The Complete Guide to Aviator Frames

17th January 2024

In the grand tapestry of fashion, certain styles outlive mere trends and become symbols of enduring elegance and sophistication. One such style that has stood the test of time and soared to unparalleled heights of popularity is the aviator frame. Originating from the world of aviation, these distinctive sunglasses have evolved from a pragmatic accessory for pilots into a timeless fashion statement embraced by everyone across the globe.

A Brief History of Aviator Frames

Following World War I, daring test pilots began to fly ever higher and faster in the early 1900s. With altitude and speed records being broken, new problems arose. The intense glare of the sun at high altitudes caused pilots to experience headaches and nausea.

Aviator frames gained prominence during World War II when they were first introduced by Bausch & Lomb, an American company now known as Ray-Ban. Originally designed for military pilots, these sunglasses featured large, teardrop-shaped lenses to provide maximum coverage and minimise exposure to sunlight.

In 1936, Ray-Ban released the iconic Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses to the public, capitalising on the style’s association with military aviators. The popularity of aviator frames soared, transcending their initial practical purpose to become a symbol of cool, confident style. What started as a practical solution for aviators quickly transcended its utilitarian origins.

Timeless Appeal and Modern Evolution

The post-war era saw aviator frames becoming a fashion statement. Hollywood played a pivotal role thanks to film legends like Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Audrey Hepburn showing off the aviator style. The aviator frame became a symbol of rebellion, effortlessly blending functionality with a distinctive aesthetic that captivated generations.

Despite evolving fashion trends, aviator frames have maintained their timeless appeal. Their enduring style has changed throughout the decades to adapt to contemporary tastes. From the classic teardrop shape to innovative material and lens technologies, aviator frames remain not just an accessory but a timeless expression of style.

Anatomy of Aviator Frames

Frame Materials

Metal Frames: The original aviator frames crafted by Bausch & Lomb for military pilots were predominantly made of metal, emphasising durability and strength. Contemporary metal aviator frames often utilise lightweight materials, such as titanium or aluminium, maintaining strength while reducing overall weight for enhanced comfort.

Plastic Frames: While metal frames have an acclaimed history, plastic aviator frames have gained popularity for their versatility in design and colour options. Additionally, plastic frames provide a lighter feel on the face and can incorporate various textures and patterns, appealing to those seeking a more fashion-forward look.

Combination Frames: Some aviator frames seamlessly blend metal and plastic elements, offering a design that combines the robustness of metal with the stylistic diversity of plastic. Combination frames often feature contrasting materials for the front and arms, allowing for unique and eye-catching combinations.

Frame Components

The structural anatomy of aviator frames comprises several essential components contributing to both functionality and aesthetic appeal. The bridge connects the two lenses and rests on the nose, providing essential support for the frames. Aviator frames may feature a single bridge for a sleek look or a double bridge, adding an extra element to the design. Arms, extending from the frame to secure the glasses on the wearer’s ears, play a crucial role in the overall design. They vary in thickness and often feature decorative elements, such as logo engravings or coloured accents, contributing to the glasses’ aesthetic.

Hinges, connecting the temples to the frame, allow for the folding of aviator frames and can incorporate innovations like spring hinges for added flexibility and durability. Nose pads, often made of adjustable silicone or soft gel, provide comfort and help customise the fit of the glasses.

Choosing the Right Aviator Frames

Choosing the perfect pair of aviator frames involves thoughtful consideration of various factors to ensure not only a stylish accessory but also a comfortable and functional one.

These are the Pegasus frames in black and silver.

Face Shape Considerations

One of the key factors in selecting aviator frames is matching them to your face shape. Aviator frames, with their distinctive teardrop shape, complement a range of face shapes but may accentuate certain features more than others. Here's a quick guide:

Round Face: Opt for aviator frames with angular shapes to add definition and structure. Frames with a slightly wider top can also look great as they elongate the face.

Oval Face: Lucky for oval faces, most aviator styles work well. Best you experiment with different frame sizes and proportions for a personalised look.

Square Face: Choose aviator frames with softer lines to balance the strong features. Frames with rounded edges can soften the angularity of a square face.

Heart-Shaped Face: Aviator frames with a wider bottom can complement a narrower chin. Avoid overly large frames that might overwhelm delicate features.

Skin Tone and Colour

Warm Skin Tones: Earthy tones like gold, brown, or amber can complement warm undertones. Tortoiseshell patterns or frames with warm hues are also great choices.

Cool Skin Tones: Silver, gunmetal, or black frames can complement cool undertones. Additionally, clear frames or frames with cool-toned accents work well.

Prescription and Non-Prescription Options

If you require prescription lenses, ensure that the aviator frames you choose can accommodate them seamlessly. Many brands offer prescription options, and some aviator glasses can be customised with prescription lenses for optimal vision without sacrificing style. Additionally, non-prescription wearers can explore a variety of lens options, including tinted, polarised, mirrored, or gradient lenses to suit different preferences and activities.

These are the Capricornus frames in burgundy and gold.

Maintenance and Care

Aviator frames, while adding a touch of style to your look, require proper maintenance to ensure they remain in optimal condition over time. Follow these essential tips to keep your aviator frames looking sharp and functioning well.

Cleaning Tips

Regular cleaning is crucial to maintaining the clarity of your aviator lenses. Use a microfibre cloth to gently wipe away dust and smudges, avoiding materials like paper towels that may scratch the lenses or frames. For a deeper clean, use a mild lens-cleaning solution or a mixture of water with a small amount of gentle soap, applying it with a microfiber cloth. Pay special attention to the nose pads, cleaning them with a soft cloth or a cotton swab dipped in a cleaning solution.

Storage Recommendations

When your aviator frames are not in use, store them in a protective case. This protects them from scratches, dust, and potential damage. Additionally, avoid leaving your frames in extreme temperatures, as heat can warp the frame and cold may affect certain materials.

Repairing and Adjusting Aviator Frames

If your aviator frames feel loose or uncomfortable, seek professional assistance for adjustments to ensure a proper fit. Check for loose screws in the frame hinges and tighten them gently using a small screwdriver to prevent further damage. While minor adjustments can be made at home, major repairs should be handled by eyewear professionals to avoid unintended consequences.


From their humble origins in military aviation to gracing the faces of Hollywood legends and contemporary fashion influencers, aviator glasses have outlived mere trends and will forever leave a mark on the world of eyewear. Whether you’re drawn to the classic designs that have stood the test of time or the innovative twists with a pop of colour, aviator frames continue to soar in popularity. When choosing your perfect pair of aviators, remember that these iconic glasses elevate your style to new heights for years to come.

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