Thursday, April 26, 2007


All the talk about hats made me think about gloves, from a purely historical and anthropological point of view, of course. Unlike head-coverings, there was never anything in canon law about ladies having their hands covered in church, although there were some ecclesiastical traditions for certain clerics. Nevertheless, in the old etiquette books, hats and gloves usually went together, although hats were never worn with evening gowns. Many ladies and little girls still wear gloves at weddings, First Communions and other formal events, but until the early 1960's they were always worn in church and even while shopping. Here is what Emily Post says about gloves in her 1952 Etiquette:

Always wear gloves as well as a hat in church, and also on the street in a city. Always wear gloves in a restaurant, in a theater, when you go to lunch, or to a formal dinner, or to a dance. Always take them off when you eat. The question of length and color is one of transient fashion and personal taste.... A lady never takes off her gloves to shake hands, no matter when or where, and never apologizes for wearing gloves when shaking hands. On formal occasions she should put gloves on to shake hands with her guests when when she is hostess--and keeps them on when she is in turn a guest. Always wear gloves when standing in a receiving line. The one time she does not shake hands when wearing gloves is when they are are riding gloves or earth-stained gardening gloves, which might smudge the fresh gloves of a friend.

Gentlemen, of course, would always remove their gloves when shaking hands with a lady, according to the old rule. It is interesting how things change. I wonder why everyone stopped wearing gloves? For those who may be interested in the "dos and don'ts" of glove-wearing, there is a lot of colorful information available concerning glove etiquette and history.


Warren said...

Audrey Hepburn... Sigh. What a lady.


elena maria vidal said...

Yes she was.

Anonymous said...

Gloves are used very much in Spain even now. The female personnel of the Spanish airline company Iberia wear gloves as they welcome the passengers. The gloves are removed when they demonstrate the safety routine and then they don them again at landing. It is very elegant and feminine.

oh, and I absolutely agree. Audrey Hepburn was the most elegant woman of the 20th century.

elena maria vidal said...

I was last in Spain many years ago but I found the Spanish ladies to be elegant and beautifully dressed, for the most part.

Anonymous said...

I was there twice in the past two years and they are still very elegant and feminine. The people take long walks in the evening dressed in their Sunday best even on weekdays. It's almost a national pastime, as it is here in Italy.
I once had American friends visiting me and they were amazed that families were taking leisurly walks at sunset, instead of sitting home, watching tv or surfing the net. It's a good way to live, really. Of course we have the same stressful lives as people in all western countries, but in Europe it's very important to enjoy these little moments of respite as well.

elena maria vidal said...

I love Mediterranean culture.

Anonymous said...

When I was a girl we had to wear gloves to all social events. The last time I wore gloves for a social event was my wedding day. After that I threw the custom aside as an inconvenient formality, but alas, so many of my generation disposed of those inconvenient formalities that made life more genteel. We are now paying the price.

Michelle Therese said...

I lived in Sicily for four beautiful years and I've missed it ever since.

I love gloves!! Hmmm...maybe I should get a pair... I'm already wearing hats so why not! hehehe!

(Where does one find affordable gloves? And what style does a married woman wear?)

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, gloves are fun! I get mine at antique stores but there are lots of retailers that have them new. It really depends on the occasion. Short gloves and elbow length gloves are for Church or a semi-formal daytime event. The high opera gloves are for evening dress or a wedding gown.