In 1936, the U.S. Armed Forces teamed up with Bausch and Lomb to produce eyewear that countered light to help fighter pilots deal with eye strain at higher altitudes. The result is one you’re likely familiar with: Aviator sunglasses that featured convex tear-drop glass lenses and thin metal frames. Originally called ‘Anti-Glares,’ the frames were rebranded ‘Ray-Ban’ upon release to the public.
Ray-Ban’s sunglasses have graced some of the most famous faces of the past 100 years, from mirrored aviators on General Douglas Macarthur (incidentally, the first mirrored sunglasses ever put into production) to black Wayfarers on the Blues Brothers. Chances are, you’re a fan of one of the brand’s three classic styles: the Wayfarer, the Aviator and the Round sunglasses.
These are iconic for good reason, but if you’re looking to upgrade your standard shades to something new, there are a number of solid choices. Here are a few of our favorites.
Krewe x Billy Reid Howell Sunglasses
If you wear Wayfarer sunglasses: This fall, Alabama-based designer teamed up with New Orleans-based eyewear brand Krewe for a fresh take some classic styles. The Howell sunglasses feature a sculpted acetate frame, amber gradient lenses and 24K gold hardware. They’re refinded, effortlessly stylish and relatively affordable — hard to argue with that.
Garrett Leight California Optical Marr Sunglasses
If you wear Aviator sunglasses: These square aviators from Los Angeles eyewear brand GLCO have a number of subtle design enhancements. The gold-toned stainless steel frame has tortoise lens rims and temple tips. The subtle brow bar is accented by the gold hinges, and the semi-flat Brown Smoke lenses have an anti-reflective coating.
Barton Perreira x Robert Geller Harald Sunglasses
If you wear Round sunglasses: Handmade in Japan, these titanium frames are an ornate collaboration between one of the best brands in the business — Barton Perreira — and legendary menswear designer Robert Geller. The vintage-inspired style features subtle filigree detailing on the bridge and temples (the textured temples are joined seamlessly with the acetate temple tips). For the most classic style, pick the Bottle Green CR-39 lenses with an anti-reflective coating — if you want something more edgy, opt for the gradient Cherry Moon Mirror lenses.
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