you would wear them just to upset others? Everyone has pet peeves, this just seems to be one a lot of people share.

  22. Charlotte says:

    My reason is different – my sunglasses have prescription lenses as I prefer not to wear contacts. While I don’t wear them in the office, I do often wear sunglasses inside places like airports, particularly if I’m not carrying my glasses (otherwise I can’t see my gate!). I get some weird looks but generally I’m ok with that – I like to be able to see.
    C

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