The Best Aviator Sunglasses For Throwback Summer Style

Cap off your warm-weather look with some nostalgia-fueled eyewear.
Aviator sunglasses from Ray-Ban, Krewe, ASOS, Isabel Marant and Target.
Aviator sunglasses from Ray-Ban, Krewe, ASOS, Isabel Marant and Target.

With Top Gun: Maverick” in theaters and Kate Bush’s synthy ’80s anthem “Running Up That Hill” suddenly topping the charts again, you might be experiencing a hankering for some good old-fashioned accessories to match the throwbook mood this summer — in particular, a pair of eternally cool aviator sunglasses. While this classic eyewear silhouette has strong associations with style icons of the late ’70s and ’80s, it actually originated several decades earlier in the 1930s.

Like many other fashion staples that we now consider “timeless,” the sunnies were invented out of necessity and originally part of a uniform. According to the New York Times, an air force lieutenant collaborated with with lens company Bausch & Lomb to create angled, polarized goggles specifically for high-flying pilots, to protect their eyes from the intense glare and freezing temperatures at ultra-high altitudes. The resulting “Ray-Ban” aviator goggles were released in 1936, and were marketed to the public soon after.

Several decades and countless turns on the silver screen later, aviators have cemented themselves in the fashion canon as a nostalgic (yet perennially cool) accessory suitable for stylish shade-wearers of any gender. Shop our favorite aviator sunglasses for summer, from an Amazon option clocking in at a whopping $8 to a luxury leather-clad pair straight out of a James Bond film.

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The originals
Ray-Ban’s RB3025 style harkens back to the company's original 1936 design. The delicate metal frames pose a chic contrast to the oversized polarized lenses — and, while we’re not big on logos, we have to admit that nostalgic "Ray-Ban” stamp on the left lens is kind of charming.
A squared-off tortoiseshell iteration
Leave it to trend-forward fast-fashion retailer ASOS to deliver a light-lensed disco-inspired take on the classic aviator, rendered in a lightweight plastic.
A no-frills version of the original silhouette
Warby Parker’s “Raider” silhouette stays true to the Ray-Ban originals with seven different color combinations. Even better, the style can be easily customized with your optical prescription and shopped from the comfort of your couch, thanks to the brand’s seamless at-home try-on experience.
A slimmed-down take on the vintage version
Krewe’s titanium “Earhart” frames come equipped with tortoiseshell “blinkers” in a nod to the face-hugging accent on old-school aviator lenses. (They’re also available without the mottled acetate detail, for anyone who wants an even more pared-down frame.)
A designer option with an ombré finish
Leave it to boho French designer Isabel Marant to take the functional aviator frame for a color-soaked spin, with a thick acetate-framed pair of aviators that pair Jolly Rancher hues with the traditional smoky lenses.
An ultra-affordable option from Amazon
Amazon reviewers are very pleased with these $8 metal-and-polycarbonate sunglasses, which measure up to a similar style at a fraction of the price. “I purchased them for instances where I don't want to loose/damage my Ray-Bans and I am thrilled with them,” wrote elynch21.
An oversized pair that offers a rosy outlook
You can’t go wrong with an under-$10 pair of aviators frames that bring a beachier vibe to the sturdy eyewear silhouette. The scratch-resistant lenses offer 100% UVA-UVB protection.
A thick tortoiseshell pair with a rounded shape
Up-and-coming eyewear brand Coco and Breezy offer a soft, exaggerated spin on the angular shape with these acetate tortoiseshell frames.
A celeb-endorsed mid-priced option
You’ve probably heard of Australian eyewear imprint Quay thanks to its seemingly-constant stream of celebrity collaborations — everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Kim Kardashian to Lizzo has put their stamp on the affordable label. Quay’s classic aviators aren’t part of a star-struck collection, but they are a bonafide best-seller, with a 4.6-star rating and over 17,000 reviews.
Target’s extremely affordable take
If the previous option is out of your price range, take Target’s $12 black metal aviators for a spin. With 4.6 stars and 61 reviews, they’re an equally customer-approved option.
A faithful vintage version
If you have a little extra cash on hand and want to invest in pair traffic-stopping shades that feel straight out of a vintage James Bond movie, look no further than these leather-clad acetate-and-steel frames from a heritage French eyewear brand.

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