Your shortcut to glamour this party season… Long gloves

Your shortcut to glamour this party season… Long gloves

  • Lisa Hilton says elegant, long dinner gloves are now making a stylish comeback 
  • She cites Beyonce and Anya Taylor-Joy as glamorous examples donning trend
  • Says that they ‘feel rebellious; and are ‘a sexy corrective’ to current formal looks

At the back of my wardrobe — in a box, carefully wrapped in tissue paper — are several pairs of my grandma’s evening gloves.

Elbow-length white kid with tiny seed-pearl buttons; skin-snapping black satin; an exquisitely fine dove-grey leather, lined with pale pink silk.

They are beautiful things, seamed with almost invisible stitches, tight to the wrist with delicately tapering fingers — a reminder of a time before fashion was fast and throwaway, when precious items were cared for and kept for a lifetime.

I’d never thought of wearing them before now. But suddenly long gloves are everywhere.

No fashionable forearm is complete without them — from Beyonce in hot pink gauntlets and Anya Taylor-Joy in electric blue Jessica Rabbit-style leather at her latest premiere, to singer Dua Lipa meeting Camilla, the Queen Consort, at the Booker Prize ceremony in sheer black with a hint of Gothic heroine.

Actors Olivia Wilde and Salma Hayek have also embraced the trend in eye-catching scarlet and sparkling ombre respectively.


No fashionable forearm is complete without them — from chic Amber Valletta (right) to Anya Taylor-Joy (left) in electric blue Jessica Rabbit-style leather at her latest premiere

Peaches and cream: Big Little Lies actress Zoe Kravitz pictured at the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2020

Gloves have always been associated with formal, high-octane dressing, but the style has migrated from the ballroom to the bar, with Gen Z-ers wearing them with everything from slip dresses to T-shirts.

Once strictly ‘establishment’, gloves are suddenly fresh, playful and fun.

Historically, gloves have had a curiously double-edged reputation. As part of the required attire for debutantes at court, gloves maintained the idea that women were pristine, protected, literally not to be touched by human hand.

Early Victorian ladies whirling in the scandalous new dance, the waltz, wore gloves to thwart the intimacy of skin-on-skin contact with their partners.

Models Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid sporting ornate dinner gloves at the 2021 Met Gala in New York

As a status signifier, they advertised their wearer’s wealth. Renaissance portraits often show their subjects displaying gold-embroidered or jewelled gloves, while the kid gloves worn by grand Edwardian women frequently required a maid with a button hook to put them on.

In the 1950s, no respectable lady (including my granny) would leave home without gloves, and it was only with the explosion of youth fashion in the 1960s that they were confined to the fashion scrapheap.

And yet they are also subversively sexy. Like stockings, they eroticise what they don’t cover — the flash of skin between elbow and shoulder.

From the can-can girls of the Moulin Rouge to corseted burlesque dancers, opera gloves can be used to draw the gaze towards the breasts or naked shoulder, promising to reveal even as they conceal.

A woman in gloves and lingerie somehow looks more undressed than if she were nude — no wonder old-school striptease artists begin with the languorous, teasing peel-off of a glove.


Gloves have always been associated with formal, high-octane dressing, but the style has migrated from the ballroom to the bar, with Gen Z-ers wearing them with everything from slip dresses to T-shirts. Blake Lively (right) and Kacey Musgraves (left) pictured sporting the trned

A dash of Spice: Nicola Peltz Beckham pictured at the 2nd Annual Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Gala this year

In cultures where clothes were strictly segregated by gender, gloves could also be an exciting means of cross-dressing: 15th-century illuminations show ladies wearing chained leather gauntlets, conventionally part of male armour, to go hawking.

Fast forward 500 years and Wonder Woman is battling evil in little more than a leotard and a blow-dry, but never without her trusty gauntlets.

Gloves may be theatrical and fabulous, but until recently they felt more dressing-up-box than everyday wear.

Perhaps the (dreaded) Bridgerton effect — inspired by the Netflix costume drama — partly explains it, with younger women embracing the prim elegance of covered arms with a knowing nod to their secret raunchiness.

Actors Olivia Wilde and Salma Hayek (pictured) have also embraced the trend in eye-catching scarlet and sparkling ombre respectively

Gloves feel rebellious, a sexy corrective to all those floaty, floral, boho looks. They offer something more edgy and polished — even a whisper of danger. The trick is to find the sweet spot between Miss Whiplash and Elizabeth Bennet.

But maybe they also feel current because at present we all want to feel a bit, well, wealthier. Gloves are an easy way to update a look, adding a pop of colour and altering proportions without major expense — Zara has a beaded black pair for £19.99, while River Island’s, pink and gloriously feathered, are £22.

They’re sensual without being obvious and suit every shape and size. For many women over 40 — myself included — the upper arm isn’t necessarily an area to which we most want to draw attention, but gloves can distract the eye flatteringly elsewhere.

Try a longer glove pushed down over the wrist under a statement sleeve, or a brighter colour against a plain coat. Drawing on a glove is a shortcut to feeling ‘done’ and ready to face the world, thanks to a little bit of superheroine at the tips of your fingers.

Picture research: CLAIRE CISOTTI

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