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Jun 5, 2012

Glove Story



Occasionally a blog post forces me to confront uncomfortable truths.  Today I realized I own nearly twenty pairs of women's gloves.

I pick up a pair here and a pair there -- usually from the same flea market vendor who sells them for a few dollars apiece -- and suddenly, I have a collection.  I own red gloves and blue gloves, pink opera length, lavender shirred, and white faggoted.  I have silver and gold metallic gloves, kid gloves, satin gloves, and velvet gloves, but most of them are nylon.







I know dress gloves are a frivolous accessory harking back to the days when a "lady" was supposed to have hands as soft as rose petals.  Once women joined the work force in large numbers, gloves no doubt seemed archaic.  And yet Vogue Patterns was still showing them (mainly with their Couture Originals) as late as 1969.





Cathy rarely appears without gloves, if only to hide a bad case of contact dermatitis.



While Mad Men-inspired cocktail dresses, 50's Kelly bags, and black liquid eyeliner have all come back, what of the glove?  I fear the dress glove is gone for good outside the occasional frou-frou wedding.  Do you have evidence to the contrary?  If so, please share it.

If you're interested, read about Daniel Storto, a glovemaker who actually works in what was once the glove-making capital of the world, Gloversville, New York.  I also found this site that sells dressy gloves of many types, for the glove-hungry among you.

In closing, what's your take on dress gloves?   Do you ever wear them?  What do you think led to their demise?

Am I the only one who longs for their return?  (Wouldn't it be gloverly?)


49 comments:

  1. As much as i would love to wear gloves, the sad fact remains that i didn't inherit my mother's willowy frame and slender hands...i inherited my father's large, broad hands. I don't even wear wedding rings; anything that draws attention to my hands isn't welcomed, i'm afraid so a comeback of the glove fad isn't high on my list of retro wishes :(

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    1. What better to hide those hands than gloves! (Maybe not red ones though...)

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  2. But is there anything sexier than long, over the elbow black gloves?

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  3. I would LOVE for gloves to come back! So much more elegant than sunscreen.

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  4. Peter, your world is richly strewn with fiber arts flotsam. It's this curious blend of knowing and knowing of, which makes your blog a first stop for so many of us.

    For the sake of well-coordinated mother-to-be, is it time for a glove sew-along?

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    1. Well I DID buy the pattern featured up top. Not sure I'd have too many participants. ;)

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    2. I'd participate. I have that pattern too! Though I'm not exactly sure about how one goes about grading up a glove pattern.

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    3. I'd be in. But would need to find a pattern.

      I wore my grandmother's best gloves - over the elbow with pearl buttons - to my senior prom.

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    4. I'd love to test drive your pattern:-)

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  5. I would love to see more gloves. I grew up in the 60's and my church clothes always included a hat and gloves. I remember my mother regularly wearing them into the early 70's. I feel self conscience now wearing anything but gloves for warmth in the winter. I have a drawer full of them from mother and grandmothers. I would love to be able to wear them.

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    1. My mother, who is hardly the ladylike type, used to have a drawer full of them too. I'm guessing most women did back in the day.

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  6. The gloves of yore are so beautiful, elegant, ladylike. Is it possible though, that the 1980's might be partly responsible difficulties in bringing back gloves. Between Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, modern gloves (other than the ones worn for snowball fights) seem to have taken on more of the feel of a faddish costume (not to mention Michael Jackson and the whole one silver glove thing). At this juncture it seems impossible that there could be a contemporary glove revival without having the neon fishnet fingerless type overtake anything of more understated elegance.

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  7. I wore long gloves for my prom (with a strapless dress) and that was in 1991! Having said that, I do think that the impossibility of eating in gloves led to their demise. You're supposed to take them off gracefully, finger by finger...eh. And then going to the bathroom? Forget it. I can't even remember if I wore them post-pictures while I was at the actual prom. They're extremely high maintenance for today's world.

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  8. I always wear gloves when I go to weddings being held in a church. However I *always* get some comment about them being part of a costume. My good friends have come to expect me wearing gloves to weddings, but it still gives them a giggle. Of course, there are often other women in the congregation with skirts above the knee and bare shoulders...so I am used to being in the minority. I wish gloves would gone back into every day wear though: so hygienic and pretty !

