What is the most distressing change of female habit in the last 50 years? It is the disappearance of hat and gloves, except as protection against elements (and one even can in most bitter winter weather with astonishment see many women, who will rather freeze their ears than don anything hat-like). It used to be absolutely necessary to put on a hat and gloves when going outside one’s home, at least if one was a city-dweller above 6 years of age. Since true country-women, with mittens in their hands and scarf tied under the chin instead of a hat, have ceased to exist, it must be concluded that majority of people remain in perpetual childhood, but without the imagination and innocence associated with it.
Granted, there are moments when a hat is not absolutely necessary or even desired. The question of when to wear hat is a much disputed point in the etiquette of dress. As a general rule, always wear a hat and gloves to church, to a wedding, to a funeral, when a guest at an afternoon tea, and to ceremonies of a formal nature. Wear them when traveling by train, plane or bus. Hat is your crown as a woman and there is no better accessory to beautifully frame your face. Hat can balance the tone of your ensemble – a well-chosen hat can inject a little whimsy to a serious outfit or a touch of grown-up elegance to a frivolous costume.
Sometimes a hair arrangement is in itself formal and artistic enough to do the duty of a hat. But often to arrive at a coiffure sufficiently elaborate to substitute a hat, one needs to sacrifice a portion of her elegance. Consider carefully before submitting to this possibly injurious exchange. Of course, after seven o’clock in the evening you may be wearing evening dress and that in almost all cases requires no hat but as festive coiffure as you can imagine and actualise, with some hair ornaments, flowers or feathers.
Gloves, with or without a hat, are usually worn on a city street, summer or winter. Gloves indicate that you are outside your own home, your own realm, and therefore wish to contain yourself in a little portable kingdom of your own. Gloves form a sort of mental barrier between you and the surroundings over which you have no control (not to mention the actual hygienic barrier, which prevents any harmful micro-organisms and dirt reaching your skin). Only if partaking on nourishment you are taking something of the outside world into yourself anyway and so will remove your gloves. Gloves are worn to dinner parties, but aforementioned reasoning prescribes that they shall be removed in sitting down at the table. After using the finger-bowl, the gloves should be resumed before leaving the table, or else immediately after returning to the drawing-room. To wear gloves while assisting to pour tea for an “at home,” is out of place. The visitors, of course, wear both gloves and hats.
At a “stand-up” evening supper it is not usual to remove the gloves since there is really no time or place to do it, where each one is expected to leave as soon as possible to make room for the next. Remove the hand only of the right glove and tuck it back under the wrist. Dancing parties always call for gloves, preferably light in tint. To wear gloves while playing cards is also an unnecessary affectation of elegance. Walking, driving, shopping and all outdoor events, such as lawn parties, etc., call for gloves. Tint and quality of these are to be regulated by the occasion or the costume.