Saturday, January 12, 2013

Spring Sunglasses and Aviator Love

Maybe it's to escape the doldrums of the second act of winter. Maybe it's the anticipation of spring. Maybe it's the unseasonably warm weather Chicago is experiencing (as I type it's 52 degrees; not usual for the 11th of January around here). Whatever the impetus, I'm starting to think about warmer temperatures, and how that might affect my wardrobe. 

While I love my Ray-Ban Wayfarers (see my top ten list of 2012), sometimes the idea of thick acrylic gripping the sides of my head just makes me sweat. So for this upcoming spring and summer, I plan on slipping on some metal framed sunglasses to help shield my eyes from the bright sun, or a painful hangover. Don't judge.

I've always been drawn to aviator styles; a quick peruse of my blog will illuminate any number of reasons for this. But the most straightforward answer is this - they are timelessly cool. This season, I'm drawn to the more modern, post-Korean War shape modern pilots still wear. Don't let Top Gun fool you into thinking those big teardrop lensed glasses are still standard issue. The style I'm referring to is called, officially, the "Flight Goggle 58" - and three brands make them: American Optical, Randolph Engineering and Ray-Ban, although they all have differing names for the sunglasses.

American Optical - Original Pilot

Randolph Engineering - Aviator

Ray-Ban Caravan

True, there are a few cosmetic differences. Namely, the bridge on the Ray-Ban's is smaller than on either the American Optical (AO) or Randolph Engineering (RE) versions. Setting that aside, the other difference is this - both AO and RE were actually manufactured for the U.S. Military. And both are made in the U.S.A. Currently, Randolph Engineering has the contract from the government. But AO was the original contract winner in the 1950's. And Neil Armstrong wore his AE's on the moon. THE MOON. Also, American Optical sunglasses are cheaper by a country mile. Okay, that's imprecise. They are half the price of RE's, or Ray-Bans.

Which is why this summer I'll be wearing American Optical Original Pilots. USA made, OG credentials, and they were worn on the moon.

The eagle has landed.

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