Seeing is Believing: The Iconic Aviator Sunglasses Worn by Elvis Presley

A chunky pair of gold framed Aviators is synonymous with Elvis Presley: at fancy dress parties around the world, this accessory is the must-have item to complete the look. Presley was well-known for his love of custom-made designer Aviator shades – some of which have now sold for eye-watering prices at auction.

If you’re interested in the eyewear that Elvis wore in the movies – and beyond – then keep reading. We cover everything from The King’s most distinctive shades to where to find replica sunglasses that are as close to the real thing as you’ll get without spending a literal fortune!

Blue Hawaii – Ray-Ban Aviators

The 1961 movie Blue Hawaii starred Elvis Presley and was a romantic musical comedy-drama that also starred Norman Taurog. Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, audiences enjoyed the film, and it went on to become the tenth highest-grossing picture of the year. One thing that certainly wasn’t in doubt was the King of Rock and Roll’s style credentials: the key to his look was his Ray-Ban Aviators – and some colorful floral shirts, of course!

Destination Las Vegas– Custom Aviators

Elvis’s legendary, extended residency in Las Vegas is captured here in all its magic. Featuring all the iconic hits you’d expect and Presley’s electrifying stage performances, this is also a showcase for some of The King’s most recognizable outfits. These included the classic fitted white suit and oversized custom Aviator glasses with tinted shades and extra wide armbars.

As well as live performances, previously unreleased footage is also included, offering a glimpse into the life of the star between shows.

The Sunglasses Worn in the 2022 Elvis Biopic

The recent Elvis biopic of the same name, directed by Baz Luhrmann, recreated a range of the superstar’s stagewear down to the minutest of details, and these included the large gold-framed Aviator shades that became his trademark from the 1950s onwards. Presley was a huge fan of this style of sunglasses and had a large collection featuring different colored frames and lenses.

Foster Grant, the Rhode-island based eyewear brand, was brought on board to recreate the singer’s most famous Aviator glasses looks, with minor tweaks made to adjust them to actor Austin Butler’s physiognomy.

Elvis’ Personal Favorite Sunglasses

Of all the Aviator sunglasses in his collection, Elvis’ best-loved and most worn were the custom-made pair he commissioned from the German brand Neo style. These extra-large shades, with distinctive teardrop-shaped tinted lenses, had the letters ‘EP’ engraved on the bridge and the letters ‘TCB’ etched into the frames themselves – the acronym refers to Elvis’ personal motto: ‘taking care of business.’

As well as Presley, Neostyle supplied the eyewear of choice to other celebrities of the era, including Ray Charles and Don King.

Shades of Elvis

Priscilla Presley, the former wife of Elvis, published a book, Shades of Elvis, in 2014, in which celebrities, including Johnny Depp, and notable individuals are photographed wearing a pair of the superstar’s personal sunglasses. The glasses are made of plastic, chrome, and 14K gold and were worn by the icon during his last vacation in Hawaii in 1977.

Priscilla has spoken about the reverence with which each person appearing in the book handled the sunglasses, treating them with the utmost respect. The sunglasses in question were bought in 1970 while Priscella and Elvis were shopping together on Sunset Boulevard and were purchased at Optique Boutique – a then-famous optician to the stars. Since The King’s death, these glasses were stored safely in the Graceland archives until they went up for auction in 2018.

Breaking Records at Auction

The sunglasses worn by Elvis and featured in Shades of Elvis sold for a record-breaking $159,900 in 2018. The auction created a flurry of excitement, with interested parties worldwide scrambling to secure the iconic eyewear in a rush of phone and online bidding. According to the auction house, as far as it was aware, this was the highest price that had been paid to that point for a pair of Presley’s sunglasses.

The shades were in good company: other auction highlights included a brush owned by Marilyn Monroe, a custom-made piano ring that had belonged to Liberace, Steve McQueen’s folding Persol 714 sunglasses, and a replica of Star Wars Landspeeder.

Where Can I Buy a Pair of Official Elvis Presley Aviator Sunglasses?

Well, for the real deal, you’ll have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars when they (rarely) come up for auction – if not more. But if you want some official Presley eyewear merchandise, the Graceland store is a great place to get a much more affordable pair of Aviators inspired by the legendary singer.

Presley’s personal favorite Aviators, as mentioned above, feature ‘EP on the bridge and the letters ‘TCB’ on the armbars – opt for a vintage-style replica pair in gold or silver for an instantly-recognizable Elvis look!

Final Thoughts

Elvis Presley’s signature oversized and customized eyewear was such a key part of his look that they’ve become almost synonymous with the man himself. While no one can pull off this look quite like the King, Aviator sunglasses are a great way to channel a little bit of timeless rock-and-roll style.

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