Opera gloves were first seen in the late 16th century and early 17th century. In 1566, Queen Elizabeth I of England sported a pair at an Oxford ceremony. Queen Mary II, in 1690, sat for a portrait wearing her opera gloves. Stories tell of Napoleon owning more than 240 pairs of gloves, although they don't tell us if they were all opera gloves. Both he and his wife wore a pair at their coronation, and the public soon followed suit. Opera gloves, during this time, were made from a variety of materials. A color could be found to coordinate with every outfit. Until 1825, these gloves remained popular before they took a 50 year hiatus.
Opera gloves of today mimic those worn in France in the 17th century. Named after the glove worn by the Three Musketeers, these gloves obtained the name the mousquetaire. Originally designed to be worn on only one hand while dueling, these opera gloves and cool gloves ran between 19 and 23 inches long. Common colors included black, colored white and ivory. All were made from kid leather with a leather opening at the wrist. The opening closed with either a snap or three buttons. When adapted for women, these opera gloves extended above the elbow.
The popularity of these gloves continued through the 19th century. During the Edwardian period, this fashion hit its peak. Women continue to wear them to this day. They are appropriate for every occasion, from weddings to funerals. Many have been buried in a pair of opera gloves!
Hot pink satin opera gloves combine naughty and nice in one style. Perfect for a romantic evening or costume ball, these gloves are full length. Peach satin opera gloves are appropriate for spring and summer events while those who love the outdoors may opt to go with forest green opera gloves.
Opera gloves are to be worn when greeting guests, offering a hand to be kissed or dancing. Take them off before eating though to keep them clean! When dining, hide them in your lap, and never wear black with light-colored clothing.