Sunday, July 12, 2009

The glove...

I always try to relate the present to the past…and this week’s events surrounding Michael Jackson give me a unique transition to the glove.

On Tuesday at the weekly flea market scavenger hunt, I happened on a pile of gloves. As MJ tunes played from the boom boxes around me, I was amused about buying gloves on the day of his memorial service(no sequins in the batch though).

Everyone knows about his signature glove, but then I got to thinking where did gloves originate? Again, we go to the ancient past—the Egyptians had gloves available in the shape of bags, without finger holes and resembled a mitten. Egyptian women protected their hands during work and meals.

There are references to gloves in Homer and some of the other ancient poets, but the Middle Ages gave gloves status and power. Leather gloves were used for riding and falconry, and knights used them in ceremonies as well as throwing down the glove to challenge an opponent. If a lady gave a man a pair of gloves, it was a symbol of love.

Queen Elizabeth brought the gloves to the fashion front for women. She had over 2000 pairs, and which were looked after by a special wardrobe mistress. In fact, gloves were so popular that they were given as keepsakes to wedding guests, a tradition that continued into the nineteenth century.

After the French Revolution, the classical empire look fostered white or pastel gloves that extended past the elbow to accent the slender, high-waisted dresses of the period. Throughout the nineteenth century, gloves and fingerless mitts were essential components of a lady's wardrobe, worn whenever she went out in public. It could take half an hour to put on a pair of 16-button opera-length gloves, requiring the use of glove stretchers, powder, buttonhooks, and the nimble hands of a maid.
In modern history gloves retained their fashion importance through the 1950s. Many of the gloves in my current stash are from that period. Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and Vivienne Leigh were all known for their gloved hands.
It still creates an air of elegance to see a woman dressed with hat and gloves, but it is a rare event. Or maybe we relate it to aging now, as Jenny Joseph wrote: ““When I am an old woman I shall wear purple, With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me, And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves, And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.”
I have the summer gloves…you are on your own for the brandy!

10 comments: said...

What a darling post, I loved hearing about the gloves.

Anonymous said...

Who would have thought that you could tie Michael Jackson into an antique shop post on gloves. Brilliant!!! This could lead to a whole new fad, gloveblogging. Could turn into a new Olympic Event!! Do you have a pair that would fit the white whale?

Just a bed of roses said...

Susan, how fun to have Jacksons music blasting and then to find a bunch of gloves! I knew gloves had alot of importance in history, and never knew why until now!
Love to find vintage gloves, they always sell.
Now I will have a deeper appreciation for them. Thanks

Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

I remember wearing gloves to church and for other dress up events as a child...hats too. AND I remember my MIL and Aunties in New Jersey wearing them in the sixties...especially the Jackie O pill box hat.
You always bring back good memories!

PunkRose {Sher} said...

My mother used to buy gloves for my Sister and I when we were little girls. I so wish I had saved them! Some were very dainty, and had lots of lace. I love your informative posts Susan, I always learn something new when I come visit you here ~ I hope you have a beautiful week & lots of blessings! Sherri

Patricia said...

Susan, what a trip down memory lane. I, too, remember wearing gloves as a little girl and had a grandmother who would not set foot out of the house without a hat, gloves and her spiked high heels! I have two pair of her beautiful suede gloves. Thanks for this post, have to go look at my Nana's gloves tonight.
Patricia Rose-A Potpourri of Fabric, Fragrance and Findings

gail said...

Thanks for such a fun post again:) I like warm gloves in the cold winter, but I am so clausterphobic I couldnt wear them without going crazy. lol Please send my regards to the squirrels too:) They are very lucky they dont live here,, its 116 today and just brutal! I hope you are enjoying some beautiful summer weather.. Take care... until next week, Gail

Noelle Garrett Designs said...

Hi Susan,

What a fun post. I love looking at pictures of my mother back in the 50's wearing gloves. Sometimes I wish we still dressed up like that. Oh, and I do just love library pockets . . .always have. Is it bad that I miss card catalogs? lol

Deb said...

I love gloves.....they just seem to "dress up" an outfit. Of course, the only gloves I wear nowadays are for gardening...LOL Thanks for another nice post. :)

Pink hugs,

Anonymous said...

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Joan Stepsen
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