Fancy gloves, whether heavily decorated or made of a single expensive material, are some of the most subtle, but important, signs of luxury. People of high class, or wanting to look high class, will often include fancy gloves as part of their look. They aren't big and flashy like other luxury clothes, but they will be noticed by the people who "matter".
These gloves can be of any length, from just below the wrist to above the elbow (a style known as "opera gloves"), though gloves for men have less variation. Regardless, knowing which to wear is often a sign of true Old Money. The required lengths and styles for any event were unwritten rules, sometimes shifting from season to season. Those that wore the wrong kind of gloves were a surefire way to identify "the riffraff". Though a girl can learn about the right gloves to wear at a Royal School.
Such gloves are rarely worn for practical reasons. If they are, they will be Stylish Protection Gear (such as a lady's winter gloves being lined with fur). Though even gloves without practical purpose do help protect the hands... from looking like peasant hands. When Idle Rich hands do little work as it is, gloves further make sure nothing will callus them. As such the hands of some upper class characters look soft and delicate (and will give away such characters who are trying to hide their status). An exception to this latter clause is when a lady wears fancy gloves when Kicking Ass in All Her Finery. The gloves themselves may get bloody when she punches someone's nose in, but her tough hands will stay immaculate.
This trope was at its height from The Gilded Age to The '60s, when they were considered a necessary part of Society style. Before and after those times, fancy gloves were an optional luxury. Yet today certain Society events today still require gloves (such as many debutante balls).
As with most luxuries, fancy gloves are not limited to the upper class (just the fanciest are reserved for them). Even servants might wear gloves if the setting is formal enough. Otherwise gloves can be seen in many formal places and events. Some military corps even require gloves as part of their dress uniforms.
Compare Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry (another luxury with usually little practicality), Little Black Dress (a fashion that also signals elegance without being extremely fancy), White Glove Test (doesn't require gloves, but if it does they will be fancy ones), Nice Hat, Nice Shoes (both also practical, but fancy, fashion items).
Not to be confused with White Gloves (which is an animation convention, not a fashion one).
- In Love Hina, Naru wears a pair of long silk gloves with her extremely fancy wedding dress. Though the panels show them at different lengths. They are below the elbows before the wedding and above the elbows after the wedding.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!:
- These are worn by almost everyone during the high class state dinner party late in the manga even the guys, this being them though The Gloves Come Off literally when Negi and Ku Fei start super powered Arm Wrestling.
- The third Imperial Princess of the Hellas Empire Theodora is always seen with these on. The Twilight Imperial Princess Asuna features these prominently in Requisite Royal Regalia.
- The Ojou Ayaka dons these in preparation for the final day of the Mahorafest arc, in one of the most impractical high class outfits ever.◊
- Fancy gloves show up often in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! considering the bulk of the cast are nobility. Catarina wears opera gloves at formal occasions, such as tea parties or her birthday party. As a teenager, her default outfit includes wrist length gloves.
- Sailor Moon:
- The Senshi are reincarnated princesses from kingdoms in the distant past. They wear long gloves as part of their Frills of Justice.
- In the third season of the anime, one of the villain's henchladies infiltrated an elementary school fair, pretending to be a socialite. Her outfit includes gloves trimmed with white feathers.
- Jean Grey comes from an upper middle class family. When she arrives at Xavier's mansion in the first issue of X-Men she's dressed as stylishly as a debutante, in a blue traveling outfit that includes a pair of white gloves.◊ Her later Fairytale Wedding Dress includes opera length gloves.
- At the opera in Don Bluth's Anastasia, Anya wears white opera gloves like the other ladies attending. Grand Duchess Marie's gloves are daubed with peppermint oil, which triggers a childhood memory of Anya's about spilling some peppermint oil on the palace carpet. This absurd fact proves to the Grand Duchess that Anya is no imposter, but rather the true Princess Anastasia.
- In the Disney Animated Canon, the Disney Princesses who marry into royalty (Belle, Cinderella, and Tiana) all wear opera gloves as part of their signature outfits, while the ones who were born royal (Rapunzel, Aurora, Snow White, Ariel, Jasmine) do not.
- Scarlet Overkill want to become royalty by stealing the crown of England, because she always wanted to be a real princess since she was a little girl. As such her main outfit has a pair of black opera gloves, and her coronation dress has red opera gloves.
- Queen Elizabeth II wears white opera gloves with her white royal dress.
- In All I Want for Christmas, Hallie goes to see Santa a second time, thinking her Christmas wish to reunite her Socialite mother and working class father backfired. She want to correct it and this time put on some of her best clothes, such as a fancy red winter coat, a white rabbit muff, and white cotton gloves (the kind meant for fancy events instead of winter weather).
- In the third segment in The Bad and the Beautiful, film producer Johnathan Shields convinces author James Lee Bartlow and his wife Rosemary to come to Hollywood so Bartlow can adapt his book into a screenplay. Shields also pays for all their expenses, so Rosemary takes advantage and buys many fancy clothes, including a pair of black velvet gloves that match her new evening dress and the black lining of her white mink wrap.
- Louise, being a high society lady, wears these often in The Earrings of Madame de.... Besides being decorative they wind up as a plot point. After getting back the earrings that she sold and pretended were stolen, Louise pretends that she dropped them in one of her long gloves. Her husband, who knows what really happened, thus finds out she has a lover.
- When Miriam arrives in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte she's wearing these - to show how she's a sophisticated urban woman.
- And Charlotte is wearing them when she leaves to show she's recovered from her Sanity Slippage.
- Subverted in Gilda in two ways during "Put the Blame On Mame". Wearing them at all belies that Gilda is not from an upper class background and she removes one during her performance, invoking the vulgar notion that she's performing a strip tease.
