The weather is finally starting to get pretty sunny right now. While that means it’s going to be pretty darn hot soon, it also means it’s about time to pick up some sunglasses.
We know it can be a struggle to choose the right style of sunglasses, which is why we want to recommend you pick up a pair of aviator sunglasses.
Yeah yeah, we know that feels like a cop-out, but trust us, it isn’t. Aviator glasses are flattering for most faces and at the end of the day, they’re just really good at doing the one thing they’re actually supposed to do: block the sun from hitting your eyes. The large teardrop lenses common to most aviators effectively cover your eyes and with the right specs in your lenses, they will protect you from harsh sunlight and dangerous ultraviolet rays.
But before you go dropping big money on a pair of Ray-Bans, you should know the important features of sunglasses to help you buy the right pair.
First, you need to know what the three measurement numbers stamped on the sunglasses or listed online mean. They represent:
- the length of the eye
- the bridge
- the temple of the sunglasses
Usually measured in millimeters, the eye is the width of the lens at its widest length, the bridge is the distance between lenses and the temple is the length of the temple piece, also known as the arm or earpiece.
It also helps to understand the difference between polarized lenses and lenses that offer UV protection, which are commonly mistaken to mean the same thing. UV protection helps protect your eyes from the dangerous rays of the sun while polarized sunglasses eliminate sun glare. That’s why pretty much all legit sunglasses offer 100% UV protection, but not all offer lens polarization. This is important because polarized lenses typically cost more.
When shopping around, you’ll also see that brands will sometimes list a category for the glasses. Categories run from zero to four and they indicate the amount of visible light let through the lenses, with four offering the most reduction of light. Most common sunglasses are a category 2 or a category 3, which is enough light reduction for most everyday tasks.
Alright, now that we know what to expect and how to shop a little more smartly, we rounded up a few of the best aviator sunglasses out there. We made sure to include a variety of styles and price points so whatever your needs you’ll be able to protect your eyes in style.
1. Ray-Ban Aviator Classic
Ray-Ban’s Aviator Sunglasses are the original aviators, so they are the real deal. So many people wear them because the brand not only represents a piece of American history but because the sunglasses just offer an accessible piece of classic cool.
Pros: Ray-Ban claims they are iconic, and they are. The Aviators come in metal frames and offer traditional frame and lens color pairs, like gold and green, gold and brown, and silver and grey mirror. As category 3 sunglasses, they block most sunlight. All the lenses offer 100% UV protection, and for more money, you can buy them in polarized varieties. For our recommendation, we really dig the Ray-Ban Aviators with silver frames and grey mirror polarized lenses. But if reflective lenses aren’t your style, the gold frames with the green lenses will class up any outfit on a sunny day.
Cons: We’re going to be honest here. There aren’t many things to not like about Ray-Ban’s Aviators. We recommend them not because they’re popular but because they really are some of the best aviator sunglasses out there. If you don’t want to be wearing the same aviators as everyone else, you should probably look elsewhere.
2. Ray-Ban Aviator Gradient
The Ray-Ban Aviator Gradient sunglasses deserve their own space because they offer all the same pros and cons as the traditional Aviators and the gradient lenses are as cool as the traditional lenses. Some of the color schemes are the same, but not all. Among the differences, we really dig the gold frames with the polarized blue/grey gradient lenses. Something about them just says, “Let’s get to the going already!”
3. RAEN Munroe Square Aviator Sunglasses
RAEN offers stylish frames designed in sunny Oceanside, California. It only takes a quick scroll through RAEN’s offerings to see designs similar to those of more established brands.
Pros: These RAEN Munro Square Aviator Sunglasses stand out for their more square frames, which come in an unreasonably cool rose gold and plum wine frame and lens combo, in addition to other options. They’re pricey but typically less expensive than other name-brand frames and offer UV protection. If you’re looking for a somewhat different aviator with traditional color designs, these are a great way to stand out without standing out too much.
Cons: These lenses are not polarized, and the square shape of the lenses might be off-putting for those seeking more traditional-looking aviators.
4. Randolph Engineering Aviator
Randolph Engineering’s Aviator sunglasses come from the same military-inspired tradition as Ray-Ban does, only Randolph takes the engineering up another level. The brand boasts nearly indestructible metal frames and unlike most other sunglasses makers, Randolph Engineering is still family-owned and operated and manufactured in the United States where the company was born, Randolph, Massachusetts.
Pros: Randolph Engineering Aviators truly walk the walk. The brand’s mineral glass lenses offer enhanced contrast, reduced glare and offer more impact resistance than competing lenses. Temple tips also help keep your sunglasses in place no matter what you’re getting up to, including but not limited to flying fighter planes. Specs aside, Randolph Engineering offers multiple colors of high-quality frames and lenses, so you can get the perfect colors for whatever look you’re going for. We personally like the gold frame and tan lens style. Taken altogether, it’s hard to deny Randolph Engineering makes some the best aviator sunglasses available.
Cons: You get what you pay for and make no mistake, these high-quality sunglasses come with an appropriately expensive price tag.
5. Privé Revaux The Commando
You might remember seeing a ton of advertisements a couple of years ago with Jamie Foxx and other celebrities. They had just co-founded a new sunglasses company, Privé Revaux, and they wanted you to know all about it. In their defense, they had something legitimate to offer: luxury fashion-inspired frames at bargain prices. That’s what Privé Revaux offers and it’s what it delivered with its The Commando sunglasses.
Pros: The Commando sunglasses are stylish and cheap as hell. But despite the price tag, these sunglasses are polarized and offer 100% UV protection in multiple colors. The best part is if you lose or break them, a common occurrence for even the sturdiest sunglasses, they do not cost much to replace from either Amazon or Privé Revaux’s main website.
Cons: These sunglasses will get the job done, but they’re definitely not among the best aviator sunglasses and the quality is definitely wanting. If you’re a little too rough with them or wear them too often, they will loosen and come apart faster than higher-quality sunglasses.
6. Ermenegildo Zegna Navigator Sunglasses
Ermenegildo Zegna might not be a household name like Gucci or Prada, but the Italian brand still makes high-fashion clothing and accessories, such as these aviator-style Navigator Sunglasses.
Pros: These sunglasses offer the upscale style you’d expect for a luxury fashion house. The metal frames come in a nice rustic brown paired with greenish-brown gradient lenses that offer 100% UV protection. The temples are also part brown metal and part tortoise shell acetate for extra stylistic flare. This style is currently on sale for under $100 at Nordstrom Rack, which is a steal for these.
Cons: The 59-millimeter eye is bigger than those in comparable aviators, so these sunglasses might not suit all faces, and the lenses aren’t polarized, which is a real bummer for sunglasses so stylish.