When it comes to selecting an outfit, it's safe to say that gloves are not high on the agenda. Sighting the perfect pair of sumptuous leather trousers; the most versatile summer dress; the ideal tote that marries practicality with style: it is such stuff that sartorial dreams are made of. Gloves? Nu-uh. "Oh, I've just found the most gorgeous pair of gloves on net-a-porter", said No-one. Ever.
Alas, gloves do not fuel such flurries of excitement in the hearts of females. It is a lamentable state of affairs. Gloves are under-rated, and it's time they made a come-back.
Gloves are so much more to hands than socks are to feet. A mislaid sock is a perennial thread in the web of wardrobe nuisances, but, classically, a mislaid glove is suffused with poetic symbolism. There is even something vaguely poignant about it, for the glove is an encasement for our hand, and what other outer garment is so full of intimacy?
Think back to bygone days when the process of courtship and falling in love was a somewhat restrained affair: the gentleman discovers a single glove belonging to his love; the glove that she wore when she hurriedly penned a letter, wiped a crumb from her mouth, and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. She, perhaps out of reach, unattainable, either mistakenly lost it, or even intentionally left it behind. But with his finding it, then they are connected; they each have a missing half: for one glove is useless without the other.
It's like when Prince Charming picks up Cinderella's solo glass slipper at the ball... But gloves are infinitely more tender. While shoes are terse and fixed in their shape, gloves are soft and malleable; they can be caressed and squeezed; they crumple and retract when we hold them in the palm of our hand. A lost glove has pathos; a lost shoe less so, and a lost sock: definitely not.
But while gloves' heyday of sentimentality might be over, there is certainly still room for them in our stylistic repertoire.
Karl Lagerfeld has adopted the fingerless, cutaway leather glove as staple feature of his uniform. Take heed, though: unless you are the man himself, wearing this variety of glove leaves you at risk of looking like a murderer, or a pervert; or both; the two tend to go hand in hand (pun intended).
Full finger-length leather gloves, on the other hand, (I'm sorry - the dextrous puns are hard to resist), evoke panache while being far more accessible. Kid gloves used to be an essential part of a refined outfit, and aesthetically they still have a lot to offer. Worn with contrasting sumptuous, textures, such as cashmere and fur, they manage to pull a look together while sending out fairly strong "Don't mess with me" vibes.
Try playing with layers and wear gloves with a white t-shirt. The equestrian evocation is playful, but also seductive (there seems to be a covert call for a whip with such an outfit). Full-length gloves are harder to pull off - but not impossible. But it needs to be done with aplomb, not half-heartedly. And if you do, try and channel louche 1920s flapper girl, rather than prim 1950s debutante. Sexy is always preferable to prim.
Mittens are cute, and cosy; although somewhat impractical, in mid winter they definitely have their place. Fingerless mittens, (fingerless gloves are a just bit too Fagin-esque), however, are my personal favourite. They do a superb job and elongating the arm and add the kind of insouciance that Parisians do so well. Brora do an excellent iteration.
Ignoring gloves is like failing to garnish your food. Gloves add flair and flourish, and are a less obvious accessory. We pay attention to jewellery, sunglasses, belts and scarves, while gloves are left out in the cold. What they should really be doing is protecting our hands from the cold, while enhancing our style.
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