Articles of History: Gloves

Most people now days when you mention gloves, think of mittens, gardening gloves or something you would wear in the wintertime to keep your hands warm. Gloves actually have a fascinating history and were once one of the most important parts of a young woman’s wardrobe.

Circa 1840 Parisian Milky White Kidskin Gauntlet Gloves with Silk Embroidered Pink Floral Embellishments.               Vintage 1950's embroidered eyelet pink gloves.                 Late 18th or early 19th century, Europe - Pair of women's gloves - Silk plain-weave with silk embroidery

Wearing gloves reaches back all the way to the time of the Romans and Greeks when people wore gloves while gardening and soldiers wore gloves during war and in battles. It was not until the Middle Ages that gloves began to be seen and worn as a fashion accessory. Like with hats and bonnets, a whole industry developed in the Middle Ages around the making of gloves and a guild was created for those who made gloves. During the Edwardian and Victorian eras, gloves became a very important article of clothing for a young woman and whole codes of etiquette and conduct were developed around when, how and what kind of gloves to wear. There were just as many styles of gloves as there were dresses in a ladies wardrobe!

Gloves have been made out of every kind of material known to man. At different times throughout history one type of material may have been popular and then fell out of fashion for another type of new material. Gloves could be knitted or crocheted out of wool, cashmere or cotton yarn. Leather gloves were and still are very popular. Linen, cotton, silk, velvet, kid, fur, suede and even lace have been used in the making of gloves. These were often decorated with embroidery, beads or even jewels. One of the most interesting trends involving gloves happened in the early 1600s. Perfumed gloves became very popular. To perfume gloves, animal fat or oil (such as almond oil) was mixed with flower essences and then the gloves were rubbed with this mixture and allowed to dry. All manner of herbs were used to scent gloves from violets to myrtle, cloves or cedar wood! Gloves could also be perfumed by dusting them with a scented powder.

Crocheted Gloves

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