- In The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill, High-Class Call Girl Kissey Hill dons a pair of long black gloves as a prelude to tormenting the Count de Sade.
- The Age of Innocence starts with the New York Society members At the Opera Tonight and then in the same evening going to an annual ball. It's noted that the men switch to dancing gloves when they arrive at the latter event.
- In Little Women, Meg and Jo are invited to a New Year's party. Meg is aghast that Jo has ruined her white gloves with lemonade, and thus can't dance. Buying new gloves isn't an option with the March family's current state of near-poverty, so Jo's only solution is for each girl to wear one of Meg's nice gloves and carry one of the bad gloves in their other hand so nobody can see that its ruined. Meg isn't enthusiastic (Jo's larger hands will ruin her nice glove), but has no alternative. Ironically Jo doesn't even dance with anyone except Laurie, and they did that out in the hall where nobody would've noticed her lack of gloves.
- In Best Served Cold, the protagonist wears long gloves when dressed fancy to hide her mutilated hand. It ultimately becomes a major plot point when they save her life from a contact poison.
- In Cutthroat Kitchen, Alton Brown auctions off a sabotage in the form of his "late Aunt Mabel's gloves". Because Alton wanted to keep the classy white gloves pristine, the poor chef wearing the gloves had to make a club sandwich without touching any food.
- The Sopranos has an episode revealing that Carmela and Meadow have a tradition of going out to a fancy restaurant wearing long gloves on her birthday. In the episode, Meadow decides that it's a childish custom and refuses to participate.
- Most of the cast of Downton Abbey wear these most of the time, with many variations in length. Justified Trope as the show is set in The Edwardian Era, when gloves practically mandatory to appear upper-class.
- Game of Thrones: After the Battle of the Blackwater, Bronn improves his fortunes by shacking up with a noblewoman. He arrives in Tyrion's cell showing off his new gloves, using them to help explain how he's got too much to lose these days to take up Tyrion's defense again.
- Mystery Date: In the the cover of the classic release, the "Formal Dance" girl's outfit includes long white gloves.
- In Gypsy Mama Rose receives a pair of long gloves as a wedding present. She gives them to Gypsy to wear during her debut as a burlesque performer to sell Gypsy's "gimmick" of being high-class. Gypsy removes the gloves during her act (and drops one shoulder strap) as the extent of her performance and the audience goes crazy for it.
- Barbie: Many of Barbies outfits include fine gloves, as early as the "Enchanted Evening" doll that paired her fancy pink evening dress with white opera gloves.
- In Ace Attorney, Franziska von Karma puts on an attitude of being cold and tough, but she's also very cultured, which is shown by her clothing which includes fine black gloves.
- In Bayonetta 2, the eponymous heroine has a set of clothing called her "Sunday Best" which she wears in cut scenes as she goes shopping in Manhattan, and which tends to get ruined when the angels show up. Both variation include long silk gloves.
- In Bioshock 2, one of the posters for Plasmids claims that splicing will help your upscale life. The poster shows a married couple, and the wife wearing white gloves as she strokes her silver fox cape.◊
- In Chrono Trigger, both Queen Leene and her descendant Princess Nadia wear similar white dresses and long gloves as part of their royal outfits. Nadia is a Rebellious Princess, so she wears just loose pants and a top when she wanders around as Marle.
- In the Dark Souls games, the fanciest armor sets include the fanciest gloves, such as the lace gloves Princess Dusk wore in the first game (which the player can wear with the rest of her dress).
- In Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Princess Rosalyn wears long gloves that stop after the wrist (so they cover the arms but not the hands) as part of her royal ensemble.
- In Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Sapphire is a princess and a warrior, so while her gloves are fancy, they are also armored.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, the White Glove Society wear gloves and certainly give the impression of being "high class" with their fancy outfits and upper-class demeanor, particularly in contrast to the fities-styled "Chairmen" and the mobster-styled Omertas. It turns out that this is partly an act that Mr House forced them into, and that the White Gloves are using it to cover up their cannibalism.
- Final Fantasy IX Princess Garnet has long gloves that match her royal Pimped-Out Dress. When she is adventuring as "Dagger", she wears something less fancy.
- In Growlanser III, Anette is the daughter of the President of the Xironia Federation, and her grand dress and battle dress reflect her position. Her grand dress has white opera gloves, while her battle dress has gold trimmed gloves◊ that blend in with her white sleeves.
- Hexyz Force: Princess Irene wears white gloves with both her pimped out dresses. The adventuring one has a pair with blue edging.
- In The Legend of Zelda, Princess Zelda didn't originally wear gloves with her puffy pink dress, but after the Costume Evolution her standard dress includes gloves ever since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Neither the ninja Shiek nor the pirate Tetra wear gloves, emphasizing this trope.
- In Pokémon Gold and Silver and the remakes, Eusine wears a pair of stylish White Gloves to compliment his sharply dressed look. Combined with his Badass Cape, purple jacket and trousers plus his big red bowtie, he very much resembles a member of the aristocracy.
- In Super Mario Bros., Princess Peach wore long, white gloves in her early character art, but sprite limitations in the NES games couldn't show them.
- In Saints Row 2, there is a high fashion clothing chain is called "Impressions", and among their clothing options are opera length gloves of different fancy materials.
- HM The Queen still wears fancy gloves as appropriate for the occasion, but while her coronation ensemble included long gloves,◊ she didn't wear them during the actual ceremony.
- Michael Jackson is famous for his one bright, white, sparkling glove. It was originally meant to hide his skin condition, but he incorporated into his iconic outfit. Thus, it became a symbol of his status as the "King of Pop".