‘Outfits to wear with our favourite gloves,’ ‘best wine pairing for Fettuccine Alfredo,’ and ‘what’s the weather like tomorrow?’ – all phrases that we have, at some point or another, searched on Google. However, there’s one thing that we’ve never needed to type in: ‘how to wear long gloves?’ The reason for that is quite simple – we’re already experts in the art of wearing opera gloves. From the etiquette rules to fabric care, we’re clued-up completely. And you can be too, with just a little help from our handy guide. But before we begin, let’s make sure we know the fundamentals. An evening glove (also known as the opera glove) is a formal and semi-formal accessory that covers the mid-arm and beyond. You can also get mousquetaire opera gloves, which have buttons to the wrist to allow your hand to easily slip out. Considering that it’s typically worn during parties, celebrations and special events, it’s made from premium fabrications such as cotton, cashmere, velvet and leather. If you want to go really in depth about the entire history of the accessory, we’ll save you the time spent buried in countless search results – you can read all about the rich past of the evening glove here. But before you head off into the past, let’s take a dive into our fail-safe guide for your future favourite accessory.
Occasion & Etiquette
First on the agenda: glove etiquette tips. Like removing your hat when indoors or following the black tie dress code, there are rules for wearing gloves. This might seem intimidating, but fear not – the opera glove is a piece to have fun in, and we’re making sure it stays that way. Ease that furrowed brow and navigate the Cornelia James list of friendly ‘dos and don'ts.’
So, where to wear opera gloves? Well, as the name would suggest, they’re best saved for your sparkly best. In fact, they actually look even better when champagne is involved. Traditionally, opera gloves would be reserved for only the glitziest of evening affairs – think formal parties and cocktail evenings, refined dinners, balls, award shows and so on. However, whilst it wouldn’t be conventional, you can of course wear your pair wherever you please. The opera glove is currently being reformulated as a modern trend, so there have been plenty of contemporary changes to its wearability – with everyone from Rihanna and Ariana Grande to Adele and Beyoncé putting their own high fashion twist on tradition.
Now let’s talk about styles. Opera gloves are usually white, ivory, beige and taupe, and if you do decide to wear a black pair, this should be with dark-coloured or bright clothing. Does this mean you can’t wear your feather-trimmed black pair with a white gown? Of course not – but it doesn’t harm to know the official rules. Speaking of styling, you’re also allowed to wear important rings or bracelets over a glove – which calls to mind Marilyn Monroe’s diamond-studded pink ensemble in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Further rules for wearing opera gloves detail the correct way to eat, drink and even remove your pair. To take an opera glove off, one should pull from the fingertip and gently slide it down. You’ll need to reverse that action to pop it back on, working them onto the hand and wrist, and then gradually smoothing the glove upwards. Gloves should be kept on when meeting and greeting fellow party-goers, but should most definitely be removed to dine (or to smoke, tut tut). In fact, if we’re being really strict, it’s also advised to remove an opera glove when drinking, so as to avoid spilling anything on your precious pair. Once removed, you should fold your opera gloves in half and put them under the napkin on your lap. However, there is a caveat to this rule if you have a mousquetaire pair. In this scenario, simply unbutton and remove your hand from the glove whilst leaving the sleeve of the glove on the arm. We know, ingenious.
As previously mentioned, the length and size of your opera glove is an important factor. Unless you’re having an experimental fashion moment, the rule of thumb is to make sure your glove is tailored to fit the arm – this avoids any awkward, oversized scrunching. In terms of length, the traditional metric measurement is 16 inches from the thumb seam (just below the wrist) and ends at the mid-upper arm. We can help you with this, as we take an individual measurement of each hand to ensure your perfect fit. But before you attempt the tape measure contortionist act, allow us to direct you to the information tab, which is where you’ll find our handy guide to evening glove sizes. Practicalities aside, there are also guidelines regarding the outfit that you pair your opera gloves with. Essentially, the shorter the sleeve, the longer the glove – this is why you’ll typically see them styled with sleeveless gowns and bandeau column dresses.
Materials & Styling
Considering the luxurious aesthetic of the opera glove, it should come as no surprise that we have a whole section on long gloves fabrics. As a baseline, we recommend choosing a well-made pair that’s cut from a premium material composition. This is for one simple reason: quality is key.
When it comes to the fabrics to wear with opera gloves, this is an exciting styling opportunity as you can play with textural contrasts. So, how to wear a dress with gloves? Well, why not start the night with dinner, a lace gown and silk mousquetaire, before changing into a satin cocktail dress and velvet opera glove for after-dinner drinks, and then finally toasting to midnight in a white feather-trimmed design and sleeveless black tuxedo dress? The possibilities are quite literally endless – but you don’t need to take our word for it, as we’ve taken the liberty of listing some of our own favourite options below.
Tactile and comfortable, there’s a reason satin is a classic. And our signature Duchess Satin is extra special, as it boasts a glimmer to the fabric – adding another dimension of luxury to the design. The classic Hermione glove is the perfect example of beautiful simplicity, but for those looking to amp up the drama, you can’t do better than Ariadne’s feather-trimmed silhouette or the Swarovski detailing on Calypso.
A timeless choice, there’s no mistaking the lustrous gleam of the real thing. Our pure silk mousquetaire designs, Theodora and Desdemona, are the perfect canvas to layer the rest of your textures and textiles. Faux fur, leather, velvet – the sartorial world is your oyster.
A dimensional alternative, the semi-sheer appearance of tulle is an alluring option that looks great with silk or velvet – and even better in a low-lit cocktail bar. Try your hand at the bewitching mesh of our Arabella style or Venetia’s flocked net, complete with bow detailing throughout.
Rich with antique elegance, lace is equal parts classic and contemporary. From the long Eliza glove, crafted from artisan lace from Sophie Hallette of Caudry, France, to the delicate fleur-de-lis pattern of Serena’s Austrian lace, this truly is a crowd-pleasing option.
As rich as midnight, velvet is the ultimate after-dark textile. Like an olive in a martini, our Melissa design is perfect with satin – forming a contrast of lustrous luminescence.
Lightweight and perfect for the warmer months, cotton is the ideal companion for basking in springtime brightness. Realised in Supima cotton, grown in California’s San Joaquin Valley and knitted into pure cotton jersey in Switzerland, Henrietta and Harriet will be your new easy-breezy favourites.
Need something shorter?
Should your outfit require it, the high-drama attitude of an opera glove can be compressed into a shorter version. Our Melody design is the perfect antidote to long-sleeved wardrobe flusters. Realised in Duchess satin to capture the true glamour of a classic opera glove, it’s carefully crafted with dimensional detailing, such as the tulle ballerina cuff and Swarovski buttons. We’ve also created a series of timeless cotton day gloves, shorter velvet styles and pure silk iterations to cover all short-profile bases.
Caring For Your Evening Gloves
So, how can you make sure to keep your beloved pair in the very best condition, even after the most fiendish of cocktail evenings? Well, general upkeep is fairly simple (unless you’ve chosen an especially delicate fabric), so you can look after your opera glove by gently hand laundering and letting it air out. Whilst it’s unlikely that you’ll experience some major wear-and-tear, you can mend a split or small hole to the seam by turning it inside out and fixing it with a few stitches. However, should you experience the worst case scenario after many, many years of wear, a major rip could even be an opportunity to customise your pair – consider adding embellishments, appliqués or trims to extend the lifeline of your accessory. And if we’ve taught you anything today, we hope it’s this passing piece of wisdom: an opera glove is for life, not just the night. Now go and enjoy a future full of apéritifs with your special pair.