“If I was a woman, I would be dressed in the same thing for a month and just change my hat and gloves. Maybe my shoes too; yes, I see what you mean but, really, it’s jewels that change an outfit.” Manolo Blahnik
I love nothing more than the feeling of the soft leather or cashmere caressing my skin as I put on my first pair of gloves for the winter season. It’s a sensation that brings with it, its very own special pleasure, as although Mother Nature can be particularly cruel where I live at this time of year, she at least brings with her this gift of bliss in disguise, hidden as a private moment shared between one woman and another.
She wasn’t the first however to introduce me to the pleasure of gloves however, that claim belongs to Rita Hayworth or more accurately, her character Gilda, in the film of the same name, whose performance inspired me to purchase my first, a pair of vintage long, satin opera gloves that I’ve cherished for the past 15 years, even though my collection has expanded and expanded to now include vintage gloves of different colours, length and materials be it silk, linen, cotton or lace. I don’t think, that my thirst for shopping gloves will ever be fully satisfied! And why should it? Wearing gloves doesn’t have to be just about protection from the weather and I’ve always fancied the idea of wearing gloves (particularly vintage gloves) for all occasions and all year round, just like the exquisitely dressed ladies of the 18th and 19th centuries who had a clever ulterior motive going on behind the wearing of heir gloves.
In the 1800s gloves played a very significant role in affairs of the heart, as because of the strict rules of conduct, it was difficult for a lady to communicate her desires. Propriety was the byword and a young lady’s reputation could have been easily ruined, so to avoid any unpleasant situations many books were published explaining the meaning of specific signals to help a lady show her true feelings and not to be caught by doing so. After all, she would be using a secret code (not so secret to those who have read the books) without having to be in direct contact with the suitor.
Here’s the secret etiquette of gloves –
- Dropping one of the gloves meant- yes
- Dropping both gloves – I love you
- Using gloves as a fan – Introduce me to your company
- Turning them inside out – I hate you
- Folding a glove – get rid of your company
- Tossing gloves to the side – I am engaged
- Pressing the end of the tip of the glove to lips – do you love me?
- Holding them hanging loose in the right hand – I’m satisfied
- Tapping the chin with gloves meant – I love another.
And while we’re still in the 1800s, here’s a rough guide to get you through basic glove manners –
- Gloves were always put on at home and never in public.
- They were to be removed during supper or playing cards. Discretion was required and gloves had to be removed under the table and placed on the lap, which was covered by a serviette.
- They were also removed during the application or touch up of make-up.
- But gloves were never to be removed when shaking hands on the street.
“And her old Uncle William used to say a lady is known by her shoes and her gloves.”
― Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway
Vintage gloves are not the only type I obsessively buy, I have a fast-growing collection of modern leather gloves in many colours, lengths and patterns. In the past, I wouldn’t even consider any other colour than black but I’ve converted after trying a pair in the perfect shade of red which was followed by a pair of the perfect shade of blue, yellow, you see where I’m going with this. I will not rest until I have a pair of leather gloves in the perfect shade of every colour known to a woman. I present to you all my on-growing collection of one of the most important fashion accessory of all times!