The best aviator sunglasses

These shades are elite — the best of the best.

Best Overall

Ray-Ban RB3025 Aviator Sunglasses

Ray-Ban RB3025 Aviator Sunglasses

Best for Women

Jessica Simpson J5702 Aviator Sunglasses

Jessica Simpson J5702 Aviator Sunglasses

Best Square

Ray-Ban RB3636 New Caravan Sunglasses

Ray-Ban RB3636 Caravan Sunglasses

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Maybe you aspire to the timeless flyboy style Tom Cruise made famous with his Top Gun aviators, or maybe you just need to replace the most recent bargain-basement shades to fall apart on your face. The timeless pilot sunglasses are a good look no matter what you’re wearing, and we found more than one way to make them your own.

Sure, you can always keep it traditional with gold frames and green lenses like our favorite pilot — sorry — Naval aviator. But there’s nothing that says you can’t make General MacArthur’s shades a little more feminine or black them out for a look that’s half tactical and half punk-rock. Take a look at some of the best aviators around, learn about polarized lenses, and upgrade your style while there’s still some summer left.

Best Overall

Ray-Ban RB3025 Aviator Sunglasses

Best for Women

Jessica Simpson J5702 Aviator Sunglasses

Best Square

Ray-Ban RB3636 New Caravan Sunglasses

Best Budget

Michael Kors MK5004 Aviator Sunglasses

Things to consider before buying aviator sunglasses

Your buying decision is probably going to come down to price. Aside from that, there are some considerations you might want to be mindful of even if you can afford any designer aviator sunglasses you want.


It’s hard to get much information about sunglasses frames from an online product page. A premium frame and one that can barely support its own weight will look basically the same in pictures. Don’t expect the kind of information you’d get from a knife maker that lists detailed information about specific kinds of steel. As a result, you’ll have to go by manufacturer reputation to some extent. Brands like Ray-Ban can be trusted to build quality products that won’t rattle apart.


Lenses, on the other hand, do have some objective qualifications that can be useful. The primary one is whether or not a given lens is polarized. Polarized lenses use a chemical treatment to filter incoming light before it reaches your eye. The result is a glare-free view that vastly improves vision — especially when you look at vegetation, snow, glass, and bodies of water. There are times, however, when polarized lenses are a liability. If you need to read an LCD display or spot ice on the road, for example, glare reduction isn’t a good thing. 

FAQs about aviator sunglasses

Q: How much do aviator sunglasses cost?

A: You can find knock-offs online or at your local gas station for a few bucks, but they’ll fall apart almost immediately. The aviator shades on this gear guide cost between $40 and $250 (at full MSRP).

Q: Do women wear aviators?

A: Yes, and they should because everyone deserves to look this cool.

Q: What face shape looks good with aviator sunglasses?

A: According to the people at Esquire (who are far more style-conscious than I am), traditional, teardrop aviators look best on diamond- and heart-shaped faces. I’d argue that anyone and everyone looks good in aviators. 

Q: Are expensive aviator sunglasses really better?

A: Sunglasses aren’t complicated, but build quality does matter. High-end sunglasses benefit from better materials and manufacturing techniques than cheap ones, though how much that’s worth is up to you.

Q: What’s the best way to clean aviator sunglasses?

A: All About Vision has a step-by-step guide to cleaning glasses, but it boils down to gentle soap and a soft, lint-free cloth.

Final thoughts

When it comes to aviator sunglasses, the designer sunglasses sported by America’s favorite fighter pilot are still the gold-framed standard. A pair of Ray-Ban RB3025s look great in uniform, a suit, or over a pair of board shorts. The cost of entry isn’t cheap, but you’ll enjoy a quality set of shades for years to come.


Aviator sunglasses have been around since 1936 when they were developed by Bausch & Lomb to protect pilots’ eyes from the harsh glare of the sun at altitude. Generals, actors, and rock stars have made the design a cultural icon for nearly a century. As you can imagine, the style has been picked up by countless manufacturers since then. A quick search on Amazon brought up seven pages of results — most of them from brands I’ve never heard of.

Out of respect for your money, I immediately discarded any products from dubious manufacturers and sellers. Only established, trusted names like Ray-Ban and Michael Kors made the cut. Oh, and Jessica Simpson because she did release a tribute to the Top Gun soundtrack back in the day.

For the most part, I stayed true to the original aviators with the timeless teardrop shape, although I had to make an exception for Ray-Ban’s Caravan shades out of respect for Goose’s son in the new Top Gun: Maverick movie.

Finally, I tried to hit a few different price points to put a quality set of aviators in everyone’s budget. 


Scott Murdock Avatar

Scott Murdock

Commerce Reporter

Scott Murdock is a Task & Purpose commerce writer and Marine Corps veteran. Since 2020, he’s selflessly committed himself to experiencing the best gear, gadgets, stories, and alcoholic beverages in the service of you, the reader.