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Opera Gloves

Opera Gloves are long (elbow-length or longer, usually reaching to the upper arm or even the shoulder) gloves worn by women as an accessory, usually to a formal outfit such as an evening gown or wedding dress. The "elbow-length or longer" part is the key; gloves which cover a substantial portion of the forearm, up to just below the elbow, can legitimately be called "long gloves" or "evening gloves", but never "Opera Gloves".

Most popular during the Regency Era (roughly 1790 to 1814, so you'll see them in a lot of Jane Austen adaptations), the late Victorian Era, The Gay Nineties and The Edwardian Era (roughly 1870 to 1914), and the World War II years through the early Sixties. Mostly confined to "specialist" fashions since then (wedding gowns, debutante outfits and the like), though there was a minor revival in the 1980's.

Opera Gloves are usually associated with the following character types (not an exclusive list, but these are the types most frequently seen wearing long gloves:

As noted, Opera Gloves are closely associated with the aristocracy and royalty, especially during the 1870-1914 period, (in fact, gloves in general have been a symbol of royalty and authority for millennia) and many fictional queens, princesses and noblewomen will be portrayed as wearing them as part of their dresses (would be Gorgeous Period Dress, but those were worn in Real Life as well). Also, in the late Victorian era these were required with "full décolleté" (low-necked and short-sleeved) evening dresses worn to Operas and other formal events, to avoid showing too much bare arm. Yet the gloves themselves are Simple Yet Opulent compared to those dresses; plain white kid leather is one of the most frequently used materials, and the material considered the most appropriate for gloves to be worn with formal dress. More elaborate materials, decorations and bright colors (or even black leather) are usually reserved for less formal contexts.

They can also be Fetish Fuel, especially when worn as part of a dominatrix outfit, or if featured in a scene with a stripper (or somebody imitating a stripper) where the ecdysiast slowly removes her gloves, one at a time. Opera Gloves are often paired with strapless gowns, as a way of emphasizing the wearer's bustline: see "Miss Manners"'s remarks below in the Real Life section.

Commonly paired with a Pimped-Out Dress, Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry, Pretty in Mink (whether a fur wrap or fur coat), Parasol of Prettiness, Of Corsets Sexy.

Compare Zettai Ryouiki (which involves long socks), Detached Sleeves.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comics 
  • With all the variety of outfits for heroines in comics, many have opera gloves.
  • Amora, the Asgardian Enchantress from The Mighty Thor wears these, or variations on these, as part of her iconic costume, usually in green. All part of her aristocratic/Femme Fatale persona.
  • The Hellfire Club queen outfits in X-Men.
    • Emma Frost is particularly fond of them (logically enough considering her socialite background), with or without complete fingers, and has worn them as a standard part of her outfit from the beginning.
    • Jean's wedding dress had opera gloves.
    • X-23 frequently uses this look as part of her uniform, though the appearance tends to vary between this trope and Detached Sleeves, Depending on the Artist. Also justified: Laura is a cutter, and she often uses them to hide the wounds.
  • Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four has worn Opera Gloves from time to time as her costume has changed over the years.
  • The Sandman spinoff Death: The High Cost Of Living features a girl who wears them to conceal the scars from a suicide attempt. With a buck-knife.
  • Lady Death wears Fingerless opera gloves, although sometimes the middle finger is left intact.
  • The Black Cat wears opera gloves while out for dinner with Wolverine in Claws II.
  • Anna Mercury wears red, studded Opera Gloves as part of her standard outfit.
  • Cartoonist Bill Ward is famous for his "Glamour Girls" and "Telephone Girls", a great many of whom wear opera-length gloves.

