As time passed, changes have happened in the way that products are being created and the way they are being consumed. Gloves have also experienced a shift in their roles in society. Nowadays, gloves are mainly used as a means of protection for your hands. You can see people using them when the weather is cold. When it comes to fashion, gloves became one of the accessories. They are now in the same family as the scarves, hats, and fans. Gloves are closely related to mittens and muffs.

However, what most people don’t know is that gloves used to seen as highly symbolic garments. Gloves were often worn for reasons other than protecting their hands. The changing of ways that gloves are seen only shows how the roles of clothes play within fashion’s discourse. If you follow the history of gloves, you’ll see how colorful its story is.

How It All Started: Origin Of Gloves

Since ancient times, gloves have already existed. Gloves have served decorative and utilitarian purposes during the course of history. Archeologists have discovered through the help of early cave drawings that people have worn some form of primitive gloves. In fact, remains that have been recovered in Egyptian tombs have some kind of gloves on their hands. Greeks and Romans have been found to be wearing gloves as part of their armor. During battles, they wore gloves to protect their hands and have a stronger grip. Experts have discovered that people in ancient times have made gloves out of their need of being protected.

Historians also found that gloves are sometimes worn to indicate political power and social status. Clergies wore gloves while conducting the sacraments. They show the power of their church and their high officials by doing this.

Even with all the people using gloves and taking advantage of gloves, the European gloving industry did not start to develop until the 10th century. It only then spread throughout Great Britain until the 11th century. Within Great Britain, the purpose of gloves was originally meant to be just for additional protection during wars.

In the history of gloves, only during this period, gloves were usually made of skins of animals such as sheep, deer, or cow. High ranking military officials such as knights, admirals, and generals wore protective hand coverings. These hand coverings were made out of linked iron.

Women, on the other hand, did not include gloves as part of their wardrobe until the period of Reformation. Only during the early seventeenth century that gloves were finally recognized as a fashion accessory.

History Of Gloves: Seventeenth Century

Status-oriented and fashion related purposes of wearing gloves only emerged during the seventeenth century. In Great Britain, the use of gloves was greatly confined to showcasing the wearer’s social class, wealth, and rank. The style of gloves was made to complement the highly patterned and decorative styles of these clothes that were in fashion during this period. They were not specifically made for gender and their styles can be worn by both men and women. Their decoration, shape, and color were almost the same, thus both sexes can wear them. These gloves were usually from the kidskins, sheep, and deer that comes in a natural color palette.

As the century moved forward, however, gloves became garments meant for decoration. Gloves adorned with elaborate silken embroideries of silver and gold. They are often embedded with precious stones. The style became more and more popular which also encouraged the style were fringed and patterned attachments at their wrists.

New Materials

The century saw the birth of knitted and fabric gloves. However, people did not immediately take notice of them. These gloves did not showcase the prestige and social status of a person. Decorated gloves did not have a protective or utilitarian function but were elegant, expensive looking, and fashionable. Their looks made them desirable for the elites.

The new way brought with it new ways of doing things regarding the trade of gloves. This has created a new connection between social status and gloves. That led to people developing the practice of giving gloves as methods of payment or symbolic gifts. Within courts of law, official dignitaries and judges are often given with gloves not only as signs that confirm their power but also as a form of payment for services. Their values are further increased by adding gold coins inside the glove. There are people who even add bottled perfumes to better the value.

New Practices

In this century, new attitudes towards the proper etiquette of wearing and removing gloves have emerged. One of these practices is removing your gloves when receiving objects when a judge is present. It’s considered unethical to still wear your gloves while doing so. The church, on the other hand, continues to see gloves as symbolic pieces of clothing. It became an important part of what they consider as part of a proper dress code in church.

New Horizons

The late seventeenth century witnessed the birth of women’s gloves and men’s gloves. Gloves of different colors and of elbow length became popular to the ladies while men preferred to stick with the basic style.

