Nothing adds as much class to driving as a pair of leather driving gloves. Driving gloves keep you warm and give you the extra grip when you are on the steering wheel all the while looking dapper and elegant.
Today we discuss driving gloves – their history, the quality levels, different styles, the leathers and anything else you want to know about this wonderful men’s accessory.
The history of driving gloves is closely tied to the automobile industry. They first appeared in the 1890s. At that time driving was rough. There was no power steering.
The steering wheels were out of metal or out of wood. There was no cabinet and no heating so driving gloves were essential to keep your hands clean and to have an actual grip on your steering wheel.
Interestingly, the driving gloves did not look like they do today. Instead of the short tight fitting glove, it was a gauntlet style that reached all the way back to your overcoat and it was made of thick leather sometimes lined with wool and you really don’t have any sensitivity in your fingers, but you don’t need it because the steering wasn’t sophisticated. It remained that way up about until the 1930s when the style changed dramatically.
We got tight fitting gloves, that were shorter. It had perforation holes so you wouldn’t transpire in your hands. It also became a stylish fashion accessory and so no gentleman motorist would leave the house without his elegant leather driving gloves.
Gloves As A Status Symbol
If you were able to wear gloves on a regular basis, especially light colored ones, it was very luxurious because you have to keep it clean and if you could afford the staff to do that, it was a very high-status symbol. Of course, at that time there was no power-steering and having a thin layer of leather gave you extra grip on the steering wheel.
Decline In Driving Glove Popularity
In the following decades, the driving gloves lost a bit of its popularity as cars got warmer. By the 1960s they added a layer of grip to steering wheels, so they weren’t necessary anymore. However, stylish folks such as Steve McQueen would always wear driving gloves and it helped to keep them popular.
Same thing with James Bond, he would wear them, and so they were still part of the mainstream. Throughout the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, there was a distinct decline in driving gloves. But with the resurgence in classic style, driving gloves had become popular again.
And maybe the movie Drive, with Ryan Gosling wearing them prominently had something to do with it.
Today, driving gloves are associated with stylish gentlemen who take driving seriously and want to look the part. You particularly see them with people who are into vintage cars, high-end cars or race cars.
But in fact, you can also wear them if you have your own little Fiat 500 or your Saturn car just to keep your hands warm.
Driving Gloves Can Be Worn All Year Round
Think about it, if it’s hot in the summer, and your steering wheel is blazing hot, a pair of driving gloves protects you from the heat. Also, every modern car still has the glove box or glove compartment. Even though most people don’t care to put the gloves in there anymore, it is a clear indication that at one point in time it was essential to have a pair of driving gloves.
Regular Gloves Versus Driving Gloves
Driving gloves are unlined versus most regular gloves are lined. The reason is with a thinner leather you have more control and sensitivity. You feel everything on your steering wheel. An insulating layer such as cashmere or alpaca also moves around and so it’s warmer but you feel further away from the steering wheel. That is why every driving gloves are unlined.
We wanted a grippy soft leather. Our regular gloves are really soft but have a suede finish which is not as grippy as the Lamb Nappa finish. We did a bit of testing, and we only get our lambskins from Spain, Ethiopia or South Africa because they are the softest and it has to be very comfortable but also have the right amount of grip on your steering wheel while not sticking to it.
Apart from lamb Nappa gloves, hair sheep is another good leather for driving gloves. Deerskin can be good if it’s thin enough but generally it is too thick and then there is peccary.
Personally, I love peccary. It’s the best leather. It’s the softest, and it’s the most durable. However, by default, it’s rather thick. Unless you can split the leather down and get a thin peccary glove, I much prefer a lamb Nappa glove because it is about half as thin and therefore you get a better feel and sensitivity on your steering wheel.
Holes Keep Your Hands Dry And Cooler
The other difference is ventilation holes. When you race with your car, your hands are much more likely to perspire. The hole perforation helps to keep your hand climate normal so you don’t have to sweat and you have that constant grip throughout the race or your drive.
So, we at Fort Belvederedecided not to just add holes at the fingers but also at the back which is hand-woven by skilled glove makers in Hungary,, and it doesn’t just look nice because it has this arrow shape which is very dynamic but there are also hole perforations so your hands stay cool. It takes a few hours, but we believe it is worth it because it is comfortable, functional and extremely debonair.
Most importantly, driving gloves have short wrists, so your wrists can move freely. On the other hand, most regular gloves cover your wrist to keep you warm.
Driving Gloves Vs. Racing Gloves
Driving Gloves are made out of leather. They give you grip. They keep you warm and they look extremely stylish. Racing gloves, on the other hand, are meant to perform and protect you from eventual fires and other possible occurrences.
Different Kinds Of Driving Gloves
You can have machine sewn gloves or handsewn gloves. Machine sewn is finer and quicker to produce, handsewn take longer and have larger stitches.
More importantly machine stitched gloves look more elegant because the seams are on the inside. While you walk, it’s not very uncomfortable and hence we prefer the machine sewn look for unlined day gloves. But on the steering wheel, it’s less comfortable because you can feel the seam on the inside. With a pair of handsewn gloves, the seam is on the outside, thus it is a lot more comfortable for you to drive in.
You have seams on the outside, so they are much more comfortable when you drive. If you live in a warmer climate, you want to consider ones that have the finger tips cut off, because they are cooler.
Quality Hallmark In Driving Gloves
A right grippy soft leather is important and so are seams that are on the outside. On top of that, I like to have an adjustable snap button that is not a Velcro. Because a Velcro sometimes comes off and it’s just a cheaper feeling. Personally, when I have a vintage car or a high-end car, I want a high-end glove and so I go with a snap button that is adjustable.
Avoid Knuckle Holes
The next quality hallmark to pay attention to are the knuckle holes. For some strange reasons, most driving gloves have these knuckle holes and probably the goal was to have better ventilation. I find that these four holes never actually proper align with the knuckles. It is less comfortable and it can sometimes chafe the skin.
Therefore at Fort Belvedere, we decided to skip those knuckle holes and go with a woven pattern in the same soft Nappa leather, so you don’t feel uncomfortable and you still get the ventilation effect. It looks a lot more stylish and serves the same purpose even better because rather than 4 knuckle holes we have a bunch of smaller holes across the back of your hand. If you like the look of knuckle holes, definitely try a pair on because they can be quite uncomfortable because there are usually seams around it.
If, for some reason you like the look of knuckle holes, definitely try a pair on as they can be quite uncomfortable because there are usually seams around the holes and they never align with your knuckles. Even if they do in one state, as soon as you move your fingers they won’t anymore.
Choosing The Right Color For Driving Gloves
In terms of driving glove colors, it is really up to you what you want to have. Some people like to match the interior of their cars. Others like it contrasting and bold. At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice. We believe driving gloves should be an extension of your personality. They look very attractive, and some men like to wear them instead of unlined gloves.
So overall, driving gloves may not be necessary for the everyday person, but they are beneficial for everybody. No matter if you drive a luxury car or just an entry-level car, they keep your hands warm or protect you from the heat. They give you extra grip, and they are enormously stylish.
Best of all, you can even wear them when you are not driving because it is a very stylish accessory. It’s perfect for spring, summer or warmer climates to wear instead of an unlined glove. If you partake in races, like vintage cars or a member of the Concours d’Elegance a pair of driving gloves is absolutely essential, and you should invest in a number of them.