Let us lend you a hand: glove etiquette

Understandably, COVID has sparked much interest and use of face masks as well as the evolving etiquette surrounding face mask use. We recently touched on mask etiquette. Many have been wondering if gloves should be worn as well. While health experts seem to go back and forth on this question, it did pique our interest of general glove etiquette. Who knows, wearing gloves may come back in vogue. If you decide to add gloves to your outfits, here are the traditional rules of proper glove etiquette that you need to know!

In the fall and winter months, we often wear gloves to protect our hands from the bitter cold. The big question we get is do you keep your winter glove on when shaking hands? While it’s perfectly proper in the U.S. to keep your gloves on, we opt to take ours off if we can do so quickly because there is something warm and inviting about palm to palm contact – we agree with etiquette maven, Letitia Baldrige. But we are certainly rethinking this during COVID! Handshakes are taking a back seat to safety.

Most of us know that you may leave your gloves on while driving (they keep age spots away) and shopping. You may also leave them on in a place of worship (as a sign of respect). But what about when you are at a genuine event and your gloves are an integral part of your outfit?

The main rule is that one does not eat or drink with gloves on. This means, you should remove gloves upon your arrival at informal parties or luncheons. Place your gloves in your coat pocket or your handbag.

You may leave them on – until you eat or drink - at outdoor festivals such as a pretty garden party or reception.

If you are attending a fancier cocktail party you may keep your gloves on. But since you are not to eat or drink with a glove on, once the drinks and hors d’oeuvres are passed you should turn your gloves back at the wrist or remove them. Put your gloves in your dress pocket or your clutch - you shouldn't carry them around in your hands.

If you’re attending a formal event where there will be dining, gently remove both gloves before you sit at the table and place them either in your clutch or on your lap (never on the table), under your napkin. If the formal event includes a receiving line, you may leave your gloves on during that time, take them off for dining and then put them back on while dancing and mingling following dinner. If someone comes up to you while your gloves are on while dancing and mingling, you would leave your gloves on to shake hands – otherwise it would indeed be an odd sight to see you constantly taking off and putting back on your gloves while on the dance floor!

One quick exception about keeping gloves on while shaking hands, when you are in the reception line (you’re the guest) at a formal function and you are about to received by the President, the First Lady, or a high-ranking religious or government official who are standing in the receiving line, you should remove your gloves.

One does not wear short gloves to a fancy gala ball. A more appropriate and attractive choice are longer gloves - elbow or opera. You know the advice, the shorter the sleeve the longer the glove. Additionally, your bracelet may be worn over your glove but your rings and watch stay under the glove.

One should never smoke, and certainly not while wearing gloves. You want to keep your gloves looking pristine – hence the rule that there is to be no smoking, eating, drinking, or card playing with them on.


Let's all look forward to the time when we will be dressing up, sipping cocktails and having a ball - with or without gloves!

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