Know Your Sunglasses: Aviator, P3, Wayfarer, and More
Sunglasses. Shades. Sunnies. Glares. Sun Spectacles. Solar Shields. Otherwise acknowledged as a stylish yet very practical piece of protective eyewear. Keeping the Sun’s beaming glare at a distance so as to not forever damage our eyes, Sun Cheaters (I can keep going with the slang names…) have quite the history within the sphere of style. Just like any item of clothing, they’ve developed over the years and undergone numerous changes. You’ll more than likely know some style of Stunna Shades (I’ll stop now) like the Aviator or the Wayfarer, but we’re going to dive into the subject and cover the classics.
There’s a whole host of advice around what frames or styles suit the shape of your face, but we’ll keep things simple and stick to covering the styles themselves. Similarly, what choice of lens is also a subject worthy of a more dedicated discussion. But if you need to know your Club Master from your Wrap Around, read on.
If there was ever a classic pair of sunglasses, it’s more than likely going to be the humble aviator. Arguably nothing is quite as cool as feeling like you’re flying with Maverick in Top Gun and with a pair of aviators you’ll have enough visibility to see out of the cockpit. Originally designed in 1937 for US airmen, they have distinct oversized teardrop shape lenses, a double bridge and thin metal frame, making it a timeless classic. Arguably the first sunglasses to become popularized, it’s hard to go wrong with an aviator and their effortless cool.
Another popular shape which has made a strong comeback in recent years is the Wayfarer. Originally designed in the 1950s, this is another classic pair of shades which you can pair with most ‘fits. Driven to popularity by Ray-Ban, the Wayfarer features a thick solid frame in a trapezoidal shape. Oozing classic chic and evoking images of 50’s Hollywood, a simple black frame is the go-to choice when the Wayfarer is concerned. Or mix it up with some tortoiseshell for a more noticeable flex.
Pure retro styling and movie star swag. An upswept statement shade. Cat Eye shades are undoubtedly old skool with some parallels to the Wayfarer in that they utilize a similar frame but with a more dramatic elevation. Originally designed to improve the fit and visual quality for the wearer, this style became all the more iconic when actresses like Marilyn Monroe began to wear them. Typically associated with a feminine sophistication, there’s also options for men which add a distinctly vintage charm.
A derivative of the Wayfarer, the Clubmaster is its sophisticated cousin. With a similar frame shape, the Clubmaster lacks the lower portion of the frame leaving the bottom half of the lens exposed. Also known as a ‘browline’, the Clubmaster is another iconic sunglass shape with its origins and rise in popularity during the 1950s-60s. A favorite of human rights activist Malcolm X, this is another retro option with a side of high style.
Visually the P3 appears as a marriage of the Wayfarer frame and round lens style. It’s anther unisex style that was originally developed by the military for nearsighted soldiers to wear under their gas masks. The ‘P’ actually stands for ‘pantoscopic tilt’ which is the tilt of the lens toward your cheeks. With everyone from James Dean to Morpheus killing it in the p3, it’s another solid choice for timeless style.
A statement shape that has become synonymous with the ’60s, the seemingly simple round frame shape conjures up images of John Lennon and Woodstock. Somewhat quirky, this style keeps it basic with a thin wire frame but you can add your own flare through some colored lenses. Contemporary interpretations have also played with the frame shape and added brow line accents, meaning the round style is versatile but reliable.
If you’re feeling futuristic, the shield might be the choice for you. Maximizing sun protection and adding some serious stand-out style, shields are a bold statement. Ideal if you’re planning on catching rays for days, they come in a variety of accents from colored lenses to minimalistic frames. Keep things simple and opt for black if you want to max out protection but keep a low-key flex.
Keeping things in forward gear, Wraparound style sun-beaters are the ultimate in futuristic fashion for your eyes. If Daft Punk holidayed in the Bahamas, this is what they’d be wearing. Another set of shades which offer ultimate protection, Wraparound frames do what they say. With the lens wrapping around the side of the face and keeping the sun’s glare out of the corners of your eyes, they’re a practical set of shades for active lifestyles.
Similarly to Round shades, the Rectangle is self-explanatory. Utilizing a text-book rectangular shape, they’re straightforward and simple. If the frame is wider than it is tall, it’s probably a rectangle. More angular than a Wayfarer, but not a million miles away. Often seen with a thick, full frame or thinner, wire frame, the style was made popular in the ’60s with the Ray Ban Olympian. Forever famous thanks to Peter Fonda and Easy Rider, it’s hard to go wrong with this versatile style.
Last but not least and certainly not under the radar, is the bold and oversized Butterfly. Kinda like a Wayfarer going through metamorphosis, the Butterfly style leaves an impact. With a glamorous high fashion association, these aren’t the shades to wear with your favorite chore coat. But nevertheless stylish, this playful number gives a noticeable impression.