A Man’s Guide to Gloves | What To Look For When Buying A Glove | Winter | Dress | Sports
After a 20 mile march in the snow, a man gets frostbite on his hands.
A baseball player loses grip of his bat mid-swing and knocks out his teammate.
What do these men have in common?
One would’ve provided protection.
The other, function.
Gloves have served a purpose for men for centuries.
Archers would use them for protection in battle.
Kings would adorn their hands to express royalty.
But how should we wear them today?
This article is going to cover the different styles and uses of men’s gloves.
What To Look For When Buying Gloves
The most expensive gloves you will buy are the ones you never wear.
When making your purchasing decisions, it’s important to take the function, protection, and personal style into account. If it can fit into all three categories it will provide value no matter how much money you spend.
Let this article act as a buying guide to help you make a smart decision.
How Should A Man’s Glove Fit?
Glove sizing can be difficult.
Although expensive, the best option is to have them custom made.
Gloves that only have one size are usually based on the width around the knuckles. Gloves that add a “long” or “short” to their sizes have taken into account the width as well. Most companies will have a sizing chart online.
You want the closest fit you can have without straining the material. A loose glove that slides back and forth won’t hold warmth nearly as well. You also need a length that fully covers the wrist, far enough up that you can tuck it completely into a coat sleeve.
Types of Gloves For Men
Gloves don’t categorize quite as neatly as suits. Outside of costume design (which has a historical focus), there isn’t widely-recognizable terminology.
Most men will broadly lump gloves into “dress” and “sport” options. The former is darker and generally leather; the latter is thicker and made from any number of materials.
Generally speaking, however, gloves can be categorized into three different styles:
- Dress Gloves
- Casual Gloves
- Functional gloves
Dress gloves work well with a business suit (or something, even more, formal) and a long overcoat. Functional gloves are great for their designed purposes, but not really style items. For everything in between, you’ll want a casual pair.
1. Men’s Dress Gloves
Your basic dress glove is plain black leather, tight on the fingers and straight-sided. Lambskin, kidskin (from young goats), and calfskin are the most common materials.
Because the world would be a boring place if everyone wore plain black gloves, there are a number of details and variations that have made their way into even dressy styles of gloves:
- Points are raised lines of stitching on the back of the glove. Most dress gloves have three, splayed out in a widening angle toward the knuckles. They are a harmless way to add a little visual interest to the glove. The points should be kept straight and fine for dress glove without much added bulk.
- Cuffs are a band of material below the wrist, often lined with a separate material from the rest of the glove. In dress gloves, cuffs should be limited to dark fur, not contrasting sharply with the color of the leather. Avoid anything with a tube-like inner cuff made from synthetic materials that stick out beyond the wrist of the glove.
- Linings are a sensible way to add insulation, and common in most gloves. Dress gloves are kept as thin as possible through the use of lightweight, compactable liners like cashmere and rabbit fur. Lightweight synthetics are also used these days, but should be entirely interior and hidden from view to keep from “cheapening” the look.
- Fourchettes are long panels that run up and down the sides of the fingers. Dress gloves usually omit them or make them the same color as the rest of the glove. In rare cases, they may be a slightly offset color or a different texture. The “two-tone” effect is more casual which is acceptable for evenings out in a nice suit and coat, but not really for business attire during the day.
- Quirks are small, diamond-shaped panels at the base of the fingers. They are used to customize the fit which shows signs of a hand-made glove. This has led to some mass-produced gloves adding them as a decorative feature. It’s supposed to make the glove look fancier but authentic ones will be done well enough as to be almost invisible unless someone looks closely at the base of the fingers.
- Vents are small, triangular notches at the base of the glove. They allow a bit more flexibility at the wrist which is important in a close-fitted glove. Most dress gloves will have one at the base of the palm. Because they angle up into the body of the glove, however, make sure the gloves are long enough that all of the vents fits beneath your coat sleeve otherwise, you have a triangle of bare skin exposed to the cold.
Other details like zippers, snaps, “strap and roller” bands and the like are better left to your casual and sports gloves. The goal of the dress glove is simplicity.
They don’t have to be devoid of all character. A bit of fur trim or a few decorative points are just fine. But as with all efforts toward elegance, simplicity is key.
