Aviator Sunglasses in the Movies
Fashion mavens. Sportsmen. Pilots. Somehow, all wearing one and the same iconic eyewear on the silver screen. Where did the classic aviator sunglasses originate?
Their story began to make their mark during one of the most tumultuous times in the 20th century: WWII. At the time, standard-issue flight goggles tended to fog up and were not dark enough for pilots flying in the upper atmosphere. In an effort to provide the ultimate in eye protection for pilots, “the aviator” was born. Eyewear hasn’t been the same since.
What led to their soaring popularity during WWII? It had to do with function as much as form.
The renowned teardrop lens dipped low enough for pilots to clearly see their control panels, while still high enough to protect from the sun above. Green tinted lenses reduced glare from piercing blue and white light while soaring on top of the clouds. To combine strength with style, a secondary bridge was added to give the frame stability, rigidity, and durability.
Even though the war ended, aviator’s demand continued to climb. Soon becoming the embodiment of post-war confidence, they were a paramount accessory among celebrities and movie stars alike. From their creation forward, they possessed a fashion moment throughout every decade. They delivered the finishing touch to the 3-piece suits of the 60’s, bell-bottoms of the 70’s, and acid-washed jeans of the 80’s.
Aviators’ enduring appeal kept climbing beyond the golden age of flying, thanks in part to their role in movie history.
Despite enjoying their start from all-male fighter pilots, aviators are not just a look of high-powered masculinity. By the 1970’s, starlets began donning the frame with pink or brown-tinted lenses for a soft feminine feel. Their distinct aesthetic was undeniably unique. And yet, they seem to fit every face shape, every gender, and look great in any setting.
On account of their noble heritage, they are today a hallmark of classic sunwear from the streets to the skies. They were worn at unforgettable pop culture moments, from Michael Jackson at the 1984 Grammys, to actors Julia Roberts and Paul Newman. Their roots run deep in film and music history.
Let's take a look at a few of their appearances in film.
Tom Cruise in Top Gun
Aviator sales skyrocketed after the 1986 release of Top Gun. Lieutenant Maverick’s jumpsuit and aviators were a match made in heaven. The classic teardrop frame complimented by dark green lenses became movie heritage and secured a place in high speed, high-octane fashion.
Since they flatter all face shapes, aviators are the epitome of versatile style. They pair perfectly with jeans and a t-shirt for an everyday look, or donned with a suit and tie for an elegant formal event.
Angelina Jolie in Mr. & Mrs. Smith
A Killer Leading-Lady
Unapologetic. Fierce. Female. Mrs. Smith, played by Angelina Jolie, portrayed a conventional wife-next-door living in suburbia and married to her husband (Brad Pitt). Yet, the couple had no idea they were both assassins until they were each assigned to knock off the other.
Angelina embraces female empowerment with a traditional style aviator. She is seen wearing effortlessly-cool aviators with brown gradient lenses. The fitted frame secured the shape’s popularity and quintessential feminine status. They embody the statement that smart, sexy, and powerful women have every ounce the grit of a man.
Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future
1985’s Back to the Future was packed with 80’s abundances: explosions, time travel, skateboard chases, comedic satire, and upturned collars.
Marty McFly embraced the 80’s with his two-tone denim jacket and slim, high-waisted jeans. Yet the accessory that completed his look were the oversized, matte-black aviators, complete with mirrored lenses, and acetate crossbar.
Thanks to iconic style and timeless movie magic, Back to the Future is just as much of a classic today as it was over 35 years ago.
Daniel Craig in Skyfall
Sophisticated Secret Agent
Daniel Craig dynamically combines 007’s sophistication and danger in the 2012 film Skyfall. The action-packed film reveals a more vulnerable side of the ever-regal James Bond.
The secret agent’s custom-tailored suits and clean, silver aviators contribute to his confidence and poise. The film is an example for the world to “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
The original shape that pioneered a revolution. The classic teardrop is characterized by its wide top and dipped bottom. Built for utility, they have curved lenses, a prominent double bar, and nose pads.
The navigator allows one to take in the world thanks to wide, angular lenses which offer full coverage. The navigator offers the same signature aesthetic while utilizing modern motifs and custom bridges for a balanced fit.
Square to rectangular, the navigator’s lenses are flat on the bottom, unlike the curve of the Teardrop.
Redesigned in the 1950’s to be worn under helmets and visors, some designs are offered with wrapped lenses to provide more protection for adventures on land or sea.
The original aviator was introduced in full metal with gold or silver finish. SALT.’s aerospace grade titanium provides incredible durability and half the weight of other metals for all-day comfort.
A full acetate frame offers a spin on the classic. Constructed around the contour of the original but with a bolder silhouette, our Japanese acetate is created from cotton seeds and wood pulp. This combination allows it to be both hypoallergenic and sustainably-crafted.
Enjoy the best of both worlds when metal and acetate are combined. A classic look with the best in-class materials.
Aviators are not just for ACE fighter pilots. Not just for celebrity cinema. And not just for men. They have a quintessential place in American culture.
SALT.’s detailed aviator’s are designed for everyday life — whether flying at 30,000 feet or lounging by the sea.
Since launching in 2006, SALT. has honored the aviator's time-honored heritage by producing them with the best-in-class materials and lens technology.
- Aerospace grade titanium and Japanese acetate frames ensure durability for a comfortable fit and stability
- Proprietary lenses made of optical grade glass and CR-39
- Polarized & tinted lenses for a heightened look and crisp, clear vision
- Backside anti-reflective coating engineered to prevent “bounce-back” of glare from entering the eye
- Mirrored lenses that complete the iconic aviator look while reducing glare and increasing intensity
Our retailers around the world are experts at finding the perfect frame shape, size, and color. From the classic teardrop, to the modernized navigator. Find a local SALT. retailer near you.
Discover SALT.’s selection of aviators.