By Ian Taylor
A select few occupations throughout history will forever be considered cool, and fighter pilot is a mainstay of this group. Commanding machines capable of speeds that outpace sound itself require supernatural reflexes and nerves of steel, and the exceptional individuals who dominate the skies are lauded for their skills in the sky.
The praise doesn’t stop there, however. The gear that pilots don has a tendency to work its way into pop culture, as is evident with the fact that the original “Top Gun” brought Ray-Ban sunglasses back into the spotlight after dwindling sales before the ‘80s. However, the iconic shades are just the tip of the iceberg of aviation’s influence on fashion.
As “Top Gun: Maverick” preps for takeoff on May 24, here’s a list of essential flight gear guaranteed to make you stand out from the crowd.
Ray-Ban Aviators (Or any aviator-style sunglasses)
Aviators have maintained their relevance because not only are they timelessly stylish, but they’re also functional. Created in 1936 by Bausch & Lomb, the iconic teardrop silhouette of the aviators were designed for better eye coverage for pilots and protected against the harsh rays of the sun at fighter pilot altitudes, hence the name “Ray-Ban,” according to Grailed. This functional design became the pinnacle of stylish sunglasses form, and because of that, aviators can be paired with just about any outfit. Formal wear? Classy. A light sundress? Sassy. LA-inspired streetwear? Flashy. Aviators have been a mainstay for decades and show absolutely no sign of retreating from the realm of fashion. Even the president himself is a dedicated fan.
The unmistakable shape of a bomber jacket makes for a solid statement, and the puffy roundness perfectly complements the circular shape of aviators should you ever pair the two. Just like the sunglasses, bomber jackets are incredibly versatile. Most bombers come in a single neutral color, allowing them to be paired with a plethora of outfit variations. They’re also quite functional, striking a nice balance between warm insulation and light comfort.
Tough, badass, heavy-duty footwear is as much a staple of American fashion as the leather jackets they’re usually paired with. Once again born out of necessity which morphed into street style, combat boots are a bold exclamation point bookending any outfit they’re paired with. You can also get creative when wearing long pants with them by choosing to leave them untucked or stuffing them into the high tops of the boots to create a sharp point at your feet.
One-piece body-length garments are somewhat underrated, and fighter pilot-style jumpsuits and coveralls make for some fantastic looks. They portray an image of simple unity and have endless potential when it comes to accessorization. They’re also a nice outfit to resort to when you’re feeling uncreative and can’t quite seem to put a multi-piece outfit together.
“Top Gun: Maverick” lands in theaters on May 24, and we can’t wait to see what other aviator-inspired looks the film will have in store.