For about so long as the web’s existed, photos have circulated of JFK carrying the hell out of rolled-up Oxford shirts, pale crewneck sweatshirts, and one notably rad pair of tortoiseshell frames. No commander in chief has contributed extra moodboard fodder to the menswear canon than our thirty fifth, and no piece has finished extra to solidify Kennedy’s standing as a modern-day type god than his American Optical sun shades. However till lately, eagle-eyed JFK lovers couldn’t do far more than squint at their screens in disappointment—shopping for a pair of the previous president’s iconic sunnies was principally unimaginable.
American Optical, a Southbridge, Massachusetts-based operation based within the 1830s, boasts a Forest Gump-like presence all through American historical past. Ted Williams and Malcom X have been each clients; Robert De Niro wore a pair of the model’s aviators in Taxi Driver, as did Neil Armstrong on a visit he took to a bit place known as the moon. (Kennedy himself visited the manufacturing unit when he was a junior senator representing his residence state.)
Till lately, although, the model solely produced two silhouettes: aviators it dubbed the Authentic Pilot, and a similar-looking pair known as the Normal. However when new possession took the reins in 2020, the corporate relocated its manufacturing unit to Chicago and introduced again a bunch of nearly-forgotten fashions, together with the JFK-preferred Saratoga. All of which is to say: even with out the presidential seal of approval, they seem to be a fairly killer pair of frames.
Not like the designer sun shades lining the partitions at your native optician, they’re made in-house, and by hand, proper right here within the US. They’re not low-cost, however they don’t really feel it, both: together with the historic pedigree, there’s a weightiness to the frames that helps justify the worth. Immediately, the Saratoga is available in vary of finishes, however if you would like the real-deal JFK model—American Optical sun shades that may attain throughout the aisle, so to talk, and work with each warring faction in your wardrobe—time-tested tortoiseshell continues to be the transfer.