Regency Reader Questions: Glove Etiquette Part Three

“…If for some reason a woman was ungloved, proper etiquette called for the gentleman to remove his gloves before taking her hand, as it was discourtesy to behave otherwise.”

When would a lady be ungloved? Even receiving, wouldn’t she be wearing gloves indoors? On the other hand, according to some articles on flirting I’ve read, ladies apparently took off their gloves at all times in order to flirt with their gloves. When, exactly — and in what circumstances — would a lady remove her gloves? When was it appropriate for her to use them in the “language of flirting” ? When was it absolutely uncouth to remove her gloves?

Almost all the etiquette rules state clearly that a lady should never dine with her gloves on (unless her hands were “not fit to be seen”).  They typically would remove them upon being sat, pulling them off and lying them on their lap with a napkin placed over.  Certainly a problem for messy eaters like myself (I fear I would’ve never had clean gloves!)

Most dinners would have finger bowls for cleaning the hands before placing the gloves back on, usually discreetly under the table.

Gloves were definitely used to flirt with in the Victorian era (see Geri Walton’s excellent post).  During the Regency era, this would not have been done by most ladies, except maybe birds of paradise, merry widows, etc.  I have read some suggestions that women during the Regency flirted with their fans or handkerchiefs, but I think generally Regency women were meant to be demure and pure…so any type of overt or discreet flirting would’ve been scandalous.

According to most sources, removing the gloves at most times in public, or putting them on in public, was uncouth (akin to being undressed).  I think at country homes rules were more relaxed, but I imagine she would still want to wear gloves when out and about (if only to distinguish herself as a lady of quality).  A lot of times, at home, women would still wear gloves but go with a fingerless knitted or crocheted variety for more finger dexterity to do needle work, write letters, etc.

Its certainly hard for the modern woman to imagine wearing gloves virtually everywhere, but I imagine for a Regency lady the opposite was true…and she felt naked without them.

Here is some additional information on ladies and gloves: https://www.janeausten.co.uk/gloves/

Here is a link to Part Two and Part One of this post series.

 

 

 

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