Among the most iconic sunglasses silhouettes is the classic aviator shape – teardrop lenses framed in thin metal with double or triple bridge bars. Since their invention in the 1930s for pilots, aviators have become a mainstay fashion accessory. While the original had round wireframes, the contemporary take on aviators includes distinct square aviator sunglasses.
With their bold angular look, square aviators put a modern twist on the timeless pilot frames. In this article, we’ll examine the history and design details that make square aviators a standout choice for fashionable eyewear.
- The Origins of Aviator Sunglasses
- Introducing the Square Aviator Style
- The Stylistic Elements of Square Aviators
- How the Look Stacks Up to Other Shapes
- Matching Outfits for Men and Women
- Top Square Aviator Models
- How to Choose the Best Pair
- The Bottom Line
The Origins of Aviator Sunglasses
Aviator sunglasses first emerged in 1936 when Bausch & Lomb was commissioned by the U.S. Army Air Corps to design aviation eyewear to protect pilots’ eyes from sun glare. The prototype had large teardrop-shaped lenses to optimize coverage, graded brown tint to filter light, and a thin metal wire frame with adjustable nose pads for a snug fit.
Ray-Ban soon released their now-iconic take on the original aviator design starting in 1937, branded as the Aviator model. The styles became widely adopted not just by military pilots but also by the general public in the ensuing decades thanks to their stylish, valiant associations.
Different frame shapes began emerging, but the teardrop lens retained its ties to aviation history. Aviators remain forever linked with pilots, adventurers, and daring explorers taking to the skies in these iconic frames.
Introducing the Square Aviator Style
Most original aviator models featured round or oval wire frame shapes to border the teardrop lenses. But in the 1990s, new interpretations came along that gave aviators a sharper, bolder look. These took the form of square aviator sunglasses.
The exact origins of the first square aviator frames are debatable, but they rose to prominence in the 90s as a contemporary reimagining of the classic aviator. The bold right angles and straight lines of the square shape radically reshaped the softer teardrop lenses into a new geometric form.
Instead of thin wire, square aviators feature thick sturdy acetate or metal frames surrounding lenses cut to fit. They make a striking statement and have a decidedly urban modern aesthetic compared to vintage round aviators. The squared effect highlights the eyes in a graphic way and flatters straight features.
The Stylistic Elements of Square Aviators
Square aviator sunglasses manage to balance a sense of heritage with a contemporary edge. Here are some of the important elements that define this style:
- Thick square-shaped frame fronts in acetate, metal, or combinations
- Arms generally with thin metal temples or acetate earpieces
- Top bar bridge with two or three striped anchor points at the brows
- Oversized teardrop or oval lenses tailored to fit the square shape
- Gradient, mirrored or solid dark-coloured lens tints
- Angular sculptural shape with clean geometric lines
- Unisex styling suits both masculine and feminine looks
While colours and accents may vary, these core specs make square aviators distinct from roundwire versions. The thick frames and squared angles give them an imposing sturdy appearance compared to the slender wire rims of classic styles.
How the Look Stacks Up to Other Shapes
Aviators already have a bold attitude, but square shapes amplify the effect even more. The striking silhouette contrasts with both rounder wire aviators and other common sunglasses shapes:
- Compared to classic aviators, square aviators have a heavier, contemporary look and more urban styling.
- Square aviators are bolder than round sunglasses, with their graphic angles and facial framing.
- They make more of a style statement than simple oval glasses.
- Not as severe and pointy as cat-eye shapes.
- Have more impact than lightweight rectangular frames.
On the eyewear style spectrum, square aviators occupy a space between trendy and timelessly classic. The shape stands out but retains functional connections to aviation heritage.
