Why These Are Still Our Go-to Sunglasses After All These Years

square frame aviator american optics

The Square-frame Aviator: Why They're Still Our Go-to Sunglasses After All These Years

Ah, how the time flies. It’s been 6 years since the first time we wrote about the square frame aviator. Five since we showed you how Don Draper wore them in season 3. Unlike so many things in style (Wide leg! NO! Straight leg! NO! Tapered leg!) the square frame aviator has remained our go-to sunglass shape of choice. It doesn’t matter if you have a football head or a basketball head, the simple, classic look of a square frame will complement any face.

And just as we’re sticking to our guns on the shape, we’re still 100% confident on the brand. Introduced in 1956 as Flight Goggle 58, American Optics developed their “Original Pilot” sunglass for maximum protection and performance for American military pilots. Eleven years later Commander Neil Armstrong donned them on the lunar surface, which are now in the Smithsonian. Plenty of imitators have popped up, many for a ton more cash.

Since AO started manufacturing these for the military there are a few options to choose from. They’re available in 3 sizes: 52mm, 55mm, and 57mm. For most heads, I’d recommend the 55mm, the 52 is more of a women’s sized frame, and the 57, while only slightly larger than the 55, is better only if you’ve got a giant dome. Lens options include True Color, a distortion-free optical glass and hardened for scratch resistance; Color Correct, a polycarbonate cast injection resin forming the highest optical quality lens available; and both are offered in polarized versions. There are three temple shapes available, bayonet, shown here, wire spatula, the typical eyewear temple, and cable, the hooked wire that wraps around your ear.

The best part? The Made in the USA American Optics Original Pilot rings up at only $55 on Amazon.

But hey, if you don’t listen to us this time, we’ll be back in another 6 years telling you the same thing.

Pick up a pair on Amazon.

Sunglasses: always sometimes never
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Andrew Snavely

Andrew founded Primer in 2008 and brings 15+ years of men's style expertise. Known for his practical, relatable approach to style and self-development, he has been a recognized speaker at conferences and has styled work for top brands. Off-duty, he loves photography & editing, and enjoys road trips with his dog, Leela. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, educated in DC, and living in LA for nearly 20 years, Andrew's diverse experiences shape the relatable and real-world advice that has helped millions through Primer. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.