When Did Aviator Sunglasses Become So Popular?

Aviator sunglasses may be fashionable, statement-making eyewear in 2017, but this popular shape has been on the scene since 1936. The teardrop-shaped sunglasses were originally developed for use by US Air Force pilots. Since then, they have made countless appearances in movies, in celebrity wardrobes, and on the runway. The classic ‘pilot-style’ aviator frames seem to land on the ‘top trends’ lists more often than not. When did aviator sunglasses become so popular?

Aviator Sunglasses in History

Bausch & Lomb developed the original aviator-style sunglasses as an alternative to flight goggles that couldn’t perform as the job required. Flight capabilities were advancing rapidly while the pilots’ gear stalled. The sunglasses Bausch & Lomb created wouldn’t fog up like goggles, offered a comfortable, more stylish fit, and the large shape and dark or mirrored lenses blocked more light to better protect pilots’ eyes. Originally called ‘Anti-Glares,’ they were branded ‘Ray-Ban’ upon their release since they sought to ‘ban’ the harsh ‘rays’ from the sun.

General Douglas MacArthur, 1944.

Ray-Ban aviators became standard military issue during World War II and became famous after photos surfaced showing General Douglas MacArthur wearing his.

The image became the go-to ‘wartime’ look in Hollywood. After the war, the military style became popular among both private and commercial pilots, police officers, and sportsmen due to their utility and performance.

The thin, wire-framed sunglasses evolved through the years as makers began to put their own spin on the style. Randolph Engineering took over the military contract in the 1980s, and countless designer brands began to release their own aviators. Thick plastic frames and shield-style aviators began to appear, as did tinted lenses and various frame finishes. The 1970s brought feminine styling to the rugged military look using softer colors and rhinestones. This fresh approach gave the large, tough frames a unisex appeal.

Aviator Sunglasses in Pop Culture

The aviator style’s rose in popularity as it appeared in more and more films throughout the decades. Beginning in the 1950s, Ray-Ban paid to place aviator sunglasses in movies and the trend stuck. Military and police films drove the popularity of the style, while celebrities favored the look on stage and in public. 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. Sales leapt a shocking 40% after Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer wore aviator sunglasses in  Top Gun.

Hollywood continued to feature aviators on screen year after year. Cobra intimidated in a pair of outdoorsman aviators, Johnny Depp’s Raoul Duke showed off Ray-Ban shooter aviators in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Bradley Cooper’s character counted on classic Ray-Ban aviators to shield his eyes from the brutal daylight in The Hangover.

This iconic style seems to be in the middle of yet another resurgence of popularity. Maui Jim, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, and Gucci are among the countless designer labels that have released their own aviator sunglasses. It’s a chic, high-fashion staple on both the runway and red carpet, yet retains its rugged, tough image. While Tom Cruise wears a pair of Randolph Engineering aviators in the recent crime film American Made, fashionistas and frenzied dressers grab their aviator sunnies before heading out on the town. After 80 years , the style’s popularity shows no sign of slowing down. With a decades-long run, maybe the question should be, were aviator sunglasses ever not popular?

golden globes 2017

Golden Globes 2017 Eyewear Edition: Glasses of the Stars

The stars came out in droves for the 2017 Golden Globes awards ceremony last night. All eyes were on the red carpet, checking which celebrities brought their A-game. While La La Land was the clear winner, the film Moonlight and the television show Atlanta were on everyone’s lips as they collected the accolades. The audience was also filled with excitement when Brad Pitt took the stage to present.

But the big moment of the night went to Meryl Streep, the recipient of this year’s Cecil B. DeMille Award. Streep is regarded as one of the finest actresses in the film industry. She used her platform of recognition last night to address political concerns and issue a call-to-action for artists and journalists. Always the epitome of class, Streep looked regal in a black gown with bejeweled applique and, of course, a pair of glasses.

Lulu Guinness L750 Eyeglasses

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If you’re in the market for a coppery, semi-rimless, cat-eye frame like Meryl’s we’ve come up with a few options that fit the bill. The Lulu Guinness L750 eyeglasses are comparable. And this Vera Wang pair (Caitlin) are also similar. But you can take this look to the next level, with Lafont Indigo frames, a true style statement.

Billy Bob Thorton accepted the trophy for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series (Drama) for his performance in the Amazon Original Series Goliath wearing sunglasses that look a lot like the Ray-Ban Clubround.

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And Steve Carell, along with Kristen Wiig, introduced the films nominated for best animated feature film. While handing out the award to Zootopia, Carell wore some interesting two-tone acetate frames that gave his look a retro twist. You too can be quirky-cool like Steve in these Shuron Sidewinder eyeglasses. Choose the “Black Fade” option or the popular “Crystal” clear version to take part in this throwback trend.

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The Beatles Sunglasses

Beatlemania has taken over at FramesDirect.com! We’ve now got the complete line of Official Beatles Sunglasses! These sunglasses are made by Revolution Eyewear and are officially licensed by The Beatles. There are 10 colorful styles to choose from featuring the unique artwork from the Yellow Submarine film made from two types of patented technology: HDA (High Definition Acetate) and BMT (Beautiful metallic Touch.)

Beatles BYS 007 SunglassesThe Yellow Submarine sunglasses are made of the highest quality and meant to be worn proudly, not stuck up on a memorabilia shelf collecting dust. Fusing timeless styling with iconic imagery from the revolutionary band’s famous film, these shades transport the wearer right to the heart of 60s era psychedelic pop culture. The images are rendered beautifully on the frame temples using HDA and BMT technologies which yields stunning brightness and clarity.

Shop for Beatles Sunglasses Now: The Beatles Sunglasses at FramesDirect.com

About the Yellow Submarine:

Watch Original Trailer at IMDbThe Yellow Submarine was released in 1968. It is an animated musical fantasy based on the music of The Beatles. The film received mostly positive reviews from audiences and critics alike and is credited with bringing more interest in animation as a serious art form.

The Beatles, themselves, make a live action appearance at the end of the movie as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but the voices for their animated counterparts were actually performed by actors. In the movie, Pepperland, a cheerful music loving place guarded by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, is besieged by the music-hating Blue Meanies, who lock the band away in a music-proof bubble. Pepperland’s mayor sends Old Fred out in a yellow submarine to get help. Old Fred travels to Liverpool where he finds Ringo, John, George, and Paul. He brings them back to Pepperland to free the land from the Blue Meanies.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
We’re eager to hear what some true fans think of the new Beatles Sunglasses. Let us know!

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