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    1. They probably do help keep germs from spreading, right?

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  9. One of the historic reasons for gloves was that it was once a much dirtier world than we live in today - even in the early 20th century, soot from coal burning was everywhere. Gloves kept the hand cleaner in an age before Purell. A pair of fine kid gloves might last only a day for a fastidious wearer before needing professional cleaning. Washable kid (introduced in 1913 or so) and nylon made it much easier to have clean white gloves.

    Gloves are one of the major niceties of midcentury life I miss seeing most.

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  10. I also have a habit of buying vintage gloves. Not quite as prolific as you, Peter, but only bec. I forcibly stopped myself from going to flea markets / swap meets / antique stores as regularly & the thrift store a few blocks from my house is weak in the glove dept (whew). I still have a dozen pairs that I rarely have occasion to wear, maybe 2x a year with costumes. Which makes me sad, but I love them & have already winnowed down the collection as much as possible.

    But gloves for everyday wear, other than in cold weather? Not practical. Esp. in this touch-screen age!

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  11. I was always told that gloves were to hide the work rough hands of women. We weren't supposed to look like we use our hands or worked outside in the sun, and besides, they were pretty. My mom is wearing her wedding gloves to her grandson's wedding in a week. They match, are made of net so are comfortable, and they will hide the fact that she first wore them 63 years ago.

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  12. This is a good time to consider Queen Elizabeth II. When shaking hands or waving in public, there are always gloves.

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  13. I just made my first pair of gloves cause it's winter down here. They aren't a womanly as your collection but that's what I'd like to sew soon for an impending wedding in the family. Your collection is wonderful and it's given me ideas on future pretty gloves. Mine look very bikie-chick. So I'm working on a bikie-chick jacket to match. These pieces would be so not-Cathy's style.

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  14. What a fine and enviable glove collection. I have a few pairs that I often forget about. Mainly because they are never quite the right sort. So I am going to take this as a reminder that I meant to attempt to make some, last year and completely forgot about that too. I am off to find a pattern as lovely as yours. Thank you for the memory jog! :-)

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  15. I have some of my grandmother's gloves, but I don't have her hands so I wouldn't dare wear them. They dry my hands out, anyway. If I ever wanted to wear nice gloves in earnest, I'd have to have them custom-made because I have weird hands.

    I used to work for a veterinarian: We joked that vets and vet techs always wore long gloves to formal occasions to hide the cat-scratch scars on their arms. (Actually, we weren't really joking about this.)

    I prefer mittens in winter, though, on the rare occasions it gets cold enough to need them here. They're warmer, and I don't like having that much material between my fingers, even if they make it harder to pick things up, etc.

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  16. Love, love them. Yes...let's bring them back. Sometimes I dress up vintage and wear a hat and gloves and go to the local grocery store. I get LOTS of looks, but I don't care. Usually an older women will come up to me and admire my outfit which makes me swoon with happiness. I picked up one woman's collection of 38 pair, for a song at a yard sale. The smell of the leather intoxicates me. I keep them in a drawer and sometimes I open the drawer just to smell them.

    Gloves Galore

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  17. Peter! You beat me to it! I was going to say that they may provide some natural barrier to germs and bacteria particularly when in more urban areas. I know when I go traipsing around NYC or Philly (I always use mass transportation), I always wish I'd worn gloves!

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  18. I've been watching season 1 and season 2 of "That Girl". First episode of of season 2 features Ethel Merman and she's wearing gloves. This got me thinking if anything that show is a fashion time capsule worth watching.

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  19. Love the topic. I adore gloves, even very colourful mittens too. Dashes of colour that are a treat. This Sat. I go to a charity tea, and plan to wear lilac crochetted gloves (25 cents from a rummage sale). When I bought them, the sales lady (volunteer) said - the person buying these gloves will actually look good in them....You can also dye gloves if you buy the plain white ones. Such fun, Cathie, in Quebec. Who actually wore gloves to visit her mother in a hospital of late (having a somewhat weakened respiratory system, it pays to be cautious).

