Nothing says classic style quite like a pair of aviator shades.
There is a good reason why we tend to associate high-octane, rugged good looks intuitively with this iconic style of sunglasses. It was originally designed in 1937 for U.S. fighter pilots by Ray-Ban. The teardrop-shaped, large lenses enabled pilots to look down at the control panels and protect against sunlight at the same time. Also, the rubberized brow bar prominently spanning the width of the sunglasses on top had a practical purpose within the sweltering cockpit – by keeping sweet out of the eyes of the pilot as they were shooting enemy planes down.
Although aviator shades are still commonly worn by activity duty airmen today, they have also become a staple among civilians and women who are wanting to incorporate some of the Right Stuff swagger into their styles. However, since its inception during World War II, the aviator style has continued to evolve, and men must now choose from many different options. To help us explore the expanding aviator sunglasses world, I spoke with several stylists across the city. They provided me with a rundown of the critical things you should be looking for when choosing aviator shades for regular use. We will be discussing the various materials and styles of today’s aviators along with the lenses that provide you with the best protection from the sun and color saturation to allow you to look great and see better whether you happen to be out on the town or flying high in the sky.
Styles of Aviator Sunglasses:
Classic Teardrop: this is the classic aviator look that we are all familiar with. If you are purchasing aviator shades because you would like to tap into its high-octane, rich heritage, then go with the teardrop style aviators. From a functional standpoint, the teardrop shade provides the highest amount of coverage from sunlight. Although one of the stylists doesn’t buy into the rule of specific face shapes going with certain eyeglass frames, she did say if you have a longer-shaped face then the teardrop-shaped aviator style will, unfortunately, make your face appear droopier and even longer.
Navigator. This style has a more squared off look compared to the teardrop shape. It will help out stand out in the sea of people wearing aviator shades. For men who have longer faces, this is the perfect shape.
Sporty. If you lead an active lifestyle and would like to wear aviator shades while running or biking, check out those sporty-shaped lenses that are being put out by some companies. Sporty aviators feature a squared-off bottom. However, the actual lenses are more extensive, allowing them to wrap around the face and keep more of the sunlight out. Due to being square off on the bottom, the sport-style aviator shades won’t be as front-heavy compared to traditional teardrop aviator shades.
Materials for Aviators
Metal. Classic aviator shades have a metal frame with either a silver or brass finish (Interesting fact: the original WWI aviator frames were made out of real 12k gold). Aviator shades with metal frames are substantial, however, they look cool and have been built to take a good beating.
Plastic. If you are someone who is more forward-looking when it comes to fashion but would still like to capture part of the traditional aviator look, then you can consider the expanding selection of plastic aviator shades. They have the aviator silhouette, but a completely different look. They have thicker frames compared to traditional metal-framed aviators, which provides you with a sportier and bolder style.
Mixed Material. These aviator sunglasses blend metal and plastic. The metal provides you with a classic aviator feeling, while the plastic offers a sporty look. According to Gary, lately, this aviator style has been tending at both of his stores.
The aviator lens colors go beyond aesthetics; every single tint color offers various degrees of color enhancement and light blocking.
Brown lens. These lenses tend to create saturation and brighten with color to sell you to see details better. Since brown lenses brighten your view, it enables you to wear your sunglasses early in the day as well as later on when there isn’t as much sunlight. The sight-enhancing features make brown lenses perfect to wear when you are driving a motorcycle or car.
Mirrored lens. These lenses both reflect and absorb glare, which provides maximum glare protection to you. When it comes to mirrored lenses, the only potential downside is they have a pretty intense look to them, kind of like the correctional officer who was in the Cool Hand Luke movie.
Dark gray. Light is knocked out by dark gray lenses so that you don’t have to squint even on really bright days. The drawback is colors are darkened a lot by dark gray lenses, so you won’t get as much of the color detailing compared to what brown lenses give you.
Graduated lenses. This type of lens provides you with the best of both dark gray and brown lenses. The top part of the glass is darker, which reduces overhead sun while you are driving, but the bottom portion is lighter so that you can see details while still having some sun protection as you are glancing down to look at a newspaper or book while sitting next to the pool.
Green lens. This is the classic, original color for aviator sunglasses. Green doesn’t darken things or saturate color; instead it is neutral. If you are searching for a middle ground when it comes to light blocking and color saturation, then green is a good option.
How Your Sunglasses Should Fit You
No matter which lens color, shape, or style you choose, the most critical factor when choosing sunglasses is its bridge fit. This bridge represents the distances between the two lenses as they fit on your nose. When a bridge is too small, the sunglasses will sit too high up on your face and let in light through the bottom part of the shades. If the bridge fits too widely, then your sunglasses will sit on your face too low and allow light to come in from on top of the shades. Even one millimeter can make a big difference when it comes to bridge fit. That is why it is essential when purchasing any sunglasses to try them on before you buy them to see how they fit and look on you.