What better gift at Christmas time than gloves for the hand you love to hold? The array of gloves in the marketplace is varied enough to suit any taste or task -- for him, warm, lined driving gloves for the bitter mornings he volunteers to warm up the car; for the youngsters, waterproof mittens that won't go soggy with snowballs.
The brightest gloves this holiday are meant for her. Soft leathers are tinted in rich jewel colors and cut in soft suedes and leathers. There's more trim this season -- contrast cuffs, snappy gold buttons marching up the wrist and sprinkles of metal studs. Today's looks are more polished, and a smart leather glove finishes the look as no other accessory can.
Historically, gloves have been held in more esteem than mere accessories to vanity. Ceremonial gloves worn by the clergy symbolized the guiding hand of divinity, and kings presented gloves to subjects to symbolize temporal power.
But a gift of gloves most often was associated with affairs of the heart. In days of old, suitors presented their lady love with gloves to signify their honorable intentions much the way engagement rings are given today. Jeweled and intricately embroidered gloves were reckoned in royal dowries.
Elizabeth I, that famous royal spinster, took the wearing of gloves to the heights. She maintained a "mistress of the sweet coffers" to care for and catalog 2,000 pairs of gloves in special perfumed boxes. Elizabeth was vain about her delicate hands and constantly toyed with her gloves on court occasions, but was open-handed and flirtatious in presenting gloves to her courtly favorites, who wore them emblazoned on their chest as precious mementos.
A gift of gloves is an intimate reminder of the giver. They're touched and held and searched for. Think about it.
Reaching for some more ideas? Here are some pointers.
* For a special holiday surprise, why not slip a ring on the third finger of the left-hand glove and present it in a flat box. Small jewelry boxes give the gift away. This works with bracelets and watches, too.
* If you're giving pricey gloves, why not throw in a pair of real cheapos, which can be kept in the car's glove compartment? Water will stain leathers; the cheapies come in handy for brushing snow and scraping the windshield.
* Speaking of cheapies, if they're dirt cheap, buy two pairs to allow for glove loss, which is almost inevitable.
* Include some talc with a gift of new leather gloves. A light dusting helps in slipping them on.
Care and cleaning
Jill Mattera of Aris Isotoner, offers these suggestions for keeping leather and leather-trimmed gloves clean.
* Slip gloves on and wash as you would the hands. Use cool water and a very gentle care soap such as Woolite cold water wash.
* Rinse gloves in clear cool water while still on the hands. Towel dry and remove gently without pulling.
* Air-dry them away from any heat source or sunlight. When completely dry, leather will have a stiff, wrinkled appearance. Work the leather with the finger tips until it becomes supple again.