    Fan Fiction 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Rita Hayworth in Gilda, possibly the most iconic Opera Gloves scene in cinematic history.
    • This sequence was spoofed by Sophia Loren (also see below) in her 1970's film Get Rita.
  • Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Marilyn's "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number matches Gilda in iconic status for this trope, and Madonna spoofed it in her video for "Material Girl".
    • Another famous Marilyn Opera Gloves scene is her "That Old Black Magic" production number from Bus Stop. As Cherie, Marilyn wears a distinctly down-at-the-heels showgirl outfit, including very cheap-looking black opera gloves.
    • Famous Marilyn Opera Gloves scene number 3: MM wears glittery black Opera Gloves with a strapless tiger-stripe gown as she vamps Tom Ewell in The Seven Year Itch (in an Imagine Spot of his).
  • Audrey Hepburn in War and Peace, Funny Face, My Fair Lady and several other movies.
  • Natalie Wood in Gypsy, Sex and the Single Girl and The Great Race.
  • Creator/Deborah Kerr in The King and I (Opera Gloves were not worn in the 1860's; wrist-length gloves would have been worn with the outfit in question).
  • Virtually every filmed version of The Prisoner of Zenda features that movie's lead actress(es) in Opera Gloves as part of their 1890's Gorgeous Period Dress / Pimped-Out Dress during the scenes depicting Rudolf's/Rudolph's coronation and/or the ensuing grand ball.
  • Sylvia Kristel in Lady Chatterley's Lover and Mata Hari.
  • Helen Mirren in The Cook, the Thief, his Wife, and her Lover.
  • Gina Lollobrigida in La Donna Piu Bella Del Mondo (Beautiful But Dangerous) and many other movies.
  • Sophia Loren in Madame, A Breath of Scandal and Lady L.
  • Ava Gardner in The Great Sinner, 55 Days at Peking, One Touch of Venus, My Forbidden Past, etc. Oddly enough, she does not wear black Opera Gloves in the actual scene in the movie that made her a star, The Killers, though many photographs exist of her wearing gloves with that outfit.
    • The original Broadway production of One Touch of Venus also had Mary Martin wearing opera gloves with the sleekest gown in her Mainbocher wardrobe.
  • Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau in Viva Maria!!
    • BB also wears Opera Gloves in Mademoiselle Striptease, That Naughty Girl, A Woman Like Satan, Les Grandes Manoeuvres and other films.
  • Jane Russell in Son of Pale face, The French Line, The Las Vegas Story, etc.
  • Danielle Darrieux in The Earrings of Madame De, Rich Young and Pretty, etc.
  • Martine Carol in Nana (wrong for the time period, the Second Empire), Madame Du Barry, Foxiest Girl in Paris, etc.
  • Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve, The Bride Wore Boots, All I Desire, Remember the Night, Illicit, Forbidden, etc.
  • Kim Novak in Pal Joey (with Rita Hayworth), Just a Gigolo, The Legend of Lylahclare, etc.
  • Jean Harlow in Dinner at Eight and Public Enemy.
  • Sean Young in the Affectionate Parody Fatal Instinct, and the 1980's thriller No Way Out.
  • Barbara Carrera in the 1980's comedy Love at Stake.
  • Anne Archer in Love at Large.
  • Eva Green in The Dreamers. It should be noted she's wearing ONLY these in said scene.
  • Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!!, The Portrait of a Lady, Batman Forever, and The Golden Compass.
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor in the 1950's dramatic version of Moulin Rouge!.
  • Kate Winslet in the 1997 Titanic.
  • Lana Turner in The Merry Widow.
  • Scarlett Johansson in A Good Woman.
  • Ashley Judd in DeLovely.
  • Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again and many other films.
  • Jane Powell in Two Weeks with Love (where she combines this trope with Of Corsets Sexy).
  • Mitzi Gaynor, Kay Kendall and Taina Elg in Les Girls.
  • Gloria Grahame in Macao (a very unusual pair that looks sewn, sleeve-fashion, to her blouse).
  • Jeanette MacDonald in many of her 1930's musicals, with and without Nelson Eddy, e.g., The Love Parade (her debut), Love Me Tonight, The Merry Widow (her version), Bitter Sweet, etc.
  • Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief and The Swan.
  • Myrna Loy in The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer; note that in Real Life, she didn't like to wear gloves because they hid her (quite attractive) hands.
  • Joan Collins in The Stud, Annie: A Royal Adventure! (a children's movie), The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Seven Thieves, etc.
  • Loni Anderson wears dominatrix-style black leather Opera Gloves in the kids' movie Three Ninjas High Noon at Mega Mountain.
  • Lesley Anne Down in The Secret Agent Club.
  • Almost any filmed version of Anna Karenina (e.g., the ones starring Vivien Leigh, Greta Garbo and Sophie Marceau) will feature the lead actress wearing Opera Gloves in at least one scene. The 1985 version starring Jacqueline Bisset and the most recent (2012) version starring Keira Knightley both subvert this trope, however, as neither featured actress wears long evening gloves in those versions.
  • Almost any Golden Age of Hollywood musical will have at least one big "production number" with either the lead actress/singer and/or her backup singers/dancers wearing Opera Gloves as part of their Pimped-Out Dress.
  • Virtually any filmed adaptation of one of Jane Austen's novels:
    • Rosamund Pike in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice.
      • She wears one black leather Opera Glove in the climactic fight scene in Die Another Day.
    • Gwyneth Paltrow and Greta Scacchi in Emma.
    • Kate Beckinsale in another version of Emma. Beckinsale also wears Opera Gloves in The Aviator (playing Ava Gardner) and Van Helsing.
  • Doris Day in Pillow Talk, April in Paris, Romance on the High Seas, etc.
  • Ann-Margret (Flavia Geste) wears over-the-elbow gloves, as befits a fashionable 1890's lady, in most of her scenes in The Last Remake Of Beau Geste.
  • Most versions of The Prisoner of Zenda:
    • 1937 (Madeleine Carroll)
    • 1952 (Deborah Kerr)
    • 1979 (Elke Sommer, Lynne Frederick)
  • Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz in Bandidas.
  • Jennifer Connelly in The Rocketeer.
  • Sonia Braga in Moon Over Parador.
  • Jane Seymour in Somewhere In Time.
  • Romy Schneider in the Sissi trilogy (though, again, wrong for the time period).
  • The great Spanish singer/actress Sara (Sarita) Montiel in many of her late-1950's and early-1960's films.
  • Maria Felix in French Cancan.
  • Ingrid Bergman in Anastasia, Elena and Her Men, Under Capricorn.
  • Cybill Shepherd in The Lady Vanishes, Daisy Miller.
  • Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews in The Princess Diaries movies.
  • Eva Mendes in The Spirit.
  • Angelina Jolie in Gia and her new movie, The Tourist.
  • Lee Remick in the 1974 BBC miniseries Jennie (playing Lady Jennie Jerome Churchill, mother of Winston Churchill).
  • Played for horror in Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, as one of the female Cenobites has opera gloves made of her own flayed skin, pulled back onto her arms. It's possible to tell because the skin's rolled up a little.
  • Though he never actually wears them, Dr. Claw could count as a rare male example in Inspector Gadget when Kramer shows him some more normal hands he could use when in public. One hand is based on this trope.
  • Chase Masterson in Yesterday Was A Lie.
  • Diane Kruger in Inglourious Basterds.
  • Loretta Young in The Devil To Pay, as explained by Miss Manners: "The reason for the gloves is immodesty, a principle that young people, brought up to run about half-naked, do not understand. The idea is, the lower the dress, the higher the gloves. Miss Young very properly did not want to put on an extremely low-cut dress only to have people stare at her bare elbows."

