Wedding Accessories - Gloves

wedding gloves 2The wearing of bridal gloves dates as far back as the 18th century when ladies of high standing and well mannered women wore them not only for weddings, but as an every day necessity which formed part of their outfits, they were considered de rigueur even during the day.

When the romantic touches of chivalry were abundant, English men would send gloves as gifts to their true love as a symbol of their undying devotion.  If the feelings were mutual the lady would wear them to church and the gentleman would know that his love was returned.

When considering this romantic tradition of the gloves it can reinforce the symbol of wedding gloves being worn in modern day ceremonies. 

Traditionally, gloves were very much part of the brides wedding attire.  Adding grace, sophistication and elegance and would always be purchased along with the train and veil.

Today’s brides have a somewhat different perspective on choosing gloves to wear on their wedding day and although formal etiquette still recommends that a bride wear gloves as symbol of grace, many opt to do so simply to heighten the image they are presenting, or to pass on the tradition.

One of the advantages in choosing to wear gloves on your wedding day can help in keeping sweaty (ladies of course perspire) or oily fingers from ruining your dress.

Buttons on Bridal Gloves

wedding gloves 1Wedding gloves are measured in inches or buttons and classify what length they are and when to wear them, as listed below:

1 Button - Gloves that fall at the base of the palm, or just below.  These are a popular choice for those bride that wear long sleeved dresses.

2 Buttons - These gloves are called either wristlets or gauntlets can also be known as ‘shorties’ they are wrist-length and generally 8 to 9 inches long.   These were the socially required daywear gloves for women right up to the mid sixties.

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

6 Buttons - Reaching well up 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.

8 Buttons - 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.

12 Buttons - These gloves are 18-19 inches long, and reach just past the brides or bridesmaids elbow. Most 'elbow length' gloves include the mousquetaire wrist opening.

16 Buttons - Sometimes confused with the above, these are the classic opera length glove and as a general rule, the mousquetaire wrist opening is standard. 21 Buttons 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 correct etiquette for the wearing of these gloves is the ‘shorter the sleeve, the longer the glove’.

Different Styles of Gloves

wedding gloves and bagWhen choosing your gloves for your wedding dress there is four basic glove lengths and styles to choose from:

Opera Gloves - Long and climb up the length of the arm. These are wonderful accents to the sleeveless wedding dress.

Elbow Gloves - Similar to Opera Gloves, only the gloves only extend to elbow. The elbow glove offers another fairytale accent to a wedding dress with sleeves and off the shoulder wedding dresses.

Classic Gloves - Come up along the forearm, but do not quite cover the elbow. This is a more traditional glove length and works well with most wedding dress

Short Gloves - The short glove is a very slight glove that just comes up over the bride’s hand. They are extremely feminine.

Putting on your Gloves

When putting on your gloves, work in the hand from the wrist, gradually smooth the glove up the arm do not pull from the top.

If you intend to take off your gloves during the wedding ceremony, practise at home with clean hands until you can do so with a quick, classy and elegant motion.

audry hepburnClassy Lady of the 20th Century

Audrey Hepburn, a celebrated star of many films and well remembered for her roles in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and ‘My Fair Lady’ was and is still classed as one of the worlds most elegance women of the 20th century and she was rarely seen on or off screen without her elegant gloves.  This classy lady certainly knew how to turn a simple plain dress into a delightful and sophisticated outfit with her gloves and other accessories.

We have been watching film stars for many years walk up that red carpet of fame while wearing their one-off designer dresses, jewellery worth millions of dollars and most have chosen to grace their arms with the long elegant and classy look of wearing gloves, which adds dignity and grace to their stance.

In the 20’s and 30’s hats and glove were considered to be two of the most important items to have.  In a time when people didn't have as much money to spend on fashion as they do today, most women only possessed a few garments suitable as socializing or formal shopping and/or church attire. 

Bridal Accessories

Accessories such as costume jewellery, shoes and wedding handbags played a huge part in altering the appearance of their outfits and ladies who smoked would always use a cigarette holder while wearing gloves.