During this period, the rise of middle classes wearing gloves was seen. An increase in the range of styles, materials, colors, and lengths was also seen. The distinction between the style of gloves for men and women continued into the next century.

History Of Gloves: Eighteenth Century

As a result of new forms of fashionable clothes and technical advances in clothing creation, an increase of fabric and knitted gloves consumption was seen during the 18th century. Gloves became accessible to the masses because the materials’ cost has lowered. The populace gained access to the gloves because of how cheaper they become. Changes in the fashion industry and the high cost of complicated gauntlet designs resulted in the birth of shorter gloves. That style was often made with printed leather, multicolored woven cloth, and finely embroidered fabric. This type of gloves was meant to complement what’s popular at that time; lace trimmed or long-ruffled sleeves.

When the end of the 18th century was almost nearing, men no longer find gloves as an integral part of their wardrobe. They only use gloves when playing sports such as baseball. Gloves were employed when hunting, driving, or riding. The styles that emerged at that time specially catered to such activities.

History Of Gloves: Nineteenth Century

The start of the 19th century witnessed men using gloves again other than sports reasons. Throughout the early years of the century, men and women preferred gloves with simpler designs and shorter lengths. The popular choice of men and women were gloves that were mainly made of cotton, white silk, and pale-colored leather. People’s preference for short gloves was a result of the popular clothing trend of lace-trimmed and long-ruffled sleeves.

Distinction Between Men And Women

A clear separation between the different forms of gender-defined clothes started to appear during the end of the 19th century. The designs for men’s gloves and women’s gloves followed the trend of elaborate design for women and simpler design for men. Once again, women’s gloves came out as elaborately decorated fashion accessories. Specific designs meant to be worn during the day and night.

Women’s gloves were made with knitted fibers, finely printed leather, pale-colored embroidered fabric, or white silk. For men, on the other hand, plain and well-fitted designs were what’s in. They were designed to accommodate the fine tailoring that is often seen in male clothing of the early 19th century. Yellow together with navy blue, brown, and black was the popular color for day gloves for men. White stayed as the de rigueur for evening gloves.

When the end of the 19th century is almost nearing, people found it fashionable to wear gloves that were tightly fitting. Those days, they enjoyed gloves that have been specifically molded their hands’ contours. Both men and women can wear the wrist-length gloves that have been fastened with buttons. Women at that time wore buttoned elbow-length gloves as part of their evening wear. Those gloves came in different colors and various fabrics.

Social Codes

During this century, new social codes were developed. These social codes instructed people what to wear during specific day and night engagements. In public situations where you were required to wear gloves, you’d need to be seen with one unless you want to be ridiculed or censured. You also had to keep your gloves, or else it would reflect as poor etiquette. Maintaining your gloves during this period was essential. During this time, pale-colored gloves were in trend. This has resulted in people carrying spare gloves just in case the gloves they’re wearing get soiled.

History Of Gloves: Twentieth Century

The 20th century was in sharp contrast to the 19th century. Gloves’ social importance saw a gradual demise during this century. People have consumed gloves less and less, especially after the social upheaval that followed World War I. The war greatly affected the gloves market even though technological advancements made the production easier.

After The War

After World War II, people no longer see the social etiquette of how people wear gloves as applicable for the times. Gloves that were elaborately made seemed unnecessary, especially when clothes are being rationed. The design of the clothes that the masses wore became standardized. As a result, people mainly used gloves as a means of protection against the cold. Gloves have reverted to their more utilitarian role.

Companies have started produced gloves with a more practical and durable design that both men and women can wear. The colors were mainly black, navy and brown and leather gloves were generally lined with fur and wool. This style of making gloves was aimed to help people stay warm.

Trend’s Birth And Death

However during the 1950s, in the domain of women’s fashion something like a glove renaissance has happened. Gloves made with synthetic fibers gradually emerged. These gloves were made of either netting and satin and came in different colors.

