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Monday, February 1, 2010

Gentlemen's Gloves

Gloves were as much a fashion statement as shoes or a hat, and just as functional, as well. To the best of my knowledge the gentlemen wore white gloves while inside a house. These were not the same gloves they wore against the cold, just outside, or when riding /driving, they were softer, lighter and white.

In this picture, the two gentlemen are wearing gloves,and one has the right one off, possibly to shake a hand. They are clearly dressed to the nines so they are possibly on their way to make a call or to attend a soiree.

How long they kept them on is a different story. They did not wear gloves when dining or when playing cards, of course. The etiquette about man's gloves was slightly different than that concerning women's gloves so there might be more times when they could go about without their gloves. For instance, gentlemen usually took off their gloves when they made a social call (they would be wearing outdoor gloves, and would leave them with their hat -- or hold them with their hat) while women would keep on their gloves unless eating or drinking tea. I think men were supposed to take off their glove to shake hands but women kept theirs on. Still, gloves were part of the man's evening and daytime attire. Of course, men and women both wore gloves when ever they went out of the house.

In this picture, the gentleman is dressed to go riding or hunting and has on the appropriate heavier leather gloves.

When a man came calling, his right hand glove always had to be removed because the gloved hand was never given to a lady, with the exception of dance. So when a gentleman arrived in a drawing room, he held his hat and single right hand glove in his left hand and would greet the lady with his right, ungloved hand. The whole idea of wearing only one glove and holding onto the hat is based upon the fact that it was a privilege to call upon a lady and unless she permitted him to place his hat and gloves aside, he was ready to leave in a moment's notice upon her request without being rude. Of course there were some jokes about that as well. That the hat was safer in one's hand depended upon who you were calling ;-)

Once the hostess invited the man to stay, both gloves were removed and the hat set down. On all other occasions, it appears that when in public (dancing, balls, opera), gloves were almost always worn by a man, except during dining.

Gloves bespoke of a man's wealth and character and were specifically tailored to a person's hand. So if there unusually large in appearance and did not fit well, people took note that a.) they were borrowed (heaven forbid!) or b.) funds were low (mothers beware!)

Gentlemen were expected to take their hats in with them into the drawing room and not to leave them on tables or benches in the foyer or hallway. Also says the man should put his hat under his chair with his gloves in it (one assumes the hostess has had the floors well dusted, swept.)


Joanna Waugh said...

Wonderful post, Donna!

Back in the 1960s, tight-fitting over the elbow evening gloves were always worn by the girls to prom. I remember mine had a opening three inches long on the inside of the wrists with a line of small round buttons to keep it closed. When a young lady ate, she pulled her hand out through the opening and tucked the finger portion of the gloves up into the arm of the glove. This was so she didn't have to remove the entire glove. It keep them from being soiled with food stains.

Linda Banche said...

Great post, Donna. I love all these little ins-and-outs that loomed large at the time, but that we don't know much about.