If you wish to accentuate the formality of your wedding, wearing gloves can certainly be one way to set the style and there is no question that the addition of gloves will add dignity and grace to your wedding ensemble. 

Gloves are made in silk, cotton, lace, leather and light-weight satin, from solid to crocheted and opaque to sheer.  A wide variety of colours and material can compliment your dress without overpowering it, and they can be plain or adorned with pearls, sequins or beads.

Etiquette Guidelines - Wedding Gloves

wedding gloves 4The tradition of when to wear your gloves is not set in stone, but etiquette guidelines recommends that your gloves should be worn while on the way to the church and all through the ceremony.  When it comes to the time of having the ring placed on your finger, many wedding gloves are now made with a tiny slit where you can slip out your finger if your gloves do not come with an opening, you can always make one yourself and have it sewn back after your wedding

Fingerless gloves are also available and this style of glove begins just above the elbow and goes down over of the back of the hand. A loop is used at a point of fabric to secure the glove to the middle finger.  If you do decide that you want to remove your gloves during the wedding service, hand them to your Maid of Honour/Chief Bridesmaid at the same time as giving her your bouquet.

Your gloves should be worn at your receiving line when you greet your guests and through your reception although this is personal preference and whatever makes you feel more comfortable. To prevent your gloves from staining and to make it a more relaxed meal for yourself, gloves should of course be removed while eating.

After the Wedding

Gloves can stored away wrapped in white tissue paper in the back of the drawer or wardrobe, but why would you want to when you could make a memory box to have on show! 

Memory boxes can be purchased empty from hobby or craft shops and you can fill them with such things as your gloves along with your garter, pieces of your table settings such as ribbons, candles and bows, your cake topper, a napkin and one of your wedding favours.  Another idea is to have them professionally stretched into a photo-frame.

Either way, it would be a lovely reminder of your very special day every time you looked at it.

Glove Traditions, Superstitions and Beliefs

Certainly gloves have been worn by brides for many years and different countries have their own belief and traditions as well as good and bad superstitions. 

In ancient Greece a bride placed a lump of sugar into her wedding glove believing that it would bring sweetness to their married life. 

In the past it was believed that if you found a glove on the road on Valentine's Day, your future beloved will have the other missing glove.

In Russia it is considered taboo to shake hands with your gloves on, no matter how cold it is.

It is unlucky to drop your glove and pick it up yourself; if someone else does it, good fortune will follow for both of you.

It is considered bad luck to give a pair of gloves to a friend unless you receive something in exchange.

Flirting with Gloves

wedding gloves 3Ladies in the Victoria era were not in the habit of flirting as we do today.  Indeed with chaperones and family all around it was hard to do so.  Fans were used in the manner of flirtation and ‘Flirtation codes’ were developed.  Some of the best knows glove signals were:

  • Twirling one's gloves around her fingers - We are being watched
  • Holding the tips of the gloves downward - I wish to be acquainted
  • Gently smoothing the gloves - I wish I were with you; I would like to talk with you
  • Holding one's gloves loosely in her right hand - Be contented
  • Holding one's gloves loosely in her left hand - I am satisfied
  • Striking one's gloves over her hands - I am displeased
  • Tossing one's gloves up gently - I am engaged
  • Tapping one's chin with her gloves - I love another
  • Dropping one of her gloves - Yes
  • Dropping both gloves - I love you
  • Turning the wrong side of one's gloves outward - I hate you

Many of these signals had to be done with the removal of one glove and of course this was not considered proper but no doubt being a lady can sometimes ‘go out the window’ when you need to get across your message.
Don’t let Gloves overpower your Dress

Gloves will help in adding grace and elegance to your wedding ensemble but remember to not let them overpower your dress.  Choose them with care and match the colours and material to enhance your dress.  If your dress is white, choose white gloves and an ivory gown would dictate ivory gloves. 

If you are getting married in the summer and still wish to wear gloves, choose some lace fingerless ones.

The most important thing to remember is that your wedding day is just that! It’s yours to choose and wear what and how you wish!