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Buying Right

See-through Technology The new metal-frame sunglasses: Are they as good as they look? DAVID RAKOFF tries a few on.

Sports-optics companies, in the process of retrofitting the old-school metal-frame shades with new-school technology, now produce sunglasses with enough street style for a trip to the liquor store or dodging paparazzi and trips farther afield. The following models achieve this retro cool with lightweight, shatter-resistant lenses and a no-slip fit while sacrificing zero form to state-of-the-art function. a. At the suggested retail price of $80, these SMITH satin-finish silver frames with polycarbonate lenses make for a stylish deal. This model is called Agent, and while it's not clear whether the makers are alluding to the sports, movie, or (don't count on it) literary variety, these will make you look like a guy who makes things happen—while maintaining unflappable Mastroianni cool. b. With full UVA- and UVB-filtering polycarbonate lenses, BOLLÉ's Meanstreak ($150) specs are easy on the eyes. And thanks to self-adjusting nose pads, they're also a pleasure on the bridge of your schnoz. Every pair of glasses I've ever owned dug into the flesh behind my ears, but these don't, thanks to dead-straight temples and shock-absorbing temple tips. Good news for the large of head, yours truly included. c. "These can't be doing anything," you'll tell yourself as you peer through the clear polycarbonate lenses of OAKLEY's Big Square Wire shades. Yet these dandies not only halt 100 percent of UVA, UVB, and UVC; their lenses also cut glare. All this and you'll look like Easy Rider-era Fonda, too. A bargain at $165. d. Handsome, lightweight, and polarized, the MAUI JIM Titanium ST Koa sunglasses use good ol' glass to cut out glare from all directions and sit securely high on the nose. Alas, those hoping to enjoy the Koa's intrinsic qualities with a modicum of brand anonymity are out of luck: The logo's scrawled on the upper right corner of the lens. For $269, you shouldn't have to advertise for them as well.

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