Choosing Leather Gloves

If you’re wondering how to pick out a pair leather gloves this fall, don’t worry – you’re not alone. The Glove (note the capitalization) has become a necessary element of the #menswear wardrobe, and no one at Pitti would be caught dead without them – I imagine that’s true even during the summertime. But it’s likely that you’ll be doing more than just posing on the Pitti Wall this fall and winter, so take some time to think about what best fits your needs.

The first step is to determine when and where you’ll be wearing your gloves. This may come as a shock, but not everyone lounges around looking cool and doing nothing with gloves stuffed into their overcoat pocket as a purely aesthetic accessory. If you’re outside 3 hours a day, you’ll probably want something soft and warm. If you’re only “outside” in the garage, getting in and out of your car, you probably don’t want or need something with a thick lining.

Same goes for the temperature: if you live in a temperate climate, you probably don’t need shearling gloves. If you live in Maine, you probably do. And if you live in a 4-season location, having a couple of pairs of gloves can mean comfy hands for almost half the year. I start wearing mine around November, because even if it’s still warm during the day, I ride a bicycle regularly and chilly mornings mean that my hands go numb.  With that said, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can keep your fingly-dinglies nice and toasty.

  1. Unlined Leather Gloves

    Pros: These are ideal when it’s not too cold out, or when you’re looking for a pair of gloves to wear when you’re driving. I dislike driving in thick gloves, especially when driving a manual, as it does become harder to operate nobs and switches and even gear-levers. Otherwise, an unlined glove – especially a driving glove – is a fantastic look that can work with most casual or tailored outfits. In addition, I find that these lighter-weight accessories really lend themselves to interesting colors, which means that if you want driving gloves in British racing green you should absolutely get yourself some.

    Cons: Obviously, they’re not as warm as a lined glove. In addition, you have to be a bit more mindful of fit, as you want the leather to fit close to the hand for maximum feel. Having a too-large unlined glove feels bad, whereas you can often get away with a less exact fit when wearing a lined glove. In addition, if the glove is of poor quality, the seems inside may bother your hands. And finally, you simply may not enjoy the feel of unlined leather, which can occasionally make your hands feel clammy.


  2. Lined Leather Gloves

    Pros: Depending on the lining, these gloves can either be pleasantly warm or fireplace-hot. Linings come in various forms and materials, so make sure you know what you’re getting. The three most common varieties are leather gloves that have been lined with a knit or woven fabric or wool, cashmere, or a blend of some kind; gloves lined in soft fur, and shearling gloves.


    1. Fabric-lined gloves are thinner but still warm, but I have had linings tear in the past, meaning they’re not exactly fit for yard work. That’s probably not why you’re buying them, but still – it pays to do your homework
    2. Fur-lined gloves are incredibly luxurious, soft, and warm – but they tend to be thicker, making them less fit for driving, and they can also be quite fragile if you’re using your hands for anything but carrying a briefcase. Fur can and will wear out over time, and while a pair of nice gloves will certainly last you a long while, you might want to take care that you’re not shoveling snow in your nicest pair.
    3. Shearling gloves are perhaps the warmest and most resilient, but also the thickest. In addition, take care that the “shearling” gloves you’re buying aren’t just lined in knit sheepswool. While shearling gloves will wear out over time (imagine your favorite pair of sheepskin slippers), they’re generally long-lasting and tough-wearing, and a bit more casual in appearance than the first two options.

Cons: Well, lined gloves are warm. That might not be what you want. And the thicker the glove, the more difficult it is to use your fingers precisely. Operating zippers and closing buttons becomes mildly more difficult, but if it’s really cold out, a lined glove – especially fur-lined or shearling – is hard to go without.

Finally, in my experience it’s worth it to spend a bit more on a pair you like. You’ll find passable examples at the mall, but they’ll run you 80-120$ anyway, and stepping up to a pair of fine gloves will make you a happy camper. Not only will you get access to more comfortable and resilient hides and linings, but nice gloves have an heirloom feel to them. Once a favorite pair is properly broken in, they feel like a second skin.


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Jasper Lipton

EIC at Styleforum
Jasper likes indigo, flight jackets, and boots - but he likes his dogs even more. He dreams of buried cities and the spaces between the stars.

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