Welcome to Fashion Friday, where we take a look at an item or aspect of 19th century fashion.  It’s typically a shorter post than the rest of the week.  After all, we all have to get ready for the weekend, don’t we?

We’re progressing through accessories that have been dying out over time.  Last week we discussed handkerchiefs, which had some utility.  Today’s accessory is perhaps less useful than the hankie:

Dress Gloves

Up through the 1950s and into the 60s, women wore dress gloves when going out in public.  A clean pair of gloves symbolized a woman’s gentility and class.  Depending upon the occasion, women’s gloves came to the wrist, or went all the way past the elbow.  In the 20th century, men’s dress gloves were not everyday wear, but reserved for more formal occasions.

Breakfast at Tiffany's: a dress-glove occasion

Things you may not have known about gloves:

1.  Napoleon was purported to have owned over 240 pairs of gloves.

2.  The fanciest gloves, known as opera gloves, stretched over the elbow and had 16 buttons.  Special hooks were needed to get these on.

3.  Texas Burlesque University (I kid you not) offers courses in the art of burlesque striptease, including the seductive removal of opera gloves:  more info

4.  A woman wearing gloves would smoke a cigarette using a cigarette holder so as to keep her gloves free of nicotine stains.

5.  In the 19th century, a gentleman would never touch a lady bare-handed in public.  (I’ll leave the other scenarios to you romantic writers out there).





Today, only a few occasions call for dress gloves:

1.  Military dress

2.  The Academy Awards

2.  gazillion-dollar-a-plate black-tie fund raisers

3.  little girl tea parties (maybe)

4.  historical re-enactments


Want more info?

Martha Stewart, domestic diva

History of Opera Gloves

Do you remember wearing or seeing others wear dress gloves?  On what occasions?  What associations do you make with dress gloves?  Any other wardrobe “relic” come to mind?

See ya later!


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