After a mild start to winter, a cold front and snow storm has rather rudely hit much of the country this weekend. Those of us who are not using the weather as a socially-acceptable excuse to avoid human contact for the next 48 hours face the predictable, arduous dance of winter dressing. It’s time to shimmy into that puffer coat, lace up those waterproof boots, grab a scarf, hat, and gloves.
Or maybe not. Though the past few months have shown fashion types eagerly appropriating dorky winter staples such as Patagonia fleeces and airbag-level puffer coats, there has been little love for the glove. Yes, this resistance could have something to do with amenable temperatures, but I don’t expect much change as the chill sets in.
That is because I spent this week conducting an extremely unscientific survey: checking out my fellow New Yorkers’ hands during each commute. I saw knuckle tattoos. I saw engagement rings. I saw plenty of chewed cuticles. What I didn’t see: a whole lot of gloves.
From a logistical perspective, it makes sense. You can't text in gloves, which makes the accessory less-than-ideal for those of us who are slaves to Slack channels or Gmail inboxes. Of course, there are touchscreen gloves, but as with artificially intelligent robots, our brightest minds have not quite perfected that technology.
The gloves that work best for typing are often thin, which means they’re not all that great at the whole keeping-you-warm thing. The thicker the fabric, the harder to text.
When you're not able to hit your phone's space bar with 100 percent accuracy, the result is usually getting so annoyed that you rip your gloves off in disgust. So, no gloves.
Much like winter coats, the best-looking gloves are the least-insulating. If cutesy red leather riding gloves kept my fingers from numbing, I would own a pair for every day of the week. Unfortunately, the material provides little warmth.
Because of this, you’re more likely to see a pair of leather gloves on actors who reenact murders on Investigation Discovery shows than you are on the hands of law-abiding commuters.
According to those in the industry-know, my glove-ocalypse theory has, um, legs. A representative for retail analytics firm EDITED told me that winter 2018 has seen a 10.7 percent decrease in the number of gloves in stock. Elizabeth Shobert, director of digital strategy for retail analytics company StyleSage, pulled similar data: on average, retailers sell twice as many scarves as they do gloves.
Another questionable glove trend finds designers attaching fur to the outside of gloves. That's not how heating your hands works, though the detailing does make for some fun drama, especially if you're the kind who gesticulates while speaking. These Moncler Genius Fur Gloves ($895) boast a feather duster-esque appliqué that prohibit you from using your hands to do just about anything except look rich.
So: Stylish gloves are remarkably impractical, defeating their entire purpose. But if you decide to suck it up and prioritize comfort over style, you end up resorting to wearing bulbous, polyurethane monstrosities on your hands. That always feels like a defeat. Why risk ruining your outfit with gloves when there is a good chance you'll forget them when you stop for coffee, anyway?
Perhaps one girl’s “bulbous” is another’s bestseller: according to Google Trends, practical, heavy-duty winter gloves are the most-searched. Outdoor Research tops the list; the Seattle-based gear shop hawks heavy-duty options such as the tan Exit Sensor Gloves ($59). Similar options like The North Face’s Summit G3 ($80) and Carhartt Quilts ($20) are also desirable.
You’ll be warm in these, no doubt, and you’ll also have a little bit of space lest your hands swell up due to an allergic reaction; these puffed-out designs make mitts look huge.
Speaking of mittens, the $89 Echo Classic Glitten (that’s a glove with a mitten overlay, duh) is admittedly sleeker than anything you’ll find in a sporting store.
Artizia’s Cashmere Cuffs ($30) are warm enough, neutral, and run big, which is infinitely better than running small. Nothing deflates an ego quite like realizing your stubby, meaty fingers can’t fit into a delicate fold of fabric.
But are any of these worth the expense, and do we need them?
One high-profile gloved ambassador is Meghan Markle. Judging by her often-covered hands, the duchess is either quick to catch a chill or a fan of the accessory. Just this week, she toted a suede pair to a royal engagement. During a feat of coordination on Christmas Day, Markle delicately carried black leather gloves in her hands.
For all their beauty, they're still kind of pointless. No, I do not mourn the days of Grace Kelly's Rear Window character being expected to wear sleek gloves on the hottest day of the year. When things get frosty, I prefer burrowing my hands into my coat pockets.
That said, I do own a pair of pale yellow Smartwool gloves. This week, I wore them to a happy hour. Upon leaving, I reached into my pocket and noticed that I had left my gloves inside. The wind on the street was rough. I decided to go back to my table to see if I could find them.
“Are these your gloves?” the waitress asked me, giving them back. Though the chunky material gave me oversized Marge Simpson hands, I must admit, as I braved the elements on my long walk home, I was glad to have them.