|Lady and the Veil by Alexander Roslin 1768|
Fingerless gloves - often called mitts - were popular in Colonial America. Generally made of kid leather or silk, lace was sometimes used in the hotter climates or seasons. The gloves would cover the hand and wrist, perhaps even the forearm.
While certainly a fashion statement among the upper classes, who adorned them with embroidery and pearls, these mitts were also functional. Colonial houses were notoriously drafty and difficult to heat. Mitts allowed for warmth while keeping the fingers free to move. Some were true gloves with the finger tips missing, while other were more like today's mittens but stopped short of the fingers.
|Late 18th Century Matron|
Women wore them for sewing and other needlework, for tending to the children, and for cooking. Upper-class ladies would wear the more mitten form, thus allowing their rings to show.
Gloves have been in fashion - even at least one type of fingerless glove - since ancient Rome. They have vacillated between function and fashion and still do. Our Colonial ancestors valued them for both reasons.
Next time you see someone tapping on their smartphone while wearing a pair of fingerless gloves, smile and remember that their ancestors had it right first.
Debut story will release in April 2017 from Barbour - Colonial story coming in January 2018