Aviator shades are the undebatable sign of manhood. Originally developed by Ray Ban for active pilots in 1937, these shades were designed to be functional. The classic teardrop shape of the lenses helped the pilots stay off the rays when looking down at the controls, while the rubber unibrow bar at the top kept the sweat out of the pilot’s eyes.
Nowadays, active pilots still wear aviator shades, but classy civilians embrace them as a sign of personal style. After all, which man doesn’t want to borrow some of the rough charm of Tom Cruise in Top Gun?
The problem is you have so many options! To be able to make the right pick, here is the 101 on aviator shades – everything you need to know in a nutshell.
Classic teardrop lenses are the most functional, as they provide complete cover from sunlight. And they are the original style. However, if you have a long, droopy face, this shape will enhance this feature, so you may be better with other styles.
Navigator lenses are more squared and will keep up the classic Ray Ban Aviator look with a twist.
And then, there is the sporty style where the lenses have a squared bottom and are wider. This means the shades can embrace your face better, which makes them great for running or cycling.
Metal frames are the norm of classic aviators. The original aviators were made from 12k gold. They might be heavy, but they are really cool!
The next option you have is plastic, which is modern and lighter. Aviator shades made with plastic frame look bolder and sportier, yet they have the same iconic look.
There is also a third option to pick from: the mix between plastic and metal, which provides a classic and fashionable look.
Get the right color
When it comes to aviator shades, each color has a meaning:
Green lenses are the original and they provide a nice balance between contrast and saturation.
Brown lenses brighten your sight, so you can see the details better. This makes them perfect for drivers and bikers or for early morning and late evening, when there are fewer rays.
Mirrored lenses provide the best protection against glare, but they also come with a very sharp and rough look.
Dark gray lenses provide the best protection against strong sunlight, but they also darken things a little, distorting the colors.
Gradated lenses are the mix between gray and brown lenses: they are darker at the top and lighter at the bottom, so you can stay protected and see every detail.
Fit them right
Regardless what color or style you pick, the most important thing in picking your aviator shades is getting the best fit. This comes from the nose bridge – the part which sits on your nose. One millimetre too high, the glasses will allow light to enter underneath them; one millimetre too low and the light will find its way at the top. Make sure you get the nose bridge width right, as this is what makes the entire look and allows the shades to be functional.