Modern and Classic Aviator Styles for Summer

When it comes to sunglasses, everyone is wearing aviators this year. Back in style, with glamorous gradient lenses and embellished frames, aviators are right-on-trend.

Since their initial launch in 1937 by sunglass giant Ray-Ban, the classic aviator is still going strong, but current styles vary slightly this season. Popular with celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Kate Moss, and Victoria Beckham, these classic shades are now available in embellished versions, a ’70s retro look or futuristic plastic frames. Think Tom Cruise in Top Gun and Farah Fawcett in Charlie’s Angels: retro metal is once again hip and hot.

Favored by the Hollywood set, from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna, Ray-Ban sunglasses are the best selling (and probably the most recognized) eyewear in the world; with brands like the Aviator and Wayfarer, Warrior and Predator.

The History of Aviator Sunglasses

First designed by Ray-Ban in 1937, Aviators were first worn by the pilots of the U.S. army pilots and that is how they got their name. Later they were spotlighted on the movie screen by Tom Cruise and James Dean, and today more and more women are wearing these iconic sunglasses.

Aviators are characterized by their reflective drop-shaped and distinctive double-bridge lenses, which are two or three times the area of the eye. The shape and the size of the lenses are preventing most of the light from entering into the eye, no matter what the angle. Initially, the design was based on the flying goggles which Ray-Ban were selling to the Navy and the military. Aviators are also popular with North American police forces, due to their extensive eye protection and reduction in glare.

How to Wear Aviators

Aviators are a good investment as they remain timeless. Classic sunglass styles of this type rarely go through a major overhaul like other areas of fashion, so they will transcend seasons.

However, whether it’s iconic Ray-Bans or other designer labels, every year there are slightly new twists on the classic frame. This year there are sunglasses with different types of embellishments, elegant colored drop-lenses as well as different flirty and retro plastic frames.

Aviator sunglasses are ideal for everyday wear as they can make feminine frock look tougher or provide a street look with a bomber jacket and jeans. suggests breaking with convention and going for a unisex style or a style intended for the opposite sex, which makes a very individual fashion statement.

Other Brands

In addition to Ray-Bans, other well-known designers such as Burberry, Dolce & Gabanna, Gucci, and Prada have their own branded versions. One of the most stylish for 2008 is the large Burberry Retro Aviator 3020, with thick arm-frame. For something a little more delicate there’s Prada’s 56IS or 65IS with diamante studs along the arms.

One of the hottest runways looks at the moment, being promoted heavily by online stores such as Net-a-Porter and Asos, is Matthew Williamson’s oversized aviators. According to Net-a-Porter, “these oversized and super-chic classic aviators will last for summers to come.” To get an idea of the many aviator styles available, and which best suit your face shape, dedicated online sites like SunglassHut offer a wide selection of designer brands and style advice.