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Femme Fatales who interact with Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin wear Opera Gloves in many episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E..
  • Joan Collins wears opera gloves in numerous scenes of her 1980's miniseries Sins and Monte Carlo.
  • Jacqueline Bisset in her 1987 miniseries Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story.
  • Kelly Rutherford, as showgirl/Love Interest Dixie Cousins, wore Opera Gloves in many episodes of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., opposite Bruce Campbell.
  • Actresses in the Femme Fatale role wore Opera Gloves in several episodes of A Nero Wolfe Mystery.
  • Anne Francis wore Opera Gloves in at least one episode of Honey West.
  • Very much in evidence in the old ITV miniseries Edward The Seventh (aka Edward the King).
  • Francesca Annis, playing Lillie Langtry, wore Opera Gloves in almost every episode of the BBC miniseries Lillie.
  • Phoebe Cates and many other actresses in the Lace and Lace II miniseries.
  • Morgan Fairchild as Irene Adler in the TV movie Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady.
  • Catherine Zeta Jones in the TV-movie version of Titanic.
  • On The Dick Van Dyke Show, Rob (Dick Van Dyke) and Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) were going to a formal dinner party in Alan Brady's place, to accept an award for [something]. The group presenting the award was Black. That day they both managed to dye their hands black while making a stormcloud costume for Richie of a school play. They both wore Opera Gloves to cover their hands (Rob stuffed the gloves up his sleeves) in order to cover up their hands lest their black hands be misconstrued; but Rob revealed the truth to the group, and a good laugh was had by all.
  • Catherine Deneuve in the French 2003 miniseries of Dangerous Liaisons, which transplanted the story to a late 1950's/early 1960's setting.
  • Isabella Rosellini in the A&E miniseries Napoleon.
  • The female cast of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, when in Sailor Scout mode.
  • Italian actress Anna Valle in the 2003 miniseries Soraya, paired with 1950's-era Gorgeous Period Dress.
  • Centuries-old vampire and nightclub owner Janette in Forever Knight has been known to wear them as part of her classy, old-fashioned dress—though in fact they're rather new-fangled compared to the period she came from.
  • Mexican actress and singer Aracely Arambula in the telenovela Corazon Salvaje and the current stage production Perfume de Gardenia.
  • Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery and other actresses in Downton Abbey.
  • In Scrubs JD has an Imagine Spot of Elliott as a burlesque dancer complete with pink opera gloves. As part of her dance she peels one off and throws it to the Todd.
  • The three lead actresses of Dracula - Katie McGrath, Jessica De Gouw, and Victoria Smurfit. McGrath (Lucy Westenra) and De Gouw (Mina Murray), in keeping with their Red Oni, Blue Oni characterization, wear contrasting glove colors to match their outfits.