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2. Men’s Casual Gloves
This is a neglected category.
Most guys own one functional pair of gloves but adding a second pair of allows for some interchangeability.
The idea of the casual glove is to have something that isn’t black. Brown is always the best alternative since it matches the most common casual shoes.
Several options have become well-regarded among sharp dressers over the years:
- Colored leather gloves that break away from both black and brown can be a nicer casual. Dark shades like burgundy and forest green have a rich elegance that are leisurely while more vivid tones like bright red and lemon yellow are playful and flashy.
- Pigskin gloves have the same bumpy texture as a football, smoothed and softened. The toughest versions are work wear, but fine pigskin is a perfect accompaniment to casual jackets and sweaters.
- Suede has a soft knap that makes it look more relaxed than smooth leathers. It’s another good choice for pairing with casual sports jackets, especially in brown or a soft color like lavender.
- Wool gloves are generally considered informal, but a pair of thin wool knits can come in handy in colder weather. They are an excellent addition for function and add subtle style to your outfit since they aren’t too loud of an item. Stay away from the big fuzzy knits as they are more underdressed.
The casual formality opens options for decorative and functional features. Snaps, zippers, large decorative stitching, two-tone fourchettes, and fingerless gloves can all be worked into a sharp casual outfit. Additionally, many come with small conductive patches on the fingertips so that the wearer can use a cell phone without taking off his gloves.
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3. Men’s Functional Gloves
The final category here doesn’t bear too much discussion for decorative purposes.
Functional gloves are exactly what the name suggests: functional pieces of equipment. Buy the ones that get the job done.
Fit and function are the most important features to focus on.
For example, a boxer needs to protect his hands.
A surgeon needs precision and accuracy. Latex gloves allow dexterity and sterilize the environment.
A reservoir engineer needs to protect his hands from chemicals that could leak.
Functional gloves have several different fabrics and functions:
- Material Protective Gloves – These protect from temperatures, burns, and sharp objects. They are heat and cold resistant and cover the hands from and shrapnel that may fly off from and manual labor work. Leather and canvas are best if the hands will be submerged in hot or cold temperatures for a long time period.
- Weather Protective Gloves – These gloves protect your hands from the elements around you. Hikers, mountain climbers, skiers, and people who live in cold climates will use these most often. They are usually lined with fleece on the inside and have some sort of leather or synthetic weather protective layer on the outside.
- Sure Grip Gloves – Thier main purpose is traction. They keep the hands from slipping on anything you’re holding onto. They also provide protection against minor issues like abrasions, chafing, and dirt. Construction workers use these for gripping tools and pipes while still protecting their hands.
- Chemical And Liquid Resistant Gloves – made from different kinds of rubber. The most common are butyl, neoprene, latex, and nitrile. Each one serves a purpose whether it be sterilization, corrosion protection, or resistance from acids, oils, and greases. Chemical engineers, scientists, cooks, and doctors are all people who would need these.
- Fingerless Gloves – Besides making a fashion statement why would a man wear fingerless gloves? Wearing gloves can lower the dexterity of the digits, but having openings allow for the fingers to have a full range of motion while still keeping your hands warm. Motorcycle riders need to squeeze their brakes, hunters need the dexterity to pull the trigger, and weightlifters need to protect their hands while still gripping the dumbbells.
- Sports Gloves
- Hunters – use fingerless gloves for warmth and finger function.
- Archers – use gloves to protect their wrists and fingers.
- Hockey Players – wear gloves for warmth and protection.
- Golfers, Baseball Players, and Football Players – wear gloves for grip.
- Weightlifters– wear gloves for protection and grip.
- Boxers – wear gloves to protect their hands and wrists.
- Racecar Drivers and Bicyclists – wear gloves to have full control of the breaks and steering wheel.
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How many pairs should a man own all together? It depends on his needs. Some hands-on laborers may have three or four pairs of work gloves for a specific task.
Overall, it’s always worth owning a pair of sturdy winter gloves that will hold up in any weather, plus a pair of dark leather dress gloves that can go with suits and overcoats.
The third pair of casual gloves probably isn’t a life necessity. But it is awfully nice to have…