Aviator sunglasses stand as a leading and classic style that has withstood the test of time, effortlessly merging function with fashion. Originating from the cockpit and later infiltrating the world of fashion, these timeless eyewear pieces have an illustrious history, sophisticated structure, and a vast range of styles and brands. Regardless of whether you’re a style enthusiast, a history aficionado, or simply someone who loves a sturdy pair of shades, gaining an intermediate knowledge of aviator sunglasses helps you appreciate the craftsmanship behind this iconic accessory, make informed purchase choices, and learn how to optimally care for them.
History of Aviator Sunglasses
The Genesis of Aviator Sunglasses
Aviator sunglasses, as their name suggests, were originally developed for pilots in 1936 by Bausch & Lomb, an American company known for its eye health products. The design aimed to protect pilots’ eyes from intense sun rays and high-altitude glare while maintaining a panoramic view. The original design featured large teardrop-shaped lenses that covered the entire range of the human eye, preventing as many harmful rays as possible from reaching the eye.
Bausch & Lomb branded this new eyewear as “Ray-Ban,” where ‘Ban’ refers to the banning of rays. This name itself promotes the mission of these sunglasses—to protect the wearer’s eyes from harmful UV rays—making them not only a functional tool for pilots but also a potential eye-protecting accessory for the general public.
Aviator Sunglasses Take Flight
Shortly after their creation, aviator sunglasses saw widespread use during World War II, where they became an standard issue accessory for soldiers and sailors. These military endorsements dramatically increased the popularity of aviator sunglasses, and soon they became associated with the image of wartime heroism and bravery.
From Utility to Fashion
Post-war, the aviator sunglasses transitioned from a functional tool to a popular fashion accessory. This transformation was significantly influenced by their constant presence in Hollywood. Notable figures and movie stars started donning these stylish frames both on and off-screen, which dramatically propelled their trend status.
Some iconic instances include General Douglas MacArthur landing on a beach in the Philippines during World War II wearing aviator sunglasses, and photographs of this event published in numerous magazines and newspapers played a significant role in popularizing aviators among the public. Celebrities such as Paul McCartney and Freddie Mercury were frequently spotted with Aviator sunglasses, which further boosted their appeal.
The Hollywood Effect
Movies also played a notable role in promoting aviator sunglasses. Perhaps one of the most significant boosts in the popularity of aviator sunglasses came from the 1986 film “Top Gun,” where Tom Cruise, portraying the character of a skilled fighter pilot, regularly sported Ray-Ban aviators. The popularity of the movie, coupled with Tom Cruise’s strong influence, led to a 40% increase in sales for that particular model in the following months.
In Modern Times
In the contemporary fashion world, Aviator sunglasses remain as popular as ever, adopted by many high-end fashion brands and worn by various celebrities, solidifying their place as a timeless accessory. Modern aviators come in various styles and lens colors, offering something for everyone’s taste. As well, the advent of polarized and mirrored lenses has made Aviator sunglasses even more effective at protecting against harmful UV rays, thereby combining utility and style.
A Look into the History of Aviator Sunglasses
The journey of aviator sunglasses is truly remarkable. From an edgy solution to protect the eyes of pilots, they have now carved out a niche in the fashion industry. This evolution is a brilliant example of how a simple yet thoughtful design, meant for a no-nonsense task, has become a recurring trend in the realm of style and trends.
Anatomy of Aviator Sunglasses
Decoding the Elements of Aviator Sunglasses
Aviator sunglasses are best recognized by their large, typically dark, and reflective lenses, covering around two to three times the area of the eye socket. Their unique “teardrop” shape that broadens slightly near the cheekbone is experimental yet functional as it aims to obstruct light entering the eyes from different directions. The purpose aligns perfectly with the needs of pilots, who require a clear, glare-free panoramic view without having to move their heads.
The lenses can either be polarized, reducing the glare significantly, or may have a gradient tint that seamlessly transitions from dark at the top to a lighter shade at the bottom. The gradient style simulates how our eyes naturally perceive light – darker in the upper field that’s dominated by the sky, becoming lighter towards the ground.
Frames and Bridge of Aviator Sunglasses
Aviator sunglasses are set apart by their thin metal frames. The lightweight steel alloy frame is usually plated with gold or silver. However, in modern versions, you might also across frames made of plastic or polycarbonate. Regardless of the material, the frames of much-loved aviators are designed to be lightweight and comfortable, catering to prolonged usage.
The bridge, or the part that connects the two lenses over the nose, is another crucial component of aviator sunglasses. In traditional aviator design, it’s a double or triple bridge for added support and stabilization. Some modern aviators, however, have a single bridge design too, which gives a contemporary spin to the classic aesthetic.
