April 21, 2009

Thoughts on vintage gloves

When you hear the word gloves, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Michael Jackson, OJ, perhaps Ralphie and his mitts on a string in the movie Christmas Story? Or is your vision of hand socks a little more gentile, more ballroom dancing and First Communion style than pop culture icon?

While gloves in some form or another have been in use since at least the time of the ancient Romans, they are little seen today when not being employed as a means of protecting or warming the hands – or as part of a very formal outfit such as a wedding or prom dress. Once though they were an important element of many people’s everyday wardrobe, a trend that continued well into the twenty first century, only declining as the over-all style of day-to-day clothing became more causal. (I’ve theorized – and my one of my elderly relatives concurs – that the wearing of gloves as common item of clothing went out of style only slightly before the everyday/commonplace wearing of hats did in the 1960s.)

When I think of gloves my mind first pushes aside thoughts of bone numbingly cold Canadian winters and then falls squarely on images of ridiculously elegant women from 30s through to the 50s. Whether grazing over the elbow as for evening wear or barely reaching the wrist, as many day-to-day styles did, gloves were one a staple item of most women’s wardrobes. They were often sold in lovely boxes and could be found at any department or ladies wear store in a myriad of styles, cuts, fabrics (lace, cotton, leather, satin, etc), and colours so that a woman could always match her gloves to her coat or outfit.

{Example of a beautiful pink satin lined vintage glove box. Photo from Vintage Memories.}

Perhaps it was fact that in Toronto we were hit with snow again in April or maybe it’s that these tough economic times have my mind thinking to Depression era styles, whatever the case maybe I’ve been giving some thought to gloves lately and the wonderful supporting role they once played in any well dressed woman’s outfit until a mere fifty or so years ago. Part of me wonders why the wearing of gloves everyday as an accessory to one’s outfit fell out of style and another understands that the relaxed and unrestrictive clothing of the 1960s and 70s are likely to blame.

{Vintage add featuring a stunningly lovely dressed woman (seriously, wouldn’t you just about die for that form fitting, flared skirt, double row of button adored dress?) wearing white wrist length gloves. Found on the dazzling and very inspirational pages of myvintagevogue’s Flickr stream.}

Whatever led to the abolishment of daily glove wearing, there’s no reason you can’t revive the trend now, if only for yourself. I’ll admit that at the moment I only have one pair of non-winter gloves, a black elbow length pair, and they’re not vintage or even retro. But I want to get more...many more. In dainty knit and supple suede, shimmery satin and crisp cotton. My plan, to keep my eyes firmly peeled on the second hand store and etsy front for excellent deals on vintage gloves (online vintage shops like Vintage Hatbox and Davenport & Co. are definitely also worth checking out). Who knows, maybe I’ll luck out and come across some gloves as lovely as these.

{A rainbow of amazing, softly hued Van Raalte brand gloves circa 1956. Image from Empress Jade’s vintage lingerie blog.}

What are your thoughts on the wearing of gloves in today’s world? Do you love or loath the idea of finishing off your favourite vintage outfits with them?


  1. Hi dear Jessica,

    A long time ago, I meant to start at the beginning of your blog and read through. I never got very far, and now I am attempting it again. It is very entertaining and a fun activity while having a coffee break.

    As you know, I too love gloves, even though I don't own any at the moment but one flimsy pair of black gloves that look as though they are from the 1950s. But hey, way back in this post, you only had one pair of dress gloves, too; and look at you now.

    My mother always said that she was relieved when gloves were no longer a necessity. Having 12 daughters would probably do that for a mother. She said it was too much work trying to keep clean, nice gloves. I can see if people judged you on the condition of your gloves how that could be troublesome.

    See you in another post!

    1. Hello dear Hope, I distinctly remember (as it is not something I hear everyday by any means) when you shared with me that you were beginning to do so. That really stuck with, and moved me, and I'm equally touched to know that you're continuing to work your way through some of CV's oldest posts once more. As of my most recent post (yesterday morning), I have published exactly 1,450 posts here over the course of a little more than seven years, so you'll definitely have lots of fun reading to keep you going for quite some time. :)

      Big hugs & many heartfelt thanks for being such an awesome blog reader and online friend alike,

      ♥ Jessica