This wardrobe item, unfortunately, has lost its main purpose, delicacy and aristocraticism, that it was notable for in previous centuries… It has become a practical and ordinary item: now people wear gloves mostly for cold protection. But it doesn’t only warm up hands – carefully imitating human skin, this accessory serves as a kind of hand mask, that hides its true age, activity, defects or the absence of a perfect manicure! Hand tight-fitting gloves are compared with the second skin for a reason.
As a decoration and hand protection gloves are known from ancient times: in the Pyramids among a great number of stuff in personal pharaoh wardrobe, this item was found. Initially it was made as simple sacks without holes for fingers, and only later something like a mitten has appeared. But gloves with fingers have already existed in ancient times: egyptians and romans used it for protecting their hands in the process of working or eating.
In Middle ages they wore gloves without fingers or mittens. It was during Middle ages, when this toiletware has achieved a symbolic meaning, first courtesy rules connected with it have appeared: a glove was given to a vassal in sign of favoritism. It was thrown to an offender, waging the battle. A glove, that a lady gave to a knight, was an evidence of a goodwill and love, and it was held in a prominent place, attaching it to a hat or a belt. It was embarrassing to go out without the “second skin”. Gloves were taken off as a sign of respect in church. A judge took off his gloves when pronouncing the sentence – in sign of respect to the law. Gloves were also taken off during greetings, demonstrating their trust to a person.
In some degree a glove symbolized its owner, it was considered as a reputation of a person itself. It’s known that, after Pushkin’s death, Zhukovsky, disabled to be in friend’s funeral and to drop ritual handful of ground into the grave, put his glove into poet’s coffin instead.
This hand decoration was particularly popular in 19 century. Gloves were worn almost all the time during the day: in the high society people changed gloves at least six times a day! Dirty and ragged gloves were thrown immediately, so a person from the society had to have at least 365 pairs per year… Mostly, this toiletware was made of kidskin – skin of newborn gatlings or lambs. Kidskin gloves were very elastic and they didn’t wrinkle on hands. But at that, thin and tight gloves cracked a lot, so people tried to take along the second pair. And it was also difficult to put them on: they had to draw it on with special pliers – pincers. As it was quite difficult to put on the gloves in public, the etiquette required to put it on at home and not to take it off during the whole evening.
Apart from the material, the color was also important: men picked this costume item to a tailcoat color, they were made of yellow skin for hunting, gloves of black color were supposed to be worn with sable. Ladies picked light tinctures. In general, white color was special: white evening glove covered wrinkles, “equalized” young and old, beautiful and ugly hands, it was a sign of its owner selectness. White color had almost magic meaning, and ladies from fortuneless families had to fall back upon different tricks in order to give their gloves whiteness and fresh look: they carefully mended and cleaned it! If it was normal for people of great possession that white gloves were of single use, people of middle class, willing to follow courtesy rules, sometimes were holding the only pair of gloves in their hands for weeks, without wearing it, just like they have just taken it off.
On ball such accessory was an integral part of the suit, because it was completely intolerable to touch each other with bare hands! It was allowed to bare hands only during the dinner and before the card-table. In the evening this toiletware could be only white, only women of demimonde and signers wore colored gloves in this time of day. A french cabaret signer Yvette Guilbert was one of the first of those who wore long colored gloves at the time of her performance. Thanks to her, «piquant» black gloves have become a symbol of erotic. They were short to the wrist at chavaliers, ladies in revealing dress wore very long gloves, above elbows.
Now we don’t have much occasions to put on long black velvet gloves: nobody arranges everyday balls, in theaters people usually wear their casual clothes, and, admit, it is impossible to visit gala receptions very often. So now the question about wearing this item or not depends only on the will and mood of its owner (it also has its positive aspect!) or on the weather. However, expensive beautiful gloves, as always, look very exquisite and attractive, giving a special chic to its owner.
By the way.Gloves play an important role in recent season fashion, defining sometimes all the frame of a suit. When picking glove materials designers don’t stop their choices on traditional leather or chamois. On presentations gloves of textile, knit-wear, lace can be seen more often. Length also varies – apart from traditional fashionable long gloves, short or very short, even below the wrist gloves are being proposed more often.
Colors of this fashionable accessory are quite diverse now – from classic black, brown, white and red, to all the other colors and tinctures. It is important to note that, at its color combination, gloves can both harmonize with the image as a whole, and contrast with it.