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While winter is not officially here for a few more days, the temperatures have already begun to drop low enough where we’ve broken out our coats and boots. However, just because it’s cold outside, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice fashion!
There are plenty of ways to upgrade your winter outerwear look with fun and trendy accessories like hats and scarves. But there’s one more piece that pulls everything together: gloves. More specifically, leather gloves.
Whether you’re returning to the office or building snowmen with friends and family, a quality leather glove can make your outfit look effortlessly chic while still keeping your hands warmer than ever. We asked experts for their tips when shopping for a quality pair of leather gloves and how to take care of them so they last for years to come.
What to look for in quality leather gloves
What are you using them for?
One of the first things to consider when shopping for a quality leather glove is its intended use, because that will determine the style and longevity you're looking for, explained Melissa Hernandez, founder and owner of Minneapolis-based MH Style Consulting, and shoemaker and leather specialist Marcell Mrsan. If you want leather gloves to use outside in the snow or in harsher conditions, you’ll need to look for something more durable. But if you’re just looking for something stylish to complement the rest of your winter outerwear during your commute, you can opt for something a bit more delicate and light.
Are they water-repellant?
Mrsan says the quality of winter gloves is determined by how water-repellant it is. “If you plan to use your gloves heavily touching wet stuff, including snow, you certainly want to look for the thickness of the glove you buy and how much it can insulate the cold from your hand,” he told us.
He explained that typical elegant leather gloves are made with leather that is 0.5-0.8 millimeters thick, which is very thin, as you can imagine. For those looking to wear gloves for more hands-on activities, you’ll want to look for something much thicker than that.
How well do they fit?
Once you’ve determined which kind of glove you’re in need of, it’s time for the fun part: trying them on! Hernandez emphasized the importance of searching for a glove that’s more form-fitting for a sleek, fashionable, functional look. She added that leather tends to stretch, so choosing a form-fitting pair of gloves from the beginning is the best approach for long-term use.
What kind of materials should you look for?
While you’re trying on gloves, take note of how stiff the leather is. “Softer leather gives gloves longevity and comfort while limiting the amount of cracking and damage,” said stylist Stacee Michelle.
Another thing to note is the lining material. Michelle recommends looking for hairsheep, deerskin and peccary leather for the exterior leather. For interior lining, she and Hernandez both recommend cashmere, wool and shearling as high-quality options. Based in the Midwest, Hernandez understands firsthand the importance of having a glove with high-quality lining that will actually keep your hands warm during extreme weather and temperatures.
How much should you spend?
Purchasing leather goods can be intimidating because of the price tag, but Hernandez says you can also find some quality pieces that won’t break the bank. “I normally work with clients that want to spend money on gloves, but at the same time, I might have those clients that don’t want to break the bank and I can find them for about $30 to $50,” she said.
However, for those who are willing to spend a little more, you’ll be seeing price tags closer to $100 and over, added Mrsan and Michelle. In most cases, the more you’re willing to pay, the better the quality you’ll get. “You can’t expect to buy a very, very cheap glove and have outstanding great quality because that usually doesn’t come hand in hand,” said Mrsan.
The advantage of shopping for leather gloves versus any other textile, he goes on to explain, is that the quality can be maintained for a longer period of time.
There are materials on the market that can help you keep moisture away from the leather, which is what causes them to deteriorate alongside any other chemicals they meet with. But what else do you need to know about taking care of leather gloves?
How to clean and take care of leather gloves
“Leather gloves will last you years if you tend to them,” Michelle told us. Tending to them comes in two main forms: avoiding water damage as much as possible and keeping them moisturized.
“Water always means damage for leather,” Mrsan said. Hernandez tells her clients to store their leather gloves in a cool, dry place when not in use. If they do happen to get wet, she recommends laying them on a flat surface to air-dry.
Like our skin, leather can become dry and dehydrated. Things like cold weather, wetness and even sweat can damage the gloves. “You have to moisturize the leather with saddle soap or some kind of moisturizing agent specifically made for leather,” Mrsan advised, describing it as a similar process to moisturizing the skin.
While you may be tempted to use a leather shoe cleaner on your accessories, Mrsan does not recommend it since most brands are made with pigment content, which can leave a mark on your skin. Instead, he recommends choosing something that is colorless and made with beeswax and fat content to ensure that it is soft enough to actually moisturize your glove. “If you don’t pay attention to keep your gloves moist, even if it's expensive, it’s only going to last maybe one or two seasons,” he said.
If you’re trying a new cleanser or moisturizer on an accessory and you’re worried about any potential damage, Mrsan says to first test it on a small patch that isn’t exposed, similar to the way you would test a new skin care product on a small patch of skin first before applying it to the whole face.
Leather gloves to shop, based on expert recommendations
Hernandez called J.Crew and Lands' End two of her go-to brands for leather gloves. This all-black pair has cashmere lining and is made with refined sheepskin leather, two qualities that are recommended by Michelle. They feature "tech-friendly fingertips" that allow you to easily use your phone without having to slip your gloves on and off each time.
These Bloomingdale's-exclusive gloves have cashmere lining and come in luxurious colors like caramel, black