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Wearing Gloves: Modern Uses

Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2001

In the twentieth century, women wore gloves of every length, texture, and color, not just for luncheons and church but also for such practical activities as gardening and driving. During World War II, fabric restrictions led to a vogue in short gloves, as well as woolen ones women knitted themselves. The fifties, a decade of circle-pin-and-shirtwaist conformity, were the golden era of gloves. Classic white ones were worn with everything. Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and other stars of that era wore gloves on screen and off; Hepburn's 1957 film "Funny Face" is a virtual primer for wearing gloves.

Gloves became optional as wedding attire in the laissez-faire sixties, when bare feet occasionally peeped out from beneath an ivory silk hem. While gloves are still appropriate for all but the most casual weddings, they are no longer considered necessary, and wearing them is a matter of preference. The style of gown and type of wedding should govern the decision. In general, the longer the sleeve, the shorter the glove; conversely, a sleeveless or strapless dress would call for longer gloves. Similarly, an elaborate gown would take simple, unadorned gloves, and an understated silk sheath could be paired with embroidered gloves. Of course, this is all a matter of personal choice. Jacqueline Kennedy wore wrist-length gloves with her voluminous taffeta gown; Carolyn Bessette accessorized her minimalist crepe slip-dress with opera-length gloves pushed down to gently bunch at the elbow.

Often, a bride forgoes gloves because she is nervous about extracting her hand for the ring ceremony. The easiest option is to unstitch the seam of the ring finger so you can slip your finger out; tuck the dangling empty finger back inside the glove. You can also remove the glove entirely and pass it to your maid of honor.

By choosing to wear gloves, a bride is marking a ceremonial day. Like the veil and the bouquet, gloves are a statement of the significance of the ritual.

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