Browse our collection of aviator sunglasses and eyeglasses and discover why this iconic shape has remained at the forefront of the fashion industry for more than 70 years. You’ll find a wide variety of durable aviators, from sleek metal styles to thick-rimmed glasses and sunglasses made of lustrous acetate, a plant-based plastic prized for its rich color saturation properties. Explore a variety of classic and contemporary silhouettes for men and women from designer brands like Prada, Versace, Gucci, and more.
The first aviator sunglasses were made for pilots in 1936. At that time, flight capabilities were advancing rapidly, but pilots' gear was stallingtheir goggles weren’t up to the job. So Bausch & Lomb developed sunglasses that wouldn't fog up like goggles, offered a more comfortable and stylish fit, and featured lenses that were dark or mirrored to block more light. Like the original goggles, these new sunglasses had large, teardrop-shaped lenses that offered maximum coverage around each eye. Originally called “Anti-Glares,” they were branded “Ray-Ban” upon their release since they sought to ‘banish’ the sun’s harsh ‘rays.’
The thin, wire-framed sunglasses evolved through the years as new makers began to put their own spin on the look. Randolph Engineering took over the military contract in the 1980s, and countless designer brands began to release their own aviators, as not only sunglasses, but eyeglasses as well. Thick plastic frames and shield-style aviators emerged, as did tinted lenses and various frame finishes.
The Aviator is an iconic eyewear style pioneered by Bausch & Lomb in the 1930s, with large, teardrop-shaped lenses designed to block as much light as possible from the human eye. They also typically feature a double bridge, originally meant to keep sweat from running into a pilot’s eyes. Today, Ray-Ban makes the authentic Aviator in both sunglasses and eyeglasses, but many other brands now produce aviator-style glasses as well.
While aviator glasses can look good on anyone (it’s all about confidence), they are best suited to oval, square, and heart-shaped faces. For more on which glasses will look best on you, check out our face shape guide.
But beginning in the 1950s, Ray-Ban paid to place aviator sunglasses in movies, giving rise to continued popularity over the decades. Elvis wore a flashy version of the oversized frames in the ’70s, and Michael Jackson rocketed thick shield aviators into popularity during the ’80s.Robert De Niro donned an updated square version of aviators in Taxi Driver, which gave the style a boost. And Ray-Ban Aviator sales leaped an incredible 40% after Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer wore mirrored aviator sunglasses in Top Gun.
The iconic style seems to be enjoying yet another surge in popularity. Maui Jim, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, and Gucci are among the countless designer labels that have released their own versions of aviator-style eyeglasses and sunglasses. They’re a chic, high-fashion staple on the runway and red carpet, yet retain their rugged image.
Your aviators should sit comfortably across the bridge of your nose. If the bridge is too short, the frames will sit too high on your face. If your eyelashes touch the lenses, then the bridge of your glasses may be too short. If the glasses slip down your nose and sit closer to the tip, then the bridge may be too wide. Aviators also generally cover the eyebrows, so if they do not, they are most likely too small.
Aviator glasses are known for their teardrop-shaped lenses and double bridges. Navigator glasses maintain the classic doublebridge, but feature more rectangular lenses. Navigators are better suited to round or oval face shapes, thanks to their universally flattering rectangular profile. This is a distinction you may not find everywhere, as navigator-style frames are often referred to as aviators.
With thousands of eyeglasses and sunglasses from your favorite brands, FramesDirect is your one stop shop for all things aviator. Browse our collection of cool aviator sunglasses and eyeglasses to discover your next bold look.