Seen Styles: All About the Aviator

Seen Styles: All About the Aviator

The Aviator style is not one that probably needs an introduction, but we'll give you one anyway.

Just the word alone conjures up visions of oversized mirrored lenses gazing out from under a pilot's hat, reflecting some exotic palm tree lined location. But the iconic frames are not just reserved for the jet setters amongst us.


Seen gracing the faces of everyone from Tom Cruise to Elvis Presley, Aviators were originally created especially for pilots to protect their eyes when flying, hence the name ‘aviator’. Often favoured by the military, the large lensed designs are intended to cover 2-3 times the area of the eye to prevent as much light from getting in as possible, from any angle.

One of the most instantly recognisable frames in the world, this ever-popular eyewear style characteristically has a dark or mirrored lens with a ‘bullet-hole’ gap between the top of the frame and the bridge of the nose.

“real scientific glare protection”

The aviator style was born when test pilot John MacReady approached eye health company Bausch & Lomb to manufacture something that would seal his eyes from the cold, and be dark enough to protect from the strong sunlight whilst flying at high altitudes. Bausch & Lomb complied, but initially advertised the style as providing “real scientific glare protection” for fishermen and golfers. The legendary sunglasses were actually first advertised solely as sporting equipment but benefitted from post-World War II popularity in the 1950s when they took on the name ‘aviator’ after being favoured by military personnel.

General Douglas McArthur

One such wearer who was particularly synonymous with the style was the renowned American army general, Douglas MacArthur. Along with his oversized pipe, General MacArthur was often seen sporting his beloved aviator frames.

The aviator has enjoyed many resurgences over the years but the shape and style has stayed consistent, meaning they look as stylish/cool today as they did back at their creation in the ’30s.