You know a showy top bar—that thingamajig that prominently links the two eye rims at upper points of their perimeters—when you see it. And you see it all over the place right now, from the mass-marketing of Sunglass Hut to the gold-plated terrain of $2,000 Tom Ford specs, which boast a spiffy hinge on the high bridge of their clip-on lenses. The in-thing in eyewear is right above your nose.
In general, frames boasting bold brow bars are variations on (or, at least, distant relations of) the classic pilot’s sunglasses. The original aviators debuted around 1936, after the U.S. military commissioned Bausch & Lomb to improve on the bulkiness and discomfort of flight goggles. Within the decade, the company was selling them to weekend sportsmen under the Ray-Ban trademark. The frame’s rise to fame—via Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines, Brando in The Wild One, and Maverick and Goose in Top Gun—is a fascinating mash-up of military and pop-cultural history.