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Wearing Gloves: Matching the Gloves to the Dress

Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2001

Sleeveless or Spaghetti Straps
A long glove, either elbow- or opera-length, lends itself to a slim, bare dress. For a less formal look, perhaps for an outdoor summer wedding, shorties or classic-length gloves can be worn.

Long Sleeves
With a covered arm, wrist-length gloves are an option, although you may find that bare hands look better. If the sleeves have bead embroidery or wide cuffs, omit the gloves; they will only detract from the dress.

Be Consistent
To give the wedding party a unified look, your bridesmaids should all wear gloves of the same length, but they needn't match yours. If you choose opera-length gloves, your attendants should wear elbow-length ones or a shorter style, depending on the length of the dress sleeve.

Ball Gown
Off-the-Shoulder or Strapless
Long gloves give an elegant, formal look to a ball gown and draw attention to your arms, especially with bare shoulders. For a more subtle effect, wear shorties, as Jacqueline Kennedy did at her outdoor wedding in Newport, Rhode Island.

Long-Illusion Sleeves
It's better to keep hands bare than to weigh down sheer sleeves with gloves.

Mix Modes
If your gown is elaborately detailed with beads or embroidery, stick to simple kid gloves. If it's a pure froth of tulle or satin, you can wear more elaborate gloves, perhaps in lace or with a bit of decoration, such as a silk flower or a crystal trim.

Sleeveless or Small Puffed Sleeves
This classic high-waisted style, introduced by Empress Josephine in the early nineteenth century, looks elegant with elbow- or opera-length gloves. For a formal winter wedding, opera-length gloves provide warmth and flair. For a summer garden wedding, shorties are fresh and light, and will give an empire gown a daintier, less formal look.

Take Ideas From Film
Period films like "Emma" and "Sense and Sensibility" offer ideas for pairing empire gowns with gloves. Sarah Bernhardt and Lillian Russell, who greatly influenced fashion during the 1880s, were among the famous glove wearers of their day.

If the dress is short and the wedding is informal, classic six-button gloves or shorties are appropriate. For a longer, more formal dress, elbow-length gloves can be worn. A fashion-forward bride can pair her gown with a colored glove, perhaps an ice-blue or a lilac that coordinates with her bridesmaids' dresses.

Three-Quarter Sleeves
Wear a wrist-length glove or leave your hands bare to avoid detracting from the sleeve.

Flatter Your Arms
If you have short arms but love the look of a long glove, choose an elbow-length pair rather than opera-length. If you have heavy arms, gloves will call attention to them, rather than camouflage them. Stay away from gloves that cut your upper arm at its heaviest point.

Suit Jacket with Skirt
Gloves should be classic and simple. Forget wide cuffs and embellished trim.

Long Sleeves
Either shorties or classic-length gloves are appropriate. If your suit is long and tailored, gloves make the ensemble more formal. If the suit is short and the wedding is informal, a pair of short white kid gloves looks lovely. Or you can skip gloves entirely.

Three-Quarter Sleeves and Shorter
Classic-length gloves look best.

Color Counts
If you are wearing gloves, match them to your suit or choose a complementary color. If you are wearing a white suit and white kid gloves, it isn't necessary for them to match, but they should harmonize. Leather can be worn year-round, but save velvet gloves for winter.

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