“See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!/O that I were a glove upon that hand,/That I might touch that cheek!” – Line 24,scene 2 Act 2 of Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
(Vintage Christian Dior Ads)
Kid Gloves were made from the skin of a young goat (a kid) or sometimes a lamb. These gloves were softer, more delicate, and finer than gloves made from cow leathers (or other hard leathers). Eventually wearing “kid gloves” and using the phrase “to handle with kid gloves” became a symbol of elegance, aristocracy, and gentility in the early 1800s. The cliche “handle with kid gloves” therefore means to be very tactful, mild, and docile. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term was first used in that sense (or written, anyway) in the 1830s.
Introducing THE WALL O’ GLOVES spotted at the 5th Avenue, Flatiron District J. Crew:
In Victorian Society, there were many rules of etiquette outlining how to properly wear gloves. In general, women were not even allowed to unbutton or remove gloves unless they were sitting down to supper. It was extremely uncouth to wear gloves that did not match one’s dress. As women were the “subordinate” gender, it was not exactly proper for a lady just to tell a gentleman directly that she wanted to be courted. Hidden “flirtation codes” were invented for use with fans and gloves so that women could say what they wanted without being overt (think about today’s body language cues of tossing one’s hair or winking). Who knew gloves, although meant to cover-up exposed skin, could be so seductive? For example:
- Twirling one’s gloves around her fingers – We are being watched
- Holding the tips of the gloves downward – I wish to be acquainted
- Gently smoothing the gloves – I wish I were with you; I would like to talk with you
- Holding one’s gloves loosely in her right hand – Be contented
- Holding one’s gloves loosely in her left hand – I am satisfied
- Tossing one’s gloves up gently – I am engaged
- Tapping one’s chin with her gloves – I love another
Now that gloves are not the style du jour, one can find them for relatively cheap prices in thrift shop bins, consignment shops, and vintage stores. Don’t worry about getting matching colors or sets. Buy as many gloves for cheaply as possible and start making your own wall creation using only staples or pins (which can be hidden inside the seem of the glove, or by layering fabrics).