Give a hand to hot fall accessory: gloves

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In Shopgirl, gloves play a supporting role to Claire Danes' title character, who stands behind the counter selling upscale handwarmers. But in real department stores, gloves are enjoying a starring role as this season's most important fashion accessory.

Fall's obsession with several key looks - rich Russian, upscale bohemian and luxurious military - invites an investment in gloves. Sleek leather gloves - some with mink trim, some with rich detailing and embellishment - are not only hot but sensible, too; forecasters are predicting a brutal winter.

"Gloves are always important in that a fall suit, and obviously a coat, looks more polished with gloves. This season, gloves are more than a necessity against the cold; they are major accessories," says LaVelle Olexa, senior vice president of fashion merchandising for Lord & Taylor.

Gloves also happen to look right with almost any coat style. (Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, no doubt packed many gloves to go with her dozens of dresses and coats for her first official visit to the United States with Prince Charles.)

"Gloves add that finishing touch," says Irenka Jakubiak, editor of Accessories magazine. "It gives a certain touch to a fully accessorized look that has been elegantly put together. Not only is a glove functional ... it adds that beautiful detail to the outfit. It gives that final, finishing touch."

Last year's three-quarter-length jackets with shorter sleeves ushered in a new demand for gloves. This season, with the emphasis on opulence and embellishment (and the newfound interest in black), gloves reappear with more detail, such as applique and fur trim, Jakubiak says.

"They should stand out, either with contrasting color or with embellishment, be it a fur trim or embroidery for the Russian looks or grommets and studs for the military look," Olexa says. "You can even find opera-length gloves ... with buttons and lace-ups."

After so many seasons when other accessories, especially shoes and handbags, stole all the attention, Jakubiak says she's happy to see fashion give gloves a hand.

Shopgirl, which opened in the area yesterday, isn't the only movie this season that features gloves. Rent, due in theaters Nov. 23, will no doubt add its fashion two cents to the bohemian trend.'s apparel and accessories division is pushing fashion items to correspond with Rent characters, including Mimi's fishnet stockings, Mark's scarves and Roger's fingerless gloves.

Greg Morago writes for the Hartford Courant.

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