From classic cocktail and opera gloves to velvet, lace and leather evening gloves, there’s only one way to toast to your favourite night of the week – and no, it’s not with your signature frozen margarita. Already setting the dance floor alight via some very notable names in popular culture, the opera gloves for parties trend is set to be a revival like no other. In fact, according to a recent study, internet searches for ‘opera gloves’ were up 84% in the second half of 2021. So, whether you go by the name of Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Zoe Kravitz or Lizzo (or, you know, your actual name), clinking cocktail glasses whilst wearing a pair of opera gloves will soon be a very big fashion statement. Spotted everywhere from the red carpet to the SS22 ready-to-wear fashion shows (with Saint Laurent, Maisie Wilen, Richard Quinn and Batsheva all sending iterations of the accessory down the runway), they just won’t stop popping up. But, as with most trends, the opera glove’s contemporary comeback is actually the result of a glittering union between its lengthy history and the new-found, modern styling of today. Considering the cyclical nature of fashion, it’s no wonder that our current case studies are reformulating the many styles of the past. Having starred in countless shining eras of fashion, from the Roaring Twenties and Swinging Sixties to the free-loving decade of the ‘70s and the feather-trimmed iterations of the ‘90s, this ever-evolving piece is sure to be a prominent addition to your wardrobe. Not sure how? Don’t worry – we’ve scoured all four (most fashionable) corners of the internet to provide our very own guide for making opera gloves your greatest party accessory for 2022. So, grab yourself a glass of something bubbly and let’s unpack this trend revival.
Why Gloves Are Making A Comeback
Popular Culture And Influencers
Stage one of our formalwear transformation: understanding exactly where the new opera glove trend is coming from. Well, as with most modern trends, the origin is both widespread and varied. With the entire world in the palm of our (glove-clad) hand, the influence of visual media and fashion is always just a stream away – in the bath, on the bus, in the queue for the bar. Whether we like it or not, we’re always being influenced via our smartphone. And so, with Instagram influencers reaching for Y2K-inspired styles (thanks to the 2021 noughties revival) and TikTok-ers appearing in slinky silk styles (via the current Euphoria frenzy), the presence of the opera glove look in the A-list landscape is beginning to trickle into the digital world. And, as with most trends, the accumulating online presence of the almighty opera glove is bound to be the leading cause of its inevitable boom.
Of course, we can’t discuss modern media without noting the recent influx of some more traditional influences. Considering that historically, opera gloves have enjoyed a longstanding, socially-symbolic presence in the fashion industry (stretching over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, Regency and Napoleonic period, Victorian and Edwardian era, and a post-war world), the style has appeared in plenty of recent period dramas and films. Following Bridgerton, the 2019 Little Women blockbuster starring Florence Pugh, Emma Watson and Saoirse Ronan, and The Crown, there’s a lot of fun to be had in emulating the regality of an ‘idealised’ past.
The Hollywood Transformation
Synonymous with the height of Hollywood glamour, the opera glove is also a well-known stylistic trope in many a classic film – and on many a classic actress, too. Not to be underestimated as just an accessory, often the opera glove is the first thing we remember about an iconic cinematic outfit. Let’s examine the timeless image of Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Clutching at a croissant whilst dripping in pearls, it’s arguable that the opera glove is the piece that makes her outfit so iconic. Take her pair away, and Audrey is wearing just a simple black dress. Another example? Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, boasting stacks of diamonds over the top of her emblematic pink pair. You couldn’t pay homage to that image without the opera gloves – they’re a vital addition. They act as a transformative accessory to the rudimentary dress-and-diamond combination. So, what can we learn from the wardrobe psychology of our favourite flicks? Well, it seems opera gloves are used as an act of elevation. They tell us something about a character: esteemed, admired and ultimately fabulous. Oh, and unforgettable too. And who wouldn’t want to emulate that?
Who’s Reviving The Trend?
