It's well known I do love my RayBans, but they can get heavy on the face when the weather turns hot. Enter the other classic essential sunglasses, the aviator, or as American Optical calls them, the "original pilot".
Sunglasses are one thing I believe are worth spending a few bucks on for a good pair. When you have nice ones, you tend to take care of them, keep track of them, try hard not to sit on them and so forth, and in return you have them forever. So, flush from the recent Top Shelf Flea Market III, my plan was to spoil myself with a pair from Randolph Engineering. But I dig these even better. Allow me to explain.
I wanted the lenses to be that particular green shade, but I didn't know what the terminology was with the Randolphs. So I asked a friend who has served in the military, His answer was forget Randolph, go with American Optical. Just as good, with just as good a provenance, only much less expensive. That, my friends, is speaking my language.
Randolph Engineering glasses are very "in" right now, being the official glasses of the US armed forces and a favorite of Don Draper (you know, that t.v. character who dictates style these days, even though I learned his bag from my grandfather, who sort of was him in real life. Some day, I'll rant about friggin Mad Men). But American Optical were the glasses of choice back in the 1950s. So, if Don Draper were a real person, he would likely have had these instead.
The glasses are sturdy and tough, but feather light to wear. The lenses, which are glass, not only block harmful rays but also heat. Colors remain true to sight through them. They do have logos, but they are so small as to be nearly invisible. A simple "AO" on the arms, tiny, and a tiny "AO" printed on one lens is all. Bayonet style temples seal the deal for me, but the do come in standard style and also wrap around wire. Just like Randolphs.
American Optical has been making glasses in Southbridge Massachusetts since 1826, so these should appeal to the Americana fetishists on both style and origin, as well as history. I don't have any problem supporting Massachusetts business either...just like Randolphs.
Today I actually saw and held a pair from Randolph Engineering, and apart from logos the two are practically indistinguishable. There is, however, one striking difference. Randolph Engineering sunglasses cost $109 or more, American Optical sells for $74. I got mine from Optics Planet for $41.99.
They are worth every penny.