When it comes to sunglasses, no style is more recognizable, iconic, and universally flattering than the Aviator. Lightweight, durable, and perfect for going from a day fishing on the lake to an elegant dinner on the patio, the Aviators are one of the most versatile sunglass options available.
First developed by Bausch and Lomb as Aviator or ‘pilot’ glasses in 1936, the glasses were initially designed to protect pilots’ eyes while flying. Replacing the heavy and thick goggles that were previously the standard eye protection for pilots, Aviators quickly became popularized among flight crews thanks to their lightweight finish and stylish design. The popularity of the glasses surged during World War II when General Douglas MacArthur was photographed wearing Aviators after landing on a beach in the Philippines (Bausch and Lomb later named a line of sunglasses after the famous pilot).
Following WWII, the term ‘Aviators’ became synonymous with the style, and the sunglasses quickly became one of the first popularized styles of sunglasses to be sold to the general public. The original design that was created by Bausch and Lomb was taken over by Ray-Ban, with the company continuing with the tradition of the classic design that features bayonet earpieces, a teardrop lens, and an adjustable plastic nosepiece. Aviators saw surges in popularity in the 1950s, 70s, and 80s, thanks to the cultural impact of celebrities like Marlon Brando, Paul McCartney, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson and the 1986 action film Top Gun starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.
While Ray-Ban is now the official maker of Aviator sunglasses, the style has been replicated by other sunglass makers who put their own spin on the iconic design. Flattering on men and women, the timeless and classic style is loved for its universal appeal and instant cool factor. Now we just need to work on getting our pilot’s license.
Check out three aviator style sunglasses that will keep you looking cool and protect your eyes.
1. Ray-Ban Aviator Classic Non-Polarized Sunglasses
The originators of the aviator style, the Ray-Ban Aviator Classic Non-Polarized Sunglasses are the quintessential design of the famous eyewear.
Pros: With all aviator sunglasses trying to look like Ray-Bans, these glasses are the real deal. The metal frames feature a non-polarized glass lens that has a 100 percent UV protected coating. The Ray-Bans come with a carrying case.
Cons: The 2” high and 3” wide frames may be better suited for those with smaller faces.
2. Serengeti Aviator Sunglasses
With a gradient style finish, the Serengeti Aviator Sunglasses feature photochromic technology that lightens and darkens throughout the day to provide a clear view.
Pros: The Serengeti uses photochromic technology, which constantly lightens and darkens the lenses depending on the brightness of a room or outdoor space to provide users with a crisp and clear vision. The medium-sized aviators feature non-polar drivers and a gradient finish on the lens. The Serengeti also comes with a carrying case and cleaning cloth.
Cons: Lenses can scratch somewhat easily.
3. J+S Premium Military Style Classic Aviator Sunglasses
Using an alloy frame, the J+S Premium Military Style Classic Aviator Sunglasses are lightweight and durable.
Pros: The J&S have an adjustable anti-slip silicone nose piece and polarized UV 400 lenses that block out 99.9 percent of harmful rays for a comfortable fit and eye protection. The lightweight and scratch-resistant glasses are designed to reflect and minimize glare. The J&S are available in more than 10 lens color options, and the glasses come with a carrying case, cleaning cloth, and a one-year warranty.
Cons: These glasses don’t feel as high quality as top picks like Ray-Ban.