Matching Outfits for Men and Women
Square aviator sunglasses are popular among both men and women for their edgy androgynous look. Here’s how both genders can rock square aviators with different outfit pairings:
- With casual button-ups, chinos, and loafers
- Leather and denim jackets with white tees and jeans
- Dress shirts and slacks for polished looks
- Tailored suits to add a modern edge
- Athletic wear like hoodies, joggers, tees
- Little black dresses and heels for nighttime chic
- Jean jackets over flowy dresses or flared jeans
- Cropped tops with high-waisted pants or pencil skirts
- Blouses and dress pants for the office
- Bikinis and coverups for beachside glam
Square aviators project confident stylish flair. Just be sure to match the vibe of your outfit so they enhance instead of overpowering your look.
Top Square Aviator Models
Many major eyewear brands now offer variations of the square aviator silhouette. Here are some of the most well-known examples to check out:
Ray-Ban: Their Havana model features durable acetate frames and classic teardrop lenses now with squared lines. Offered in a range of lens/frame colour combos.
Ralph Lauren: Polo Ralph Lauren RL8083 square aviators have a sleek double-bridge metal frame front with striped acetate earpieces. Iconic Ralph Lauren style.
Michael Kors: Jet Set square aviators feature a thick acetate frame and Michael Kors logo details on the temples and lenses. Luxe designer interpretation.
Oakley: The Crossrange XL is a sporty hybrid take with strong acetate frames but round wire temples. Signature Oakley sports performance.
Maui Jim: Kahoma square aviators have stainless steel frames with sturdy double bridge bars. Polarized teardrop lenses optimize glare reduction.
Tom Ford: FT0248 Kincaid square aviators combine a geometric metal front with slim titanium arms. Luxe touches like the signature T logo hinge.
With so many options, you’re sure to find square aviator shades that speak to your personal taste and complement your wardrobe.
How to Choose the Best Pair
To select square aviator sunglasses that enhance your look, keep these buying tips in mind:
- Face shape – Square and oval face shapes best suit the bold lines. Softer shapes like round or heart faces may prefer thinner aviators.
- Size – Overly wide frames can overwhelm narrower faces. Scale the lens width and bridge to flatter your features.
- Colour – Match metal hues like silver, black or gold to your skin tone. Colourful frames make bolder statements.
- Material – Metal has classic appeal but thick acetate frames work well too. Combinations like metal fronts with acetate temples provide the best fit.
- Lenses – Mirrored finishes are trendy but darker grey, green and brown lenses are versatile everyday options.
- Brand – Stick to reputable eyewear brands for quality and durability.
With the perfect square aviators, you’ll make a stylish modern statement while tapping into iconic retro pilot charm. Let these edgy sunnies put a fresh angle on your look!
Are square aviators unisex or just for men?
Square aviators have a unisex aesthetic that looks great on both men and women. Many brands offer sizes suited for different face shapes and genders. The bold style empowers feminine looks while retaining a dash of masculine edge.
When did square aviators become popular?
Though origins are hazy, square aviators rose to prominence as a fashion accessory in the 1990s, likely taking cues from the bold angular designs of the era. They remain popular today as a contemporary remake of classic aviators.
Do square aviators offer sun protection like other styles?
Yes, square aviator lenses are designed to fully shield the eye area from harsh sun exposure. As with standard aviators, look for UV protection specifications on lens labels to ensure proper coverage. Mirrored and darker tints also increase glare protection.
What makes square aviators different from other sunglasses?
The distinct combination of the squared-off frames and teardrop aviation lenses gives square aviators an instantly recognizable look. The thick full frames and straight lines provide an attitude not found in softer round styles.
Can you wear square aviators for sports or activities?
Square aviators make a style statement but also provide practical eye protection for being active outdoors. The sturdy durable frames and glare-control lenses are ideally suited for sports, driving, fishing, or hiking. Just ensure the glasses fit securely.
The Bottom Line
With their bold attitude and time-tested aviation ties, square aviator sunglasses make an instant stylish impression. Their iconic shape continues driving trends today by merging heritage style with a modern edge.