Aviator sunglasses have been iconic just about as long as they have been around. They were developed by Ray-Ban as pilot sunglasses for World War II. And when the troops stormed the Philippines, some photographers took photos of General Douglas MacArthur smoking his corncob pipe and wearing those glasses. You have probably even seen many of these photographs because a few of them became famous. From there, aviator sunglasses started to take off. Since those fateful moments in the Philippines in the 1940’s, Americans have been wearing aviator sunglasses. They are such a classic look that they have come in and gone out of style numerous times. (I should note that while they never quite go completely out of style, they sure do come roaring back from time to time.)
I have always enjoyed wearing aviator sunglasses. Maybe it is because they have large lenses and are great at blocking out light. Maybe it is because they tend do go with any outfit. They work with a bathing suit and flip-flops as well as a coat and tie. They are truly versatile. Perhaps I wear them because I like to look like General MacArthur, but I think the main reason is because the look has been emblazoned in my mind from classic films. Because of this, I am going to count down the five best movie characters to famously rock aviator sunglasses.
Number 5 – Al Pacino in Scarface as Tony Montana
Everyone over the age of eighteen has seen Scarface. This age used to be lower, but these days I have no idea what the kids are up to. They listen to Justin Bieber and tweet constantly, and their minds are riddled smoking bath salts. A terrible generation notwithstanding, most men have seen Al Pacino as Scarface. It is a beautiful American story of an immigrant pulling himself up by the bootstraps and turning his poverty into millions. Sure, he does this through the illegal drug trade, and he bribes politicians while murdering tons of people, but let’s not focus on that part. Let’s focus on how Tony rocks aviator sunglasses a few times during the movie, typically when they are near the beach. You see, Tony is smart. He knows the water reflects a lot of sunlight, and so he wants the optimal protection offered by the large lenses. Had Tony decided to wear them more, he would be higher on the list, but he didn’t, so he sits at number 5.
Number 4 – Ryan Gosling in Drive as the Driver
Seriously, he is credited as “Driver.” If you have ever seen the movie, you know that he says approximately twenty words throughout the whole film. He just sits there being dark and brooding, so I really shouldn’t be surprised that they never bothered to give him a real name. Anyway, as he does a few of his driving scenes in the shades, including the awesome stunt double scene, he rocks some aviator sunglasses like nobody’s business. Maybe it is because he can look good in anything, or perhaps the cool and casual feel of the aviators really help set the mood of his character. Either way, he looks exactly how I feel when wearing them, which earns him number 4 on my list.
Number 3 – Daniel Craig in Skyfall as James Bond
Daniel Craig’s performance in Skyfall is the most recent addition to the list. First of all, pretty much everyone in the world who watches movies saw Skyfall. It was unbelievable, and he was fantastic in it. He made James Bond gritty and dangerous again while still maintaining his elegant charm, not an easy task. He also rocked a specialized version of Tom Ford aviator sunglasses almost the entire movie. He got his own model of aviators, and they sold like hotcakes, thus re-popularizing them once again. For this reason, he comes in at number 3 on my list.
Number 2 – Sylvester Stallone in Cobra as Lieutenant Marion “Cobra” Cobretti
I am just going to take a wild guess in that many fewer of you have seen Cobra then Skyfall. Luckily, you are in for a treat. It is one of Stallone’s classic American badass roles. Like most awesome cop movies, he plays a tough-on-crime street cop who must protect the only witness to some crazy murder. The tagline for the movie is “Crime is a disease. Meet the cure.” As you can tell, the movie is a jewel. And what makes the film so classic is the cover poster. Picture Stallone wearing all black, holding up some kind of semi-automatic machine gun in one hand with a pistol tucked into his waistline, cigarette in the mouth, and what do you know, a beautiful pair of aviator sunglasses staring right into your soul. Because of this classic placement in the poster, Mr. Cobretti comes in at number 2.
Number 1 – Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun
As most of you were probably assuming since you saw the title of the article, you simply cannot mention aviator sunglasses in films without mentioning Top Gun. First of all, the movie was a smash hit for the ages. At a time when the Cold War was still very much going on, Hollywood made an amazingly patriotic film about a young and talented fighter pilot making his way up the ranks while battling the ghost of his pilot father. Americans were the good guys. The Ruskies were the bad guys, and they defined the term “volleyball scene” for cinematic ages to come.
Aviator sunglasses sales went through the roof when this movie came out because every guy in the world wanted to be Maverick. The film was about pilots, so they all wore the glasses. Tom Cruise won the hearts of cinema viewers worldwide (save the Eastern Block for a while) and earned himself a place in history as the number 1 most iconic wearing of aviator sunglasses.
As you can see, aviator sunglasses have earned themselves a permanent place in American culture. They will probably die down in popularity a few more times only to be rocketed to the forefront of fashion all over again. They are good-looking and practical, and if you buy them from Pugs, they will certainly also be affordable.
hoto Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lovemaegan/4957572875/