The History: A Classic Style Born
If you're anything like me, you always thought Tom Cruise pioneered aviator sunglasses to the world. In 1986, Top Gun set the stage for a new fashion era. However, the reality of aviators debut was very different. In 1936, the US military commissioned Ray Ban to make sunglasses as standard issue for pilots in the Air Force. Pilots needed protection against sun and glare without decreasing visibility. The dark teardrop-shaped lenses do a great job of covering every angle to keep out as much light as possible. Aviators have continued to be popular among military and law enforcement personnel, but in recent years have grown in popularity around all types of wearers.
Who Made Aviators Popular?
Hollywood has started many a fashion craze, and sunglasses are no exception. Aviator sunglasses became extremely popular in the '80s with Top Gun and a slew of law enforcement movies. Recently, even more movies have surfaced star actors and actresses sporting aviators. Carrie-Anne Moss showed off a pair of black aviators in The Matrix. Johnny Depp played Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas wearing orange-tinted aviator sunglasses. A more recent example would be Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. They wore "Nitro" glasses by Oliver Peoples, classic aviators with yellow lenses.
What Types of Aviators are Available?
The newest style for aviators is colored lenses. Some of the more common colors seen have been blue, purple, pink, orange and yellow. Bolle, Oakley, Dior, Swiss Army and all other popular brands have their own designs of aviator sunglasses. Aviators are even available as prescription sunglasses.
The only true "classic" pair of aviators is the original Ray Ban. However, most other brands that sell aviator sunglasses have based them on the traditional, classic aviators.
Many of the newer pairs of aviators are polarized. Polarized sunglasses block out the majority of horizontal light waves allowing only vertical light waves to pass through untouched.
Reflective sunglasses come with a reflective coating that produces a mirrored look. These aviators often come with a gradient coating that gradually changes from top to bottom. The main disadvantage of mirrored sunglasses is that they are easily scratched. Even so, they look really cool!