The practice of wearing gloves is a long-standing tradition that dates back as far back as the 17th century. Formal ladies’ gloves or opera gloves, as we know them today, increased in popularity during the Napoleonic period.
Ladies’ opera gloves are a formal type of glove that measures up to beyond the elbow. It was almost a norm back then for people from the upper class of society to wear opera gloves during public occasions. Until today, the habit of wearing leather gloves for opera has been carried over during formal events and gatherings..
The most exquisite leather opera gloves are made from what they call kidskin. Kidskin is a very smooth, soft, and thin type of leather. It is derived from kids or baby goats.
These baby goats are raised in such a way that their skins remain perfectly smooth. For this purpose, they are kept away from eating herbage or getting bruised.
Due to their quality, kidskin opera gloves are the most expensive opera gloves. Although there are cheaper alternatives that are mass-produced such as calfskin, satin and latex, they cannot beat the quality of kidskin opera gloves.
Traditionally, leather opera gloves are dyed white for formal occasions but nowadays other colors such as black are also increasing in popularity.
Opera gloves made with leather as we know today feature a classic design known as the mousquetaire. The name comes from the gauntlet-style gloves worn by French muskeeters during the 17th century.
As it was adopted for ladies gloves, the mousquetaire leathery opera gloves each have an opening at the wrist about 3 inches long which can be closed with buttons, usually three or four.
Styles and Designs
Classic leather opera gloves are 16-button long. Buttons are a traditional way of measuring gloves and 16-button lengths translate to about 22 or 23 inches long. There are also 12-button leather gloves which can be confused with leather opera gloves. They are commonly known as “elbow-length”.
Aside from the normal ivory, white and black colors, opera gloves can also come in other colors like brown, blue or red. Some leathery opera gloves can have decorations like pearl buttons in the mousquetaire openings.
Elegance and Beauty
Throughout history, leather opera gloves have signified elegance and class. Although in modern times, opera gloves today can also be worn casually, it was practically reserved for the upper class and royalty in earlier centuries.
Before, it was worn by royalty and women of upper society but in contemporary times, it has been resurrected into popularity by actresses. Today, leathery opera gloves still maintain that aura of grace, romance and sophistication as they are worn during formal events and gatherings.