Women started to wear them in a way where the gloves are closely matched or sharply contrasted to the color of their clothes, accessories, or pieces of jewelry. Unfortunately, this trend died out easily. During the 1960s, people used gloves less and less. They have worm gloves only as a form of protection against the cold. Gloves were also worn to protect their hands when working with electricity or barbed wire.

History Of Gloves

Gloves: Tradition, Symbolism, And Fashion

As I have mentioned earlier, gloves had a symbolic significance. The history of gloves is full of color, twists, turns, ups, and downs. In fact, among the pieces of clothing, gloves have so much to tell. Its has so much story to tell and you’ll surely be mystified. Let’s go and dive to the colorful symbolism, fashion, and tradition connected to the history of gloves.


Back in the day, gloves that were worn on the right were especially symbolic. It was a tradition for people to remove their gloves when coming up to a high ranking person or when going near the altar. Women at the time were to show their favor to a man by putting their gloves. They will do this before giving their hands to the men. Knights at that time would receive the improving of his position with Suzerain Glove. If a knight wants to duel, he would throw a glove to the feet of his enemy to make his challenge known.

All Over The World

In the Roman Empire, a glove of red that has been decorated with jewelry is a symbol of the empire. The Spanish dignitaries, on the other hand, do not have a right to wear gloves at church, ceremonies, and funerals in the presence of a king and Pope.

During the Great French revolution, it was hard to take off a glove. The French decide to create short gloves that covered all fingers. This is how mittens first appeared.

In the times of Old Russia, they wore mittens with a hole for their thumbs. Wealthy Russians decorated their mittens with lace, fringe, and even gold. Russian women decorated their mittens with jewelry and pearls. Knitted gold was used in making knitted mittens. In northern parts of Urals, Siberia, and Russia, people used to wear two layers of mittens at a time. Russian women sewed smart mittens using broadcloth or Morocco. They’ll embroider them with silver or gold threads. These mittens would only be worn during special holidays such as Easter.


During the 16th century, knitted gloves came out after knitted pants. However, people still found leather elegant. In the 17th to 18th centuries, embroidered gloves were what men and women wear. During the 19th century, gloves came back as part of men’s fashion. Their clothes became more solid looking while their arms are more open. Even with all these improvements, they were simpler and with no decoration. When it came to men’s clothing, only quality and cutting-out were valuable. They even kept the gloves in a special box.

At the end of the 19th century, people began using thread gloves. They became equivalent to the open-worked pants. Fingerless gloves that were higher than the elbow were in fashion as evening gloves. On the other hand, full finger gloves were in fashion as daywear gloves. During this period, women did not enjoy taking off their gloves, so they wore rings over them. Women of noble status wore white linen gloves that were up to their elbows. During this time, the materials that were mainly used for men’s gloves were Dutch leather, Swedish Leather, Lisle thread, Persian thread, kid-skin, and suede.

At the start of the 20th century, the most popular gloves for women were mainly made of goatskin. On the other hand, the best leather to be used for sports gloves was made of dog’s skin.


In the 20th century, knitted and leather gloves were added with stockinet gloves. Rich people did not appear in public without wearing gloves. The popular gloves back then were the ones that Darby production made. They have made gloves with a big button on the good leather.

During this period, women wore long kid gloves or white silk gloves at balls and parties. Civilian men wore kid-gloves while men in uniform wore suede gloves. Sweden gloves had an outer side that were made of curried animal skin’s inner side.

People wore yellow gloves when they’re hunting but wore black during funerals. People practiced wearing their gloves at home before going outside. It’s considered bad manners to put your gloves on in public.

Colorful History

The fact that even museums even collect and preserve gloves just shows how important is the role that they’ve played in our culture, tradition, and history. Gloves used to be seen as a highly symbolic piece of clothing and have been utilized to show social messages. Like any significant objects, gloves have also evolved. To simply put it all off, gloves have one of the most colorful histories. And to be frank, I don’t see them stopping anytime soon.

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