Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Your Right Glove (When to Wear What Kinds of Vintage Gloves, 1947)

Good morning!

How's it going today? Construction is still underway on the third floor of the library-- I was perched at the temporary nonfiction desk yesterday afternoon, reading a bound copy of 1947 Woman's Home Companion (which I assure you, you'll be hearing more about from me soon, haha), when what to my wondering eyes should appear but this one page item, by Emily Post Institute etiquette maven Anne Kent, on a subject that has been bugging me about since I started taking mid century seriously around seven years ago.

Folks, gloves-- when do you wear them? What kind of gloves do you wear? WHERE do you wear what gloves? When do you take what gloves off? When do you leave what gloves on? THE PERMUTATIONS OF THE GLOVE DILEMMA are practically endless. Written out as I just wrote them, they sound like some foreign language grammar exercise, but it's no laughing is a Truman-era loving, but not Truman-era contemporary, supposed to suss out what goes where with what? Lucky for us, 1947 WHC has 21st century you and me covered. Check it out!

There's a flash card like guide here to three categories of advice-- "gloves on, off, or optional", "types of gloves", "lengths of gloves". Let's start with the ever mind-boggling to-me "on, off, optional":

When to keep your gloves ON:

I am wanting to be involved in each of these hypothetical situations, and secretly love that there's a sixth bullet point with nothing on it. Cue forties' era Anne Kent, EP's right hand woman in the topic of do's and don'ts in burgeoning midcentury America, saying "Leave one of the bullet points blank, I know I'll think of something I've left off before we go to press", and then never doing it. Or maybe some 1940's reader at the Carnegie Library (what the downtown branch was called before it was Ben West and before it was Main, in its Carnegie endowed original building on Polk Street) inked in their own spot. Who can say! A tea dance, by the way, is apparently "a summer or autumn afternoon or early-evening dance from four to seven...In the United States, the term has been broadened to refer to any casual afternoon dance event." Ah, bon! I was worried I didn't understand that, but it does conjure up the organza dress and sash primness I was thinking of!

When to take your gloves OFF:

I was cracking myself up thinking of how taking gloves off would be like today a lady taking her earrings off to scrap ("oh, it's ON!"), but no, actually, there are simple, social convention based rules for taking your gloves off. I am a fan of any sentence with practically synonymous verbs or nouns or adjectives (I'm from the South, where no baby is small, but "a little bitty tiny baby"; also see this to-do list's "a tune or song", which still kills me every time)-- if I am eating, am I not also munching? Think of how the woman who gives speeches at her local Junior League probably knows to take off her gloves first, though I wouldn't.

When gloves are optional:

The girl in this panel is enjoying the best of both worlds by wearing one glove and going gloveless on the other. Very proto-Michael. I guess in some situations you just have to wing it. Kind of like hats, I find, on the few occasions that I've worn short, black cloth gloves, it feels so weird to have them on indoors, or in any temperature above 50 degrees. I LOVE the Sabrina-esque neat-as-a-pin look they give some outfits I've worn, but don't like the idea of looking like I just escaped some Miss Marple's Dinner Theater stage production set in 1940.

Speaking of short gloves, HERE we go:

"With giddy little prints" is killing me. KILLING ME. Also, I would gladly borrow your 1947 glad rags here, stick girl-- saddle shoes and bobby sox and a wrap plaid skirt, sign me UP.

As for longies:

Did you know what a "two piece faille" or a "dressmakers suit" was? From this (fabulous) blog:
I envisioned what is known as a “dressmaker suit.”  Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion (3rd edition, Fairchild Publications, Inc, New York, New York, 2003) gives this definition:  “Woman’s suit made with soft lines and fine details, as contrasted with man-tailored styles that have the sharply defined lines of a man’s suit made by a tailor.  Fashionable in 1950s and revived in the mid-1980s.
I've had the pleasure of googling those terms and adding to my list of mid century clothing vocabulary. Ugh! Do you have any idea how long I've called either just "1960's suit" when that is not at all appropriate? For shame, Lisa.  I had a little more trouble pinning down the previous, but it appears to just be a more narrowly tailored women's two piece suit, nipped at the waist and with or without peplum. I can just see fifties' Dietrich wearing a charcoal grey suit like this with black long cloth gloves and a black wool hat ((as the clouds part, and angels sing)).

Now, how about materials:

Which material goes with which:

Well! I think that about covers it! Now if I catch any of you out on the street with your wrong gloves, don't worry, I'll have these laminate panels in my faux crocodile black trapezoid purse to harass you with slash inform you, haha. I certainly think this was an edifying experience for me, and I hope you, too! It's hard to get vintage things "right" some times without the intuitive cultural knowledge women would have had back then, but never fear, I'll keep digging up artifacts like this to keep us on the straight and narrow.

How about you? Where do you wear vintage gloves? Which of these seems the most obvious/obscure use of gloves? Do you remember your mom or your grandmother's way of wearing certain accessories? Share your knowledge!

I have to get going--this dang blogger ate my post AFTER it was posted, which was some kind of Poltergeist like experience for me, let me tell you, and I have dinner to cook now that She Was a Bird has been set to rights! Have a great Wednesday night, and we'll talk soon. Later, gators!


  1. You are amazing! I freaking love this post! I bookmarked it! I love all this info! I always wondered how to wear them. This is brilliant and now of course I need that book hehehehe xox

    1. Ha, thank you, Daffny! I needed to know this info, too, and I couldn't believe it was just on this easy-to-use chart. Now, to get back into gloves...

  2. "Proto-Michael" LOL

    I love those old Women's Home Companions and have a few from the late 40s. This is the cutest infographic. I knew the ins-and-outs of glove wearing because there's quite a comprehensive explanation in Etiquette, but I don't remember whether Emily Post goes into distinctions between different fabrics. My dad and I started going to estate sales in the late 90s when gloves (and furs) were abundant and relatively cheap. I have a bit of a stockpile.

    1. Oh! To have those glory days return! I'll have to re read my old EP, to think the info was right there under my nose! :)

  3. OH MY GOSH! THIS IS JUST WHAT I'VE BEEN NEEDING. this answers so very many questions.
    THANK YOU!!!



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