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How Do You Wear Opera Gloves IRL?

Emily Turner
Photograph by Bjarne x Takata via Trunk Archive

Gloves are all over the runways, red carpets and social media. Here’s how to wear them in the real world.

In this column, fashion news director Annika Lautens solves your clothing conundrums and suggests a few styling tricks along the way.

I confess that I’m a former gloves hater. Every mor­ning before school, my mother would beg and plead with me to put them on, and every morning, I’d meet her with a resounding “No!” It took years of my fingers verging on being frostbitten before I gave in and real­ized she might be onto something.

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Fast-­forward a few years (OK, more than a few!) and long gloves have had a grown-up makeover. Demna first dreamed up mitt mania at the Vetements Fall 2018 show before making the accessory a mainstay at Balenciaga, where he’s been the creative director since 2015. (He worked for both brands until 2019.) Two years later, the pandemic promoted gloves — albeit latex, not leather, ones — as personal protective equipment, which sparked a brightly­-coloured­-hand-­covering trend on the runways that was known as “surgical glove couture.” And soon after, Bridgerton broke the internet and the renaissance of Regency­-era looks commenced.

But despite the countless celebs (Kim Kardashian, Dua Lipa, Lizzo, etc.) who have since rocked gloves on the red carpet and the designer brands (Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton Men’s, etc.) that have promoted them on the runway, it’s taken a while for the general public to embrace the accessory as a fashion statement. Why? Admittedly, this is a hard look to pull off. When it’s done well, you look like a character from Euphoria, but when it’s done wrong, you look like a discount debutante.

So, for anyone looking to avoid a major fashion faux pas, I’ve broken down how to make this opera accessory more accessible. Trust me, you — like my former (and stubborn) self — will thank me later.

Short Story

how to style opera gloves

I love a good short sleeve, but since I live in Canada, most of my arm­-exposing clothing hibernates until June. So, to get the most out of your closet, marry one of your pieces with a pair of neutral long gloves. You’ll be warm enough to survive the early days of spring but cool enough (pun intended!) to blend in with the chicest of crowds.

The Cold Shoulder

how to style opera gloves

Does anything ever truly go out of style? Not according to Gen Z TikTok creators who are bringing Y2K and 2010 trends back to life. If it helps, think of over-­the-­elbow opera gloves worn with sleeveless tops as 2023’s version of the cold-shoulder cut-out — just more refined. Bonus points if your arm accoutrements match the rest of your ensemble.

A Pop of Colour

how to style opera gloves

I know how easy it is to wear only black (hello, I work in the fashion industry!), but to be honest, it’s a little basic. So, if you’d like to elevate your midnight-­hour attire, try a pop of colour. I recommend choosing a warmer hue, like pink, red or orange, to add some oomph to your outfit.

Thinking of giving the glove a go? We’ve rounded up a few playful picks to get you started.

This article first appeared in FASHION’s March 2023 issue. Find out more here.

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