    Music 
  • Stevie Nicks.
    • She has always been fond of gloves of various kinds, particularly lace gloves; as of 2011, she's taken to wearing long black leather gloves with cut-off fingers with almost all her outfits.
  • Maria Callas.
  • Paloma Faith.
  • Roisin Murphy.
  • Lady Ga Ga.
  • Katy Perry (most notably for a photoshoot in a recent issue of Vanity Fair).
  • Hildegarde (1940's and 1950's "cafe society" singer who later became a nun).
  • Shania Twain wears a pair under a shirt and a coat with a minidress/miniskirt strapless top in the videoclip for Man, I feel like a woman, also on numerous occasions in live appearances

    Professional Wrestling 

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets: Miss Piggy wears lavender opera gloves most of the time, and is very, very rarely seen without any gloves at all.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Liliana Vess sported a set on her card during Innistrad block. With the horror movie stylings of Innistrad and Liliana's own status as a very elegant, albeit evil, sorceress, they were probably a natural fit.

    Toys 
  • Barbie has Opera Gloves as an accessory for many of her outfits, but due to the difficulty in modeling fashion dolls' hands to the required level of detail, they're more like pointy arm socks.
    • Mel Odom's "Gene Marshall" fashion doll series boasts many outfits accessorized with Opera Gloves.

