Fingerless Opera Length Gloves Resources:

Etiquette of the Glove


Thursday, December 3, 2004

Fingerless Opera Length Gloves

Etiquette of the Glove

The beauty of wearing gloves, is almost a forgotten tradition. Hear are some tips on different lengths, styles and etiquette, so that you can choose the gloves that are right for you.

What is a mousquetaire?
This is the button opening on the inside of the wrist on more traditional opera gloves. The mousquetaire allows you to take your hand out of the glove especially during a wedding ceremony to accept your ring, without the ungraceful and unsightly appearance of removing gloves in public. (Traditionally a no! no!)

Classic Opera Gloves
Unfortunately, these are not readily available in modern stores, but may be found in vintage stores or knitted by talended knitters. The real thing will be in kid leather or vintage knit.

Fingerless Gloves and Gauntlets are a 1950's style - these look great when made in the same fabric as the dress. Usually elbow length with a vee point over the hand, the gauntlet may be secured with an elastic loop that fits around the middle finger of thumb. This is also a style suitable for weddings, which does not require the removal of the glove or accessories to receive the ring.

What length should your glove be?
The length of a glove is usually expressed in 'buttons'. It is an antique French unit of measure that is slightly longer than one inch. Taken from the bottom of the thumb seam to the top of the glove, the actual length of the glove in inches is 6 to 7 inches longer than the length in buttons.

Known as 'shorties', these are wrist-length and generally 8 to 9 inches long. They were socially required daywear for women until the mid-sixties.

These gloves are 10 to 11 inches long and cover the wrist - reaching a couple of inches up onto the forearm.

Reaching well onto the forearm, these gloves are 12 to 13 inches long and a favourite for daytime wear. Most gauntlet type gloves (flared arm pieces like equestrians wear) are this length and are suited to any length sleeve and worn over the top of the outfit.

The upper forearm is where this glove reaches to, approximately 14-15 inches long. Also known as the 'three-quarter' length or 'coat' glove. These are worn tucked under the sleeve.

18-19 inches long, this glove reaches just past the wearer's elbow. Most 'Elbow length' gloves include the mousquetaire wrist opening.

Sometimes confused with the above, these are the classic opera length glove and as a general rule, the mousquetaire wrist opening is standard. Traditional colours are white, beige, taupe and ivory being suitable for all gowns.

At 27-29 inches long, this is the most dramatic length of all gloves, reaching right under the armpits. Usually only worn with strapless or sleeveless evening outfits. The shorter the sleeve, the longer the glove.

A mixture of old and new glove etiquette

  1. Traditionally, opera gloves should not be put on in public.
  2. When putting on her gloves, a lady always works in the hand from the wrist, then gradually smoothes the glove up her arm, rather than pulling from the top.
  3. A lady does not remove her glove when shaking hands
  4. A lady does not remove her gloves when presenting her hand to be kissed
  5. It is permissible to wear rings and/or a bracelet over one's glove in modern time, but classically was not
  6. Your gloves should be kept on when shaking hands in a reception line or when dancing
  7. Gloves may also be worn while drinking
  8. When you sit down to dinner, you should take off your gloves, and put them back on when dinner is over
  9. If you remove your opera gloves, you should not take them off in a way that calls undue or seductive attention to the process.

References: Modern Priscilla Manners Guide 1918, Miss Manners 1968, 20,000 Years of Fashion by Boucher 1987, Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries by Avril Hart, Susan North, Richard Davis 2003.