Interesting Fun Facts About Black Opera Gloves

Black opera gloves are long, black gloves that extend past the elbow and cover a portion of the forearm.

Traditionally opera length gloves are worn by women with evening or formal floor-length dresses. In most cases, the sleeves of the dresses tend to be short and the neckline low.

The colour of the opera glove should match (or contrast) with the colour of the dress – black opera gloves for a black strapless dress. Pure elegance!

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

Listen to opera music online

from the opera Ruslan and Lyudmila by Michail Glinka. Performed by the K&K Philharmoniker and the K&K Opernchor. Conducted by Myron Yusypovych.


Contemporary Opera Gloves Come in a Variety of Colours, Materials and Styles

Ira Malaniuk as Countess Adelaide Wearing Opera Gloves
Ira Malaniuk as Countess Adelaide Wearing Opera Gloves

Opera gloves are experiencing a revival in popularity. They are now available in many different colours, materials and styles.

Traditional opera gloves are white or ivory. At this time, black opera gloves are very popular.

Contemporary opera length gloves 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.

It used to be that all opera gloves were made of kid leather. This 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.

Most manufacturers use materials that have a small percentage of spandex (the term used in the US 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.


Why Are Black Opera Gloves So Popular?

Why Black Opera Gloves?
Why Black Opera Gloves?

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 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. Since they are embellished with embroidery, rhinestones, crystals or zippers, other embellishments in the form of jewelry, surely, are at the fashion discretion of the wearer.


Opera Length Gloves Definition

Opera Length Gloves Defined
Opera Length Gloves Defined

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 and is actually used regardless of 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.


Are Opera Gloves Mandatory at the Opera?

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

Opera gloves mandatory at the opera? 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.

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 – a favourite pastime of audiences during the 19th century.

If you attend a performance of the operetta The Merry Widow by Franz Leh?r or the opera La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi chances are you will see the female soloists and choir members wearing opera gloves during the ballroom scenes.