Aviator sunglasses have been around for decades. They’re one of the most popular and classic sunglass styles around. They’ve stood the test of time, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be going anywhere anytime soon. Having the right pair of aviators for your face and your style can mean the difference between showing up looking like Joe Schmoe or looking put together, crisp, and cool.
You might think that aviators are all the same, but there are actually three basic frame shapes to this classic style. Each one has a slightly different look and feel, and each one is perfect in its own way. All three can work on almost any face shape, but they each have a slightly different style that will work better for different fashion personality types.
Let’s take a stroll through each of these aviator variations, and you can decide if one is better for you than the others or if you need to pick up one of each and swap out your aviators for any occasion.
This is the frame shape that most people immediately think of when they think, “aviator”. These are the sunglasses Tom Cruise wore in “Top Gun”. They’re the ones with the largest frames and the most sun coverage. They’re the preferred shades for pilots, businessmen and women, the Secret Service, and anyone who means business and makes it look easy.
Teardrop aviators look great on men and women alike, and you can wear them with a business suit or casual wear. They look equally at home with a three-piece suit as they do with a t-shirt, jeans, and a bomber jacket.
The Sporty Aviator
This shape is a little bit wider, and the frames don’t dip down as far as the classic teardrop does. They’re usually made with the same classic metal frame, though you can find them with plastic frames, as well. The sporty aviator gives people who lead active lifestyles a more stylish alternative for their sunglasses.
Related: 5 Ways to Rock Aviator Sunglasses (and Look Like a Real Top Gun)
If you want to go for a run, play a game of pickup basketball, or head out for a bike ride, but you don’t want to put on a pair of wrap-around sport glasses, a pair of these slightly sportier aviators will do the job perfectly. Then, once you’ve hit the shower, you can still wear them with your street clothes without feeling like you’re wearing a pair of sport goggles. For active people, sporty aviators are a fashion and function must.
The navigator usually has a slightly smaller frame and more squared-off look than either the teardrop or the sporty version of the aviator. If you have a longer face, you may have avoided the teardrop because it tends to make your face look even more elongated. Some people also avoid aviators because they feel like these sunglasses take over their faces and look too large. If that’s you, try a pair of navigators. They’re a little more subtle, but they have a very similar “all business” appeal to the classics.
More: The Best Aviators