    Video Games 
  • Arc Rise Fantasia: Adelle has red gloves to match her dress, and they also have white fur trim on the wrists (making it almost seem like two sets of gloves).
  • Battletoads: The Dark Queen.
  • City of Heroes: It's pretty easy to create these using the costume editor.
  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy: Terra wears them. Like the Garnet example, they cover the back of her hand, but not the fingers.
  • Final Fantasy IX: Garnet's Princess dress, although the gloves are not totally covering the hands. If you mean the type where the fingers are bare and there's a ring around the middle finger holding the glove sleeve in place, yes. Some purists hold that these aren't really gloves at all, since they don't sheathe the fingers.
  • Fire Emblem: A militaristic variant is seen in many of these games. Many female characters wear short sleeves or no sleeves with pauldrons and opera-length gauntlets, such as Eda from Thracia 776 or Lucia in Radiant Dawn.
  • Growlanser: Some of the outfits in these games.
  • Guild Wars: Female player characters of several professions (Mesmer, Elementalist, Paragon, Necromancer) can wear Opera Gloves (or gloves resembling them in style) as part of their outfits. Judging from some screenshots, female characters of certain professions can select Opera Gloves for their outfits in Guild Wars 2 as well.
  • Hitman: Female (civilian) bystanders in several installments of this series wear evening gowns and Opera Gloves.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Princess Zelda, except in the first three games, always wears Opera Gloves to along with her Pimped-Out Dress. However, in Skyward Sword, Ghirahim has similar gloves, while Zelda doesn't wear them at all.
  • Parodius: Rocket riding bunny girls Hikaru and Akane from this series.
  • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl: Gym Leader Fantina sports a pair.
  • Resident Evil: Code: Veronica: Alexia Ashford.
  • Re VOLUTION: Juana, a member of the Resistance, wears these.
  • Rival Schools: Yurika Kirishima wears arm-length gloves as part of her Awesome Anachronistic Apparel.
  • Shining in the Darkness: The princess.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Rouge the Bat.
  • Soul Series: Shows up in this series, due to all the varied outfits. Cassandra's first outfit is one.
  • Super Mario Bros. Princess Peach, except for the sports spin-offs. But despite her outfit practically being a recolor, not Princess Daisy.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: Wolf O'Donnell's long fingerless gloves in his outfit of this game come awfully close, and are a rare male example.
  • Touhou:
    • Kana Anaberal wears these.
    • Also Yukari Yakumo, probably more notably. Yukari seemingly wants to project a Proper Lady image, complete with Parasol of Prettiness, although given the other characters' reaction to her such an image is doomed to fail.

    Webcomics 
  • Red Opera Gloves are part of superheroine Dasien's costume, along with Leotard of Power.
  • In Garanos, Geilen wears a pair to cover up the marks of her illness.
  • Ivy in Lackadaisy wears a pair with her evening dress. Good example of Shown Their Work - while flappers in photographs from the 1920's are rarely shown wearing Opera Gloves, those were indeed worn with formalwear throughout the decade.
  • The gloves Heather wears as part of her uniform in Spinnerette are long enough to be this (and have cuffs at the top!), even if she doesn't refer to them by that name.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood sometimes wore them.
  • June of KaBlam! wears them as part of her musical number in the episode "Won't Stick to Most Dental Work".
  • Code Lyoko: Odd's original Lyoko form have something like this, though ending in cat paws. From Season 4, in their new virtual avatars, Aelita, William and Yumi (on one side) have them as part of their costumes, though ending in Fingerless Gloves.
  • Miranda the Ecaflip in Wakfu. Evangelyne also wears a pair while disguised as a princess in episode 4 ("Miss Ugly") or in the Dream Sequence in episode 22 ("Rubilax").
  • In G.I. Joe: Sigma 6, the Baroness wears fingerless Opera Gloves that expose cybernetic fingers.

