The history of aviator glasses

With the recent release of the new top gun movie, aviator glasses, which have gradually risen to popularity again, have received their deserved spotlight. These metal frame sunglasses have been made popular since the 1940s and continue to enjoy their fame for their functionality and bold style. But apart from having framed the faces of many celebrities, these aviator sunglasses have had an interesting history.

Functional (military) sunglasses

While pilots have had the need for glasses up in high altitudes ever since before the second world war, aviator sunglasses were first created when the need for a pilot’s focus and sharpness was higher than ever. Before the creation of these practical sunglasses, pilots wore bulky eye protection goggles that fogged up easily and did not provide the clarity of sight that the pilots needed when flying. In high altitudes, pilots were often blinded by the glare and bright blue and white light from the sun and the sky. To reduce that glare, and to improve the pilot’s vision, the functional aviator sunglasses were created and mass produced for pilots and sailors throughout the late 1930s and the 1940s.

The new metal frame aviator sunglasses were able to protect the pilot’s eyes from all elements, as well as reduce the glare that frequently disturbed the pilot’s vision when flying. The pilot glasses were made from metals, had a teardrop shape that resembled the old pilot goggles and had green tinted lenses. Their unique shape ensured that pilots had a wide and undisturbed field of vision, while reducing radiation and glare from all angles, and the green tint ensured that blue light glare was reduced and the pilot’s vision was sharpened when operating in the sky. 

Not only were the lenses designed to improve the pilot’s works, the unique brow bar above the nose bridge ensured the wearability under headgear, like helmets or caps. The “double bridge” is now the most recognisable feature of these metal aviator glasses.

Pilot glasses become popular

While this type of metal sunglasses was created to make life easier for military personnel, the 1950s cultural style mimicked military style and made aviator spectacles popular for everyone. Stars of that decade, including Elvis Prestley famously wore this shape of eye protector.

They made their return in the 1970s and 1980s, as aviator manufacturers increasingly marketed this style of spectacles and as films like Taxi Driver or, most famously, Top Gun, popularised the shape for the public again. Aviator sunglasses have since framed many celebrities’ faces and remained a staple throughout public appearances of the likes of Michael Jackson, David Bowie and even Stevie Nicks.

Aviator glasses for women

While this style of sunglasses was formerly widely popular amongst men, gradually, women started claiming their distinct style for themselves too. This shape of eyewear created a distinct style and many women chose to distinguish themselves as assertive and reclaimed this bold and imposing look that was mostly worn by men before. 

Colours and design became more adapted to the public’s demands and many designers took on the shape and responded to the demand of aviator glasses for men and for women.

Aviator glasses today

Nowadays, aviator glasses are back in style. As innovation and fashion go hand in hand, new colours and shapes emerged. From 70s Rock to today’s style, aviator glasses have remained a fascination for many and a staple bold look. Whereas the original pilot spectacle was teardrop shaped and had green-tinted lenses, any colours and more round or rectangular shapes are now also widely available.

Even though their name might suggest otherwise, you are probably more likely to see pilot glasses of any kind worn by the passengers on board, than their pilot.

How to wear aviator glasses

While it is also a fashion statement, pilot glasses are perfect for active times spent outdoors, as they protect your eyes from the glare you might experience. Especially for golfing and fishing, many people have opted for an affordable pair of aviator sunglasses.

If you want to create a unique and bold look, these timeless frames are the perfect addition to your collection. They will make you stand out and create an assertive look, while at the same time ensuring your eyes are perfectly safe from UV radiation. If you want to look your smartest self while reading your favourite book this summer, you should opt for a pair of aviator sunglasses with strength, like our Clarke model. If you have just left the cinema and you wish to channel your inner maverick and you plan on being outdoors, opt for the practical Williams model instead.

Pilot glasses for everyday wear

Aviator glasses made pilot’s lives easier as they made sure that their field of vision remained sharp. If you want to ensure the same, opt for a pair of reading glasses to keep your vision and your looks sharp or go for some of our Danish designer metal frame sunglasses to compliment your looks. Or protect your eyes from harmful blue light, just like pilots used to do above the clouds, by opting for a pair of blue light glasses with strength, to make life easier.