Interesting Fun Facts About Opera Gloves – Black, White, Leather…

Opera gloves are long formal evening gloves. Many people don’t realize that long opera gloves are the same thing as opera length gloves.

Black opera gloves – including black velvet opera gloves and black leather opera gloves, are very popular today. But, white opera gloves are the traditional vintage opera gloves.

Interestingly, today, we are experiencing a great interest in leather opera gloves – whether in black or white leather opera gloves.

Today, brides, bridesmaids, debutantes, famous opera singers, pop singers, stage performers, burlesque dancers, drag queens, goths… might wear fingerless opera gloves or lace opera gloves. The variety is huge, colourful and fascinating.


Discover Fun Facts About Opera Gloves


Listen to opera music online

Listen to opera music online as you discover interesting fun facts about opera gloves.

The above audio recording is the Overture to the opera Ruslan and Ludmila by Michail Glinka (1804-1857). Recorded LIVE at the Neuen Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany, it is performed by the K&K Philharmoniker and the K&K Opernchor and conducted by Myron Yusypovych.


Contemporary Opera Gloves – Black, White…

Originally, this page was about black opera gloves. But, that was 7 years ago. Since then, fashion has evolved.

Opera gloves are experiencing a revival in popularity. And, today they are available in many different colours:

  • opera gloves in champagne (a light pink-yellow colour),
  • gray or grey opera gloves,
  • blue opera gloves,
  • green opera length gloves,
  • brown opera gloves,
  • yellow, silver opera length gloves,
  • gold opera evening gloves,
  • orange opera gloves (striking?),
  • red opera length gloves,
  • pink (and even) hot pink opera gloves!,
  • purple evening opera length gloves,
    and of course – black opera gloves.

Did you know that traditional opera gloves are white or ivory – not, black? At this time, however, many people are more familiar with black opera gloves.

Ira Malaniuk as Countess Adelaide Wearing White Opera Gloves
Ira Malaniuk as Countess Adelaide Wearing White Opera Gloves/span>


Leather, Satin, Velvet… Opera Gloves

It used to be that all opera gloves were made of kid leather, which is a very fine and delicate leather from specially reared, milk-fed goat kids. Incidentally, the term “kid gloves” come from this technique of making gloves.

Today, opera gloves are made from a variety of materials:

  • leather opera gloves are popular (especially black leather),
  • satin opera gloves (again, especially black satin),
  • cotton opera length gloves,
  • silk opera gloves,
  • white and black tulle opera gloves,
  • white and black lace opera length gloves,
  • velvet opera evening gloves,
  • vinyl opera gloves.

Contemporary opera gloves manufacturers use materials that have a small percentage of spandex (the term used in the USA and Canada) and elastane (as the fibre is known in Europe). With spandex, the opera glove fits snugly on the fingers and arms. As a result of spandex /elastane technology, the style of the opera glove is also very varied today.

Opera gloves can be crocheted or knitted. The fingerless opera glove is very popular with today’s young people. Gothic features include black opera gloves with lace details and satin strings. Gauntlet opera gloves have an additional flared arm piece that can fit over the sleeve of a dress or jacket. Zippered opera gloves are often made of thicker leather and allow the user to have a nice snug fit. Of course, all opera gloves can be decorated with embroidery, rhinestones and crystals.

So, the materials used to make opera gloves, be they black opera gloves, or the full range of colour – are not limited to leather, satin and velvet.

La traviata Banquet Scene with Opera Gloves
La traviata Banquet Scene with Opera Gloves


Opera Length Gloves Definition

Opera gloves are gloves that extend from the fingers and up over the arm. They cover the elbow and at least part of the upper arm.

A curious way of measuring the length of a glove is the “button”. This is a French measuring system. It doesn’t matter whether the gloves have buttons or not.

  • 2 button gloves are a short, wrist-length glove.
  • 4 button gloves cover the wrist and part of the forearm. This is the popular short glove often referred to as a driving glove.
  • 6 button gloves extend up the forearm. This is the glove most women choose for winter weather.
  • 8 button gloves extend from the fingers to the elbow. This type is often called the three-quarter length or coat-length glove. Currently, this glove is gaining in popularity since it can be worn with three-quarter length jackets and coats.

Opera length gloves are any glove that extends from the fingers to above the elbow.

  • 12 button opera gloves extend from the fingers to just above the elbow. Sometimes they are referred to as the elbow-length glove.
  • 16 button opera gloves extend from the fingers to the middle of the upper arm. This is the classic opera glove.
  • 21 button opera gloves extend from the fingers to the very top of the arm, up to the armpits and shoulder. This opera glove is frequently worn with strapless or sleeveless evening gowns.

A Definition of Opera Length Gloves
A Definition of Opera Length Gloves


Why Are Black Opera Gloves So Popular?

Black opera gloves are made from leather, vinyl, velvet, tulle, lace… There are fingerless, crocheted, knitted, zippered black opera gloves. In short, opera gloves in black are popular in the full range of materials and available styles.

The colour black is popular in fashion because some people think that it makes the wearer appear thinner and taller. Indeed, white opera gloves can actually make your forearms look heavier, while black opera gloves will make them seem slimmer and longer.

Jewelry (rings, bracelets and watches) when worn over black gloves – is very striking. There are, of course, fashion purists who claim that wearing rings, bracelets and watches over gloves is not appropriate.

Black opera gloves are a glamorous accessory. Whether they are embellished with embroidery, rhinestones, crystals or zippers, other embellishments in the form of jewelry, surely, is at the fashion discretion of the wearer.

The Merry Widow at the Lviv Opera House
The Merry Widow at the Lviv Opera House


Are Opera Gloves Mandatory at the Opera?

Opera gloves mandatory at the opera? In today’s world?!? Absolutely NOT!

Of course, during the Napoleonic era (1799 – 1812), the Victoria era (1837 – 1901) and the Edwardian era (1901 – 1910) going to the opera meant dressing up in very formal evening clothes. Part of the cultural norm of the day dictated that all women had to wear opera length gloves.

If you attend a performance of the operetta The Merry Widow by Franz Lehár (1870-1948) or the opera La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) and it has been staged in the traditional style of the day, chances are you will see the female soloists and choir members wearing opera gloves during the ballroom scenes.

Black Opera Gloves on Stage
Black Opera Gloves on Stage

Today, you will rarely (if ever) see anyone wearing opera gloves to the opera house to attend a performance. Most audience members prefer to dress elegantly but comfortably, so they can enjoy the opera performance. Today, we tend to spend more time consulting the opera house seating chart deciding where to sit, rather than examining what the audience is wearing.

Although, someone wearing black opera gloves would probably catch our attention!

text by: Oksana A. Wynnyckyj-Yusypovych


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