    Real Life 
  • This site contains a huge archive of photographs and other images of every imaginable type of Opera Gloves wearer.
  • Because the delicate leathers and fine fabrics needed to make gloves were so hard to come by for so many years, gloves became closely associated with aristocracy and authority. Logically, therefore, the first women recorded as wearing gloves in the 16th Century were noblewomen (chief among them Queen Elizabeth I and Catherine DeMedici). One of the first women pictured wearing what we today would think of as ladies' long gloves was England's Queen Anne, at the beginning of the 18th Century.
  • As noted above, Opera Gloves of the mousquetaire style were popularized in Europe and America in the early 1870's by the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt, who reportedly wore long gloves to make her arms (which she considered to be too thin) look more attractive.
    • By the way, if you see a mousquetaire-style pair of Opera Gloves in a Regency film (such as one based on a Jane Austen novel), it's a mistake. Long gloves in that period were tailored to fit loosely on the arm, and were often held up by drawstrings or garterlike straps (this was portrayed correctly in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie). It was during the Victorian Era that it became fashionable to wear tight gloves — so tight, in fact, that ladies had to use talcum powder to be able to put them on.
  • The Empress Josephine is said to have worn long gloves for the same reason, and also did much to make the style popular in post-revolutionary France.
  • The famous Gay Nineties American musical-theater star Lillian Russell is said to have caused a sensation by cycling down New York's Fifth Avenue, riding a white-and-gold bicycle given to her by "Diamond Jim" Brady and wearing a spectacular cycling outfit accessorized with shoulder-length white Opera Gloves.
  • During the late 1940's and early 1950's, Queen Elizabeth II and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, were almost never seen not wearing Opera Gloves at any public event. To this day, the Queen is still known as a great white-glove wearer, though she doesn't really wear true Opera Gloves that much anymore.
  • Marilyn Monroe appears to have loved Opera Gloves: she wore them (and other styles of gloves) on many, many occasions during the glory days of her career.
  • Grace Kelly was famous for wearing white gloves (Opera Gloves as well as other styles of gloves) both onscreen and offscreen.
  • Audrey Hepburn is another renowned glove-wearer of the past century, though she's best known for wearing the so-called "coat-length" style (about 3/4 of the way up the forearm), rather than Opera Gloves as such.
  • Due to a childhood injury, Natalie Wood often wore clunky bracelets and Opera Gloves to disguise what she considered to be a disfigured wrist.
  • Vivien Leigh, being vain about her hands, often wore long gloves.
  • Another trope subversion: Myrna Loy, who was also vain about her attractive hands, rarely wore gloves offscreen (though she often wore them in her film roles).
  • Gypsy Rose Lee, probably the most famous burlesque performer of all, was famous for her practice, during her routines, of slowly removing her Opera Gloves and tossing them to audience members; if she didn't originate this particular shtick, she certainly popularized it and identified it indelibly with classic striptease artists.
  • The legendary 1950's pinup model Bettie Page frequently wore Opera Gloves (usually black leather) in her Fetish Fuel photo shoots.
  • Dita Von Teese, with her retro style of fashion, often wears Opera Gloves with both daytime and evening wear as well as for her professional engagements. Many of the other modern-day "Burlesque Revival" performers and so-called "retro-pinup models" also wear long gloves.
  • To this day, debutantes attending the famous Vienna (Austria) Opera Ball, as well as its imitators, are still required to wear all-white outfits, including white Opera Gloves.


Ominous Opera CapeOpulent OutfitsPimp Duds
Of Corsets SexyIndex of Gothic Horror TropesParasol of Prettiness
Handwraps of AwesomeGlove TropesRed Boxing Gloves
Mundane LuxuryLuxury TropesPimped Out Cape
Open Shirt TauntCostume TropesOutdated Outfit
MeganekkoClothing Reflects PersonalityPink Means Feminine
Old-School DogfightThe FiftiesPimped-Out Dress
Old-Timey Bathing SuitThe Edwardian EraNice Hat
The French RevolutionRegency EnglandJane Austen
GildaImageSource/Live-Action FilmsGirls Just Want to Have Fun

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