By: Sky Joe

Gloves are increasingly becoming a necessity accessory item these days. Do you wear an evening gown to go to the supermarket? Certainly not! Nor would you wear jeans and a T-shirt to go to your parents' golden wedding anniversary. In both these instances the outfit would not be appropriate for the occasion. Nevertheless, the motto "the occasion determines the outfit" is interpreted rather loosely. This was not always the case. In the 1950s, elegant women still had to cope with a complex dress code, so that what to wear with what and when was dictated according to strict etiquette. Moreover, the criterion of what was "appropriate" applied to every detail of a woman's appearance, starting from the fingertips, in other words, the gloves.

Consequently, a well-dressed woman would have a pair of gloves to match every outfit and every circumstance. For shopping in the morning she would wear pale gray goatskin gloves, and for going out to lunch, beige kid gloves. In the afternoon mid brown peccary gloves were called for, and in the evening three-quarter length black silk gloves were worn. As well as the material and color of gloves, their fit was very important. This is why the most discriminating women usually had their gloves made to measure, such a time-consuming process that even the most extravagant haute couture addicts of today would have been impressed.

In the early part of the history of fashion, gloves were simply worn for protection. It was only in the 14th century that people slowly discovered the luxury potential of this accessory that had hitherto been considered mainly functional. But it took another 100 years before the glove became fully established as an elegant accessory and indication of a person's social rank, as it id often seen in paintings. Because men and women in the 15th century already tended to keep their receipts, people's passion for gloves is well documented in spite of a relative lack of illustrations. For instance, it is known that in the Renaissance period the upper classes paid a fortune for elegant gloves.

The refinements were accomplished by strict rules of behavior. One of these was whether a woman should hold out her hand with or without gloves when shaking hands with a man. At first it was considered fundamentally improper for both sexes to shake hands without first removing their gloves, but soon the rule changed to what it is now: the woman keeps her gloves on to shake hands, but the man must remove his. However, this rule was devised at a time when ladies wore fine, elegant gloves and ski mittens had not yet been invented. So it is now advisable that everyday winter gloves should be removed but elegant accessory models and long evening gloved should be kept on.

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