Aviator sunglasses have become a wardrobe staple renowned for their teardrop-shaped lenses and slim metal frames. Originally designed for pilots, aviators first soared into mainstream fashion over 70 years ago. And their popularity has never slowed down.
Both classic and innovative modern designs continue to attract legions of aviator lovers today. These sunglasses complement a variety of styles and face shapes too.
In this post, we’ll cover why aviators remain so iconic decades after their invention. We’ll also highlight the top aviator styles on the market and provide tips for choosing the right pair to match your look. Read on to master the art of rocking aviators!
The Origins and Rise of Aviators
Aviator sunglasses emerged out of function before form. As early as the 1930s, pilots required eyewear to cope with high altitude glare. Sunglasses with large lenses and a close brow fit helped combat brightness while not obscuring vision.
The teardrop lens shape in particular provided exceptional coverage and visibility. In 1936, Bausch & Lomb launched the now classic Ray-Ban Aviator model worn by military pilots. Their stylish frames were constructed from lightweight metal with adjustable rubber nose pads for comfort.
Over the following decades, celebrities and public figures gave aviators star power. Figures like General Douglas MacArthur and Audrey Hepburn made the sunglasses synonymous with glamour and adventure. Pop culture in movies like Top Gun cemented their cool factor.
Today aviators remain perennial bestsellers thanks to their versatility, durability and attitude. While the original styles maintain vintage appeal, new designs also emerge every season. Let’s look at some of the top contenders in this competitive field.
The Top 5 Aviator Sunglasses
1. Ray-Ban Original Aviator Sunglasses
You can’t discuss aviators without paying homage to the OGs. Ray-Ban’s archetypal teardrop sunglasses are credited with starting the aviator craze. Their unmistakable shape and thin metal frames make a timeless fashion statement.
The Original Aviator model comes in a range of lens sizes from 55mm to 62mm to suit different face shapes. Mirrored, gradient and polarized lenses provide functionality like glare reduction. You can also choose from a spectrum of frame finishes, including gold, gunmetal and brushed silver. Adjustable nose pads and sturdy construction ensure durable wear.
For many, Ray-Ban aviators are the definitive choice. Their smooth metal frames exude classic cool that other brands aspire to emulate.
2. Randolph Engineering Aviator Sunglasses
Randolph Engineering also has aviation roots, producing aviator sunglasses for the U.S. military since 1978. Their bold frames feature the iconic Bayonet temple – a straight stem with a subtle bend. This provides a secure fit and complements the rectangular lens shape.
The handmade frames are crafted from tough yet pliable stainless steel or titanium. Lenses come in mineral glass for optical clarity and scratch resistance. While the original 52mm Navigator frame suits most, scaled versions cater to both small and large faces.
With a lifetime guarantee against defects, Randolph aviators represent a worthwhile investment. For those who want military-grade specs with heritage appeal.
3. Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses
Oakley gave the classic aviator an edgy sporty update with the Holbrook line. The lightweight C-5 alloy metal frames come in a mix of rectangular and rounded styles. Oakley’s Prizm lenses optimize color contrast and visual definition.
Made to withstand athletic adventures, Holbrooks feature grippy nose pads and ear socks. Lenses come in a huge array of tints from Violet Iridium to 24K Iridium, many of them interchangeable.
For the active crowd, the Holbrook combines old school cool with new tech. Reviewers praise their clarity of vision and comfort over hours of wear. Oakley offers a wide selection of frame and lens combos to mix and match.
4. Tom Ford Charles Classic Aviators
Tom Ford brings a polished take on aviators, proving the style still looks at home with luxury branding. The Charles frame features slimline metal topped with sleek acetate. Signature Tom Ford logos stud the temples and lenses.
Gradated lenses transition from dark to light. Adjustable nose pads provide a tailored fit. The shape flatters most faces while projecting sophistication. For the fashion conscious, Tom Ford aviators make a refined statement.
Expect impeccable craftsmanship from the high-end brand. Made in Italy with premium materials like acetate and stainless steel. The Charles model brings timeless elegance to aviators.
5. Warby Parker Chamberlain Aviators
Warby Parker made waves by offering designer-quality frames at a $95 price point. Their Chamberlain aviator manages to balance affordability and style.
The rounded acetate frame comes in a spectrum of colors like Whiskey Tortoise and Jet Black Matte. Gray and brown gradient lenses offer retro appeal. Key details like the iconic teardrop shape and keyhole bridge provide a true aviator look.
As with all Warby Parkers, you can try these on at home for free before committing. The brand adds their own twist to the aviator style with playful transparent frames and lens hues. Quality construction and UV protection still comes standard.
For budget-friendly aviators, Warby Parker presents a compelling option. Their classics like Chamberlain keep company with pricier brands.
How to Choose the Most Flattering Aviator Sunglasses
Aviator sunglasses are renowned for suiting diverse faces. But some styles will inevitably be more flattering for your unique facial structure. Follow these buying considerations for aviators that accentuate your best features.
Consider Your Face Shape
Face shape plays a key role in choosing flatteirng aviator lens size and frame shape. Here’s a quick guide:
- Oval faces have balanced proportions ideal for any aviator style. Opt for classic teardrops.
- Round faces are complemented by angular frames that add definition. Avoid small circular lenses.
- Square faces benefit from rounded aviators to soften edges. Curved frames add symmetry.
- Heart-shaped faces suit softly curved lenses and delicate metal frames. Balance a wide forehead.
- Diamond faces need lightweight aviators that don’t overwhelm a narrow jawline.
Stick within these guidelines to pick aviators tailored to your facial structure. The most flattering frames will align with your natural contours.