As previously discussed, the opera glove is having a bit of a moment in Hollywood and beyond. Popping up in the parallel dimensions of show business, it’s all going on. They’ve been part of many music video styling themes, adding a nostalgic twist to modern concepts. Post-Madonna and the iconic Material Girl video, they’ve enjoyed recent duets with Adele and her Louis Vuitton-ensemble for the Oh My God music video, Ariana Grande and her Barbarella-inspired purple pair in 34+35, Olivia Rodrigo and her latex ones for good 4 u and Dua Lipa for We’re Good.
A few months ago, The Fashion Awards also provided a major tell-tale sign of the upcoming accessory influx, with models Kristen McMenamy, Elsa Hosk, Winnie Harlow and Precious Lee accessorising their red carpet attire with a contemporary take on the traditional style. Boundary-breaking musical artists, such as Rina Sawayama in head-to-toe Richard Quinn and Griff in layers of Simone Rocha, appeared alongside them in their own interpretation of the trend.
Of course, even celebrities have to shop somewhere, so it should come as no surprise that the popular appearance of the opera glove is the direct result of the many designers who are currently playing around with the accessory. The SS22 shows provided a common theme between many designer portfolios: the opera glove. Balenciaga presented an extra-long style that has appeared on the arms of Kim Kardashian, Gucci featured pink, fingerless leather versions, Saint Laurent added gold hardware to its colourful pairs, Moschino sent models down the runway in kooky styles that rang true to the eccentric aesthetic of the Italian label, and Erdem showcased clean and simple monochrome versions.
In a testimony to the true star-potential of the opera glove, Rihanna (otherwise known as everyone’s very favourite style mogul) headed out in a pair of orange Prada ones — demonstrating their versatility with a playful, streetwear look that featured a basketball-style jersey, oversized jacket, matching Goyard clutch and Amina Muaddi heels. And, well, you know the saying: if it’s good enough for RiRi.
How To Style Your Gloves For Parties
Our Favourite Party-Appropriate Gloves And What To Wear Them With
So, as promised, it’s time to take everything that we’ve learnt about the opera glove craze and apply it to the most important part of this entire journal entry: you. And that’s where we come in. We don’t like to brag (much), but at Cornelia James, we’re pretty great at making gloves. In fact, we’ve been doing it since 1946 and along the way, we’ve been first-hand witness to the many evolutions of the accessory. Our wisened philosophy, oh dear reader? That there is an opera glove out there for everyone – it’s just a matter of deciphering which one is for you. For the minimalists among us, the simple harmony of a tailored silhouette and tactile fabrication is more than enough – such as our Hermione pair, realised in signature Duchess Satin, the lightweight Harriet (crafted from Swiss cotton jersey for easy-breezy glamour), the sensory appeal of the velvet Melissa or the mousquetaire-styling of Antigone’s Swarovski crystals. You could combine with a sweeping column gown for true ‘50s glamour or contrast with sharp tailoring for an androgynous, au courant approach. On the other end of the spectrum, the maximalists know that more is always more, so the dimensional addition of ostrich feathers is a signature way to amp up the drama – such as showgirl-favourites Ophelia and Ariadne. Séverine caters to the leather evening gloves look, alongside alluring mesh and lace pairs – such as Jessica, Venetia, Serena and the ballerina ‘tutu’ cuff of Melody.
Before you head off into that good night, here’s our final piece of parting wisdom for you. Firstly, the quality of your glove is imperative to really experiencing the true prestige of them. Whether you prefer satin, lace, tulle or leather, high quality construction should always be part of the novelty. Side note: as all our gloves are handmade by artisan glovemakers, who have been under Royal Appointment since 1978, rest assured that you are in very safe hands over here. Other crucial tips include making sure your opera glove is the perfect fit. For example, we’ll take two separate arm measurements to make your pair fit, well, like a glove. This stops them looking too big or small, and avoids that awkward rolling-down-the-arms look. It also helps to note that your gloves can draw attention to certain aspects of your outfit. For example, elbow-length ones will draw attention to the waist, while a full-length style can broaden your chest and shoulders. And after that, the most important part of shopping for your party pair is to simply have fun and enjoy the process – after all, we want to celebrate with you. And that’s all. So, now the hard work’s done, anyone for champagne?