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  20. I am a glove wearer. When I lived in the subtropics, it wasn't always comfortable but now I live in a colder climate I can indulge my love. I have light nylon ones like you have, I have knitted velourish ones, luscious suede and leather pairs - too many to name. I have them in numerous colours and enjoy each morning choosing matching beret, scarf and gloves to compliment my outfit. It's a bit of an affectation, I know, but I enjoy it. I don't have too many formal occasions to wear them to these days, but if an excuse presents I leap on it! I also religiously wear gloves for protection ie rubber gloves for housework, gardening gloves for outdoor work, grippy gloves if I am carrying or lifting things and light cotton gloves to protect from sun if I am drive for long periods of time.

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  21. I wore cute little white gloves with my dresses and hats when I was a little girl in the 60's. I hated dressing up because I had to work so hard to stay clean. Even now dressing up gives me the willies, though I will say that when I bought some very thin, soft leather gloves for winter travel to Boston, I felt very dressed up and happy.

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  22. You are certainly not the only one wishing for the return of elegant, ladylike gloves! I've considered making my own (pastel leather!), but until I get better at sewing, I think I'll just covet.

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  23. Gloves are alive and well on young ladies in the South - even if only for Cotillion! The 5th-8th graders here often attend a 5 week session of weekly dance and etiquette lessons. My oldest son has had to learn how to tie a tie, properly wear a jacket (when to button and unbutton it), and how to make polite conversation. He has also learned to dance with young ladies (who must wear white gloves with their dresses just as the young men must wear suit jackets and ties). Compared to the occasional middle school dance I have the unfortunate need to chaperone, this is so much nicer and the kids have fun while learning manners, dancing and social etiquette.

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  24. As a germophobe, I own a dozen pairs of gloves. Crocheted net ones in white, ivory, and black; kid gloves in taupe, grey, and rose, and both white and black cotton gloves with a pearl button. The black ones are for funerals and Good Friday mass. Then I have lined, brown Italian leather gloves, as well as some knitted ones for the cold. I enjoy the rose ones the best. I use them as an unexpected splash of color when I have to wear my black wool coat.

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  25. Gloves are for proving you won't (for the time bracketed by glove wearing, of course) have to do any sort of physical work with your hands. That's not really something that's valued outside evening wear these days.

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  26. I long for the return of the glove every time I ride the CTA. Let's start a revolution!

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  27. I love gloves. I had a favourite suede pair that I wore for years, until I lost one. I still have about five pairs for every occasion. They are not just for Queens and Princesses you know.

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  28. Woolly gloves for outdoor winter wear are still a reasonably common sight here in Melbourne Oz, but yes, the little nylon numbers are rarely seen in our warm to hot summers. Thank goodness! At the end of my school days I cut up the horrid itchy navy blue gloves we were forced to wear in public and vowed never to wear anything like them ever again. Forty five years on and I've kept that promise. No more itchy, hot sweaty blue palms for me.

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  29. I'm a big fan of gloves. I do have to admit that I don't wear them as often.
    But if you are talking gloves, there's something else that needs to come back.
    Parasols! If you go out with a parasol people will usually will say: "You're too early, it's not raining" But to hell with it! So next time when the sun is too much for my sensitive skin... I'll be going out with my parasol and gloves!

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  30. Years ago Ann from Gorgeous Fabrics made up a glove pattern - it had 23 pieces and they all looked the same! Cured me forever of a desire to make gloves lol

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  31. I have inherited some gloves from my mother (although some of them may have been my grandmother's) - there's a short black pair, an almost elbow length pair with shirring like your lavender ones in pale pink and a stained white pair with pearl buttons at the wrist. Then there's the pair that I seem to recall hearing that Mum wore for her deb ball - they're organza, and gathered at the wrist with tiny seed pearls covering the gathering stitches. Gorgeous! We had to wear gloves for our deb (um... was it really 30 years ago?) but they were crocheted or knitted or something holey anyway that we all had to have matching.
    I've made gloves a couple of times for various superhero costumes. There's a pattern from a small company called Ibexa that has gloves in 3 lengths plus gauntlets (ie gloves with no hands) in the same three lengths. This pattern uses lycra so they fit really nicely. Very fiddly to sew the tiny seams together.
    Oh, and I keep a pair of stretch-suede(ette) purple gloves in the pockets of my winter jacket, so I'll always have access to them when needed, such as yesterday when it only got to 13degrees (C) here in Sunny Melbourne.