Select Lens Size, Shape and Color
Once you’ve determined the ideal frame shape, consider lens dimensions. Larger lenses around 58mm provide optimal sun protection and vision coverage. They better shield the eye area from stray light. For smaller faces, proportions closer to 54mm create balance.
The teardrop lens works well for most faces, but spherical and rectangular shapes also have their merits. Mix it up or stick with the iconic.
For lens color, gray, green and brown tints enhance contrast while minimizing glare. Gradient lenses transition from dark at the top to transparent at the bottom. Mirrored or reflective coatings also reflect light away from the eyes.
Mind the Fit and Frame Material
Metal frames withstand frequent use, but plastic styles offer vivid colors. Look for adjustable rubber pads that prevent slippage at the nose. Curved temple tips should contour comfortably around your ears.
Flex hinges allow the arms to bend for a custom fit. This accommodates a range of head shapes. Make sure aviators grip your nose and head securely without pinching. The ideal pair should feel like a natural extension of your face.
Consider Lens Technology and Treatments
Premium lenses enhance visual clarity and protect eyes. Polarized lenses eliminate glare bouncing off flat surfaces like water or pavement. Photochromic lenses adapt to light conditions by self-darkening in sunlight.
Anti-reflective coatings guard against distracting lens flare and eye fatigue. A scratch-resistant layer maintains clarity. Good UV protection is essential for filtering harmful rays.
Upgraded lenses cost more but also boost performance. Determine if the benefits justify the added expense for your lifestyle.
Optimize the Setting and Usage
Aviator sunglasses shine in the right environment – think bright, sunny days with reflective surfaces. Wear them driving, boating, lounging poolside or playing sports. The durable frames also handle active settings well.
Just avoid lower light and nighttime wear. The darker tints that make aviators ideal for sun can hinder visibility after dark. Match your shades to the lighting conditions.
Store aviators in a protective case when not worn to prevent scratches. Clean the lenses regularly with a microfiber cloth and cleaning solution to maintain visibility. Over time, frames will adjust to your face for a custom fit.
Frequently Asked Questions About Aviators
Q: Why are aviator sunglasses so popular?
Aviator sunglasses have universal appeal thanks to their iconic styling first popularized by military pilots. The teardrop lenses, rimless bottom and adjustable nose pads became staple features.
Hollywood cemented their cool factor and celebrities helped catapult aviators to fame. Their ability to complement different face shapes also adds to their sustained popularity over decades. Aviators manage to be both democratic in appeal and elevated in reputation.
Q: When should you wear aviator sunglasses?
Aviators are ideal for frequent wear in sunny conditions. Their prominent lenses and close-fitting construction excel at blocking glare bouncing off the ground, water or snow. Wear them anytime you’ll be driving, boating, lounging outdoors or playing sports.
Just note the dark tints limit visibility in low light. Save aviators for daytime and switch to clear glasses after the sun sets. Their durable builds can withstand daily wear for years as long as you store them safely when not in use.
Q: How can you tell good quality aviator sunglasses?
Start by inspecting the frame material – quality aviators will have lightweight yet strong metal frames that don’t bend or loosen easily. Authentic Ray-Ban metal contains carbon fiber for added resilience.
Next check lens material – polycarbonate and mineral glass provide durability and scratch resistance. The presence of adjustable rubber nose pads also signals attention to detail.
Finally, examine lens treatments. Polarized, photochromic, anti-reflective and 100% UV blocking provide functionality. Brand reputation also serves as a proxy for construction quality.
Q: How do you properly clean aviator sunglasses?
Use a lens cleaning solution and microfiber cloth to gently wipe down the front and back of the lenses. Avoid using just water or your shirt, as this can leave scratches or lint. Air dry instead of wiping the lenses to prevent smudging.
To clean the frames, use a damp soft cloth with mild soap if needed. Take care not to get any solution on the lenses. Rinse off any soap thoroughly with clean water to avoid residue.
Vintage frames may require extra care. Inspect manufacturer instructions for specific guidelines. Proper cleaning and storage extends the usable life of quality aviators.
Q: Can women wear aviator sunglasses?
Absolutely! Aviators complement women’s fashion when chosen strategically. Go for slim metal frames in light gold, silver or transparent colors. Gradient or mirrored lenses also have feminine appeal. The key is balancing proportions. Smaller lenses around 50mm suit most women’s delicate features.
Rounded aviators soften square jaws while angular frames give definition to oval faces. Pair your shades with sundresses, jeans or swimwear. Add jewelry like chains or charms for extra style. With the right pair, women can easily rock the aviator look.
Q: How do you stop aviator sunglasses from slipping?
Start by adjusting the nose pads to grip your nose firmly without pinching. Position the earpieces to contour snugly around your temples.
If slippage still occurs, tighten the nose pads further or consider smaller frames that better fit your nose width. You can also try added texture at the nose with grip tape or silicone pads to prevent sliding.
For active use, secure your aviators with an eyeglass strap or lanyard around your neck. This counteracts bounce and movement that can dislodge your shades. A snug fit is key to keeping aviators in their rightful place.
Stay Timeless With the Right Aviators
Aviator sunglasses have proven their lasting appeal both on the runway and the sidewalk. Their flattering shape ushered in a new age of eyewear. While the original styles maintain vintage cred, new interpretations continue to emerge.
Follow our tips to select aviators tailored for your face, features and style. A quality pair should enhance your vision while accentuating your natural good looks. With the right frames, you can emulate old Hollywood glamour or Top Gun rebel edge.
Allow this iconic accessory to express your personal flair. Because aviators never really go out of fashion.