Polite society went through a period in the nineteenth century when hands were always gloved. We have no cause to do that any longer of course, nor to change our gloves several times during the day as the great dandies of the past were wont to do. But still, several pair are desireable for wear in cool weather. The well-dressed man's dress glove wardrobe might contain black for evening (during the day black gloves are like black suits - fairly common but far from ideal), gray suede for day wear, and peccary for the country. Another classic, the yellow chamois gloves that were worn by 19th century gentlemen, is fast becoming extinct. Merola, the fine glovemakers based in Rome, is for example no longer able to obtain suitable deerskin.
In Mr. Merola's shop, the glovemaking process has not changed significantly for a hundred years. It begins with a craftsman who stretches the skins and then hand cuts the leather. The shaped pieces are passed on to a seamstress who hand sews the gussets on the side of each finger and places the thumb pieces in their opening before sewing them to the body of the glove (the hand sewing helps Merola's gloves to conform particularly well to the fingers compared to other makers). If the gloves will be lined they are passed on to a liner who inserts the silk or cashmere and anchors it by stitching it to a narrow piece of leather on the edge of the glove. Finally, each pair is shaped on electrically heated hand forms. Merola repeats this sequence of events about 20,000 times annually.
Personally, I prefer unlined gloves for walking about, however silk lining is a good choice when the gloves will routinely be worn in mild to freezing temperatures. Cashmere is still warmer, for even colder days, but is all but unwearable above freezing. If I lived somewhere cold I might want a second, cashmere lined version of each of my gloves. Fortunately, that is not necessary.
Photo: Merola Gloves