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  32. I went to college in 1966 with a girdle, stockings, and gloves packed with my good suit and a hat--and that was to a state university! I think I wore them all once before succumbing to the new "natural" style, which meant less ladylike anything. It's a far drop to jeans and tees, but a practical one. Now we need to climb our way back up at least part way. Elegance doesn't have to be fussy or expensive. Gloves hid a lot of ugly knuckles and my short, thin nails, and nicely finished the appearance of my suit. You have to be in less of a hurry than most people seem to be, and certainly not pumping gas or washing dishes, for accessories that need keeping track of like gloves.

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  33. There is (or WAS) a glove pattern available at the Threads website. An article on John Koch and his gloves got me interested...and sewing gloves! Which is not hard AT ALL!

    If you can sew a fine seam by hand you are all set. The only part that is tricky is "easing in" the thumb. Other than that, it's entirely straightforward.

    And it is easy-peasy to modify the pattern to your particular requirements! I have a very low-set little finger and worse, a forefinger and middle finger that are almost the same length, so regular gloves never ever fit me properly! When I modified the pattern, I made the forefinger longer, and dropped the little finger down a bit, and voila! Gloves that fit!

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  34. I bought silver opera gloves to wear with a vintage faux fur coat that I bought at a thrift store. Found out from an older friend that the sleeves were intentionally shorter to show off gloves. It's such a fun combo that I wear it all winter, not just for special occasions.

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  35. I love the look of gloves but find it hard enough to find gloves that fit to keep my hands warm in winter... i have my grandmother's hands: fairly large but it doesn't show because they are long. my fingers are simply too long for most ready to wear gloves. i usually wear the cheap stretchy knit ones because they come closest to fitting, but i'm trying to talk my father into getting me a custom made pair for christmas (there is a neat place in antwerp that makes beautiful leather and fabric gloves for all occasions, and they do custom fits as wel: http://www.glovesboon.be/

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  36. So inspiring!!!!! Love it, love it, love it. The Times article was fabulous, too! The practicality of gloves for fashion only is questionable... but hey, there are so many other things in the highly impractical category, that I'll fully embrace them, if given the chance!

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  37. I also horde gloves. They're so lovely and available and I see them lying there all ladylike and lonely and take them home. It's funny that you mention the Vogue Couture patterns from the 60's - I did a post on them recently and I LOVED the way they were styled with gloves. I think those dresses look so chic and elegant with them, and I think if a modern girl wore them today it would look rather fresh. I think it only looks forced for today when you're in full on 50's New Look dresses - but a little 60's sheath? Yummy. I've worn pairs recently - a crochet pair to a tea party, and white nylon ones styled like motorcycle gloves (with the hole over the top of hand and strap at wrist) with a big 50's prom dress. They were a little more punk then ladylike, and I thought contrasted with the sweetness of the dress quite nicely.

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  38. This must have been a class/income kind of thing. We were a hand to mouth military family and I don't think my mother ever owned a pair of gloves such as you are talking about. It was more important to have knitted gloves for the winter.

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  39. I'd love to see gloves make a comeback, although none of the vintage pairs I find are ever large enough for my hands. Anyway I think they may need a style overhaul -- how about some pairs that have a modern edge? As you yourself have highlighted before, the age of dainty is over, so perhaps gloves need to evolve a little before they're ready to go mainstream again.

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  40. I'm a dude. I own two pairs of men's leather gloves. One black, one brown. Both with three darts on each backhand. Black ones I bought in London at the famous Burlington Arcade. The others were a lucky thriftshop find for $8!

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  41. I would LOVE for gloves to come back! So much more elegant than sunscreen.

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