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Ray-Ban’s 75 bright years in the sun

Douglas MacArthur makes good his promise to return to the Philippines wearing his Ray-Ban Aviators.

There are some things that never go out of style. The little black dress. The perfect shade of red lipstick. Chivalry. (I’d like to believe it’s not dead. Yeah, we may like bad boys, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want you to open doors for us anymore.) These are just a few of the things that endure long after trends become tacky.

Sure, we all hop onboard the bandwagon every now and then. When a new trend pops up (or an old one is resurrected), everyone wants in on it. But as soon as it’s no longer in vogue, we return to the classics we’ve always worn. The tried, tested, and true. You can never go wrong with a classic. Safe, perhaps, but always stylish. And when you have them on, you can be absolutely certain that you’ll never look at a photo of yourself and go, “What the hell was I thinking when I wore that?!” Not always the case when we get caught up in the “in” thing.

I mean, who hasn’t been suckered into a trend? I still remember wearing those hideous elephant pants everyone was so into in grade school. (If I recall right, there was an even wider variant appropriately named “massives.” We were literally sweeping the floor with them when we wore them to the school fair; the janitors must have loved us.) Cue to over 10 years later, and palazzo pants, an infinitely more flattering and fashionable take on that fifth grade faux pas, came into the picture. And yet it’s my basic denims that still get the most wear. (I can buy a relatively pricey pair with ease, because my jeans last for years and years, and only get more comfortable with age.)

US President Barack Obama sports a pair of Ray-Ban.

It’s the same with sunglasses. I’ll spot a cute designer pair that costs my monthly salary and will probably make me look like an insect, and I’ll get tempted. Sometimes I might cave. But I go back to my tried, tested, and true: the Ray-Ban Aviators.

I see them (and other Ray-Ban frames; my future boyfriend Robert Pattinson appears particularly fond of the Clubmaster) perched on the faces of famous people here and abroad, hanging off the noses of friends and strangers, and they never fail to flatter any face. They never look dated. They’re never out of style.

My first pair of Aviators was a birthday gift. I had wanted something to alternate with my New Wayfarers. Then, when they got stolen (I forgive whoever took them; that kind of cool is hard to resist), I immediately had to buy a new pair. Months later, I sacrificed that second pair to rock and roll. (In other words, I lost them in a wild mosh pit at a Libertines gig in Hong Kong.) My third pair is keeping my hair out of my face as I type. I can lose the bug shades, but these, I just cannot be without.

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Hard to imagine that something so cool was conceived in 1937, but they’re iconic for a reason. Originally invented 75 years ago to protect pilots’ eyes from the glare of the sun, they’ve since graced countless faces. They even have a bit role in Philippine history. General Douglas MacArthur was snapped wearing a pair when he was in the country during World War II, and the classic frames have been immortalized on his face in the memorial on the shores of Leyte. They’ve long gone from military to mainstream, and over the years, new styles have cropped up and captured the same cult status. (Wayfarers, anyone? James Dean and JFK alike sported their own pairs.)

If you look at the slew of celebs who’ve rocked the frames, one thing is clear: Regardless of age, gender, race, genre, and personal style, there’s a pair of Ray-Bans out there for everybody. Debbie Harry, Drew Barrymore, and Douglas MacArthur in Aviators; Katy Perry, RPattz, and Charlotte Casiraghi in Clubmasters; Reese Witherspoon, Rihanna, Rachel Bilson, and Gaga in Wayfarers; and the President of the United States himself, sporting a pair. And that’s just naming a handful. From the A-list to the indie (because we can’t forget all the rockstars who have been spotted in Ray-Ban shades), from the famous to you and me, anyone can find a pair that channels his or her own cool.

Seventy-five years of style can’t be wrong. And, whatever trends come and go, you can be absolutely certain that, for Ray-Ban, the next 75 are a sure thing.

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