Temples in Aviator Sunglasses
Last, but not least, are the temples of aviator sunglasses – the long stems that extend from the lenses and fit over the ears. Traditionally, these were straight and thin, designed to slip easily into a pilot’s helmet. But today’s aviators come with curving temples that better grip the wearer’s head, making them comfortable and secure. The temples may also have a padding at the tips for added comfort.
Aviator sunglasses, a stylish accessory, is not only a statement of coolness and classic look but also a functional tool offering optimal eye protection. Their unique features such as large, often polarized lenses, a lightweight frame, a supportive bridge, and secure temples paint a picture of how practical design fuses with style to create the iconic ‘aviator’ sunglasses.
Styles and Brands of Aviator Sunglasses
The Variety in Aviator Sunglasses Styles
The charm of aviator sunglasses remains undiminished since its introduction in the 1930s amongst pilots. These sunglasses with their remarkable large lenses and slim metal frames have struck a chord with users over time, becoming timeless and versatile. There are multiple versions of aviators available to suit diverse facial structures and style preferences.
The Classic Aviator Style
The classic aviator style maintains the original design. It features a teardrop lens shape identical to the natural human eye, thus providing complete protection against sunlight. You’ll often find these frames in shades of gold, silver, or black, boasting a double or sometimes, a triple bridge design.
Square Aviator Style
An update on the classic style, square aviators have a more angular look that can complement round or oval face shapes. The larger size of this style can provide extensive sun protection.
Sporty Aviator Style
Typically includes wider frames and rubberized tips for a snug fit. The lenses are often polarized to reduce glare, making them ideal for outdoor activities.
Top Aviator Sunglasses Brands
Several brands stand out for their exceptional quality, unique selling points, and for staying true to the original aviator style while incorporating modern elements.
Arguably the most iconic brand, Ray-Ban created the original aviator sunglasses for U.S. Airforce pilots in the 1930s. Known for their exceptional quality, Ray-Ban aviators come in various lens colors and frame finishes, and even offer polarized or prescription options. As a recognizable name in fashion, their sunglasses often come at a higher price point.
Known for their sports gear, Oakley aviator sunglasses lean towards the sporty style, offering interchangeable lenses, comfort-oriented design features like rubberized nose pads, and high-definition optics technology for clear vision.
The luxury designer offers a sophisticated take on aviator sunglasses, adding luxury elements such as leather-wrapped frames, gradient lenses, and distinctive T-logos at the temples. As an upmarket brand, Tom Ford’s aviators are on the pricier side.
American Optical is a historic eyewear producer that supplied aviator sunglasses to U.S. military for over a century. Their sunglasses offer excellent quality and performance at a more affordable price point, staying true to the classic military-style aviator.
Factors to Consider when Buying Aviator Sunglasses
As you set out to explore the world of aviator sunglasses, be sure to weigh in factors such as cost, the quality offered, the reputation of the brand, and what materials are used in its construction. A key point to keep in mind is the quality of the lens and whether or not they offer UV protection or polarization. Although high-ended brands often promise greater durability and protection, numerous cost-effective options also exist that provide excellent value for money. Feel free to explore various styles and brands to find one that matches both your needs and budget.
How to Choose the Right Aviator Sunglasses
Choose a Frame according to Your Face Shape
The process of selecting the most suitable aviator sunglasses for you can be considerably simplified if you consider your face shape. The golden rule while selecting glasses is to choose a frame that contrasts with your face shape. For example, square or rectangular frames might complement a round face, adding definition. Alternatively, a square face could benefit from round or oval frames, helping soften the sharper angles. Interestingly, aviator glasses are known to flatter most face structures – particularly those that are heart, square, or oval shaped.
Considering Your Skin Tone
In addition to your face shape, your skin tone also plays a crucial role in choosing the right aviator sunglasses. Skin tones are generally categorized into three types: warm, cool, and neutral. If you have a cool skin tone, sunglasses with silver, black, blue, and grey frames are an excellent choice. For warm skin tones, frames in gold, brown, beige, and olive green work best. Neutral skin tones can handle a broad spectrum of colors.
Knowing Your Lifestyle
Your lifestyle can also significantly impact your choice of aviator sunglasses. If you’re outdoorsy and engage in lots of physical activities, you will need aviator sunglasses with sturdy, scratch-resistant lenses and frames. If your lifestyle is more laid-back or fashion-forward, you might prioritize style and luxury brands. The goal is to choose sunglasses that not only look good but are also durable and functional enough to match your lifestyle.
Infusing Your Personal Style
Aviator sunglasses come in various styles and designs – from classic to modern and from minimalist to embellished. Your personal style is an essential consideration when choosing the right pair. If you lean towards classic, timeless pieces, traditional aviator sunglasses with a metal frame and a dark, mirrored lens could be a perfect choice. If you like stand-out accessories, consider aviator sunglasses with colorful lenses or unique frame designs.
Deciphering Product Descriptions and Names
When shopping for aviator sunglasses, you will come across product descriptions and names that can initially seem confusing. However, understanding these can help you make more informed choices. For instance, ‘polarized’ sunglasses reduce glare from surfaces, ‘mirrored’ ones reflect light away, reducing the amount of light that passes through the lenses. Names like ‘classic’ or ‘traditional’ often refer to the original aviator design, while ‘modern’ or ‘contemporary’ suggests variations in the frame or lens design.
Prioritizing UV Protection
Last but not least, don’t forget about UV protection. The primary purpose of sunglasses is to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, and aviator sunglasses are no exception. Look for sunglasses labeled as providing 100% UV protection to ensure your eyes are adequately shielded from both UVA and UVB rays.
It’s important to consider several factors when choosing aviator sunglasses. These eyewear pieces not only elevate your fashion game but are essential for maintaining comfortable and healthy eyes. Taking the time to carefully select your perfect pair of aviator sunglasses through thorough research can make all the difference.
Care and Maintenance of Aviator Sunglasses
The Importance of Cleaning Your Aviator Sunglasses
Maintaining the pristine quality of your aviator sunglasses is essential for preserving their fashionable appearance and durability. Regular, thoughtful cleaning ensures they continue to look their best. Steer clear of harsh chemicals, like window cleaners, which can potentially damage the lenses. Instead, choose lens wipes or a cleaning solution specifically tailored for eyeglasses. Ultra-fine microfiber cloths are a fantastic choice for cleaning the lenses without the risk of scratches. Always clean gently – vigorous scrubbing can potentially leave behind unsightly scuff marks.
Storing Your Aviator Sunglasses
Proper storage of your aviator sunglasses can do wonders in prolonging their lifespan. When not in use, keep your sunglasses in a hard-shell case. This prevents them from being scratched, broken, or experiencing unnecessary wear and tear. It’s also important to avoid leaving your aviator sunglasses in hot places like the dashboard of your car. The heat can deform the materials and the shape of your glasses.
Adjusting Your Aviator Sunglasses
Properly fitting sunglasses aren’t only comfortable to wear, but they also offer the best vision and protection. If your aviator sunglasses aren’t fitting perfectly, adjustments can be made either by yourself or by a professional. Minor adjustments, such as aligning the frames or tightening the screws, can be handled at home with a mini eyeglass repair kit. However, for more significant adjustments like reshaping the frames, it’s best to visit a professional to avoid damaging your glasses.
Repairing Your Aviator Sunglasses
Accidents happen and sometimes your aviator sunglasses might break or suffer significant damage. In case a lens gets scratched or falls out, the arm breaks, or the nose pad comes off, some repairs can be carried out at home, while others demand professional attention. If you’re not confident about attempting a repair yourself, it’s best to consult a professional. Some eyewear manufacturers might even offer warranties or repair services for their products.
Replacements and Lens Care
It’s also essential to know when to replace the lenses or the entire glasses. If your lenses have significant scratches that impair vision, or the frames are warped beyond repair, it might be time to replace the aviator sunglasses. If it’s just a matter of the lens being scratched, you could just replace the lenses instead of the whole frames. Always consult with your eyewear provider about the available options.
Preventative measures go a long way in preserving your aviator sunglasses’ lifespan. Not only do they prevent damage, but they also reduce the frequency of replacements. Treat your sunglasses gently, avoid putting them lens-down on surfaces, and always use both hands when removing them to maintain their shape. Similarly, quick checks and regular maintenance, such as tightening any loosening screws, can prevent potential damage.
Remember, aviator sunglasses are not just a fashion statement but an investment. With the right care and maintenance, you can enjoy your aviator sunglasses for many years to come. Regular cleaning, correct storage, proper adjustments, and timely replacements can ensure their longevity. Don’t forget to carry out regular checks and maintenance, as prevention is often better than cure in the care of aviator sunglasses.
In effectively understanding the realm of aviator sunglasses, from its historical roots and construction to the renowned brands and varied styles, you’ve also learned about the important factors to consider when selecting the perfect pair to suit your requirements. Moreover, becoming aware of the recommended ways to maintain aviator sunglasses ensures that you not only possess a valuable fashion accessory, but also that you can preserve its quality for an extended duration. This knowledge enables you to experience the blend of practicality, comfort, and style that aviator sunglasses uniquely offer while ensuring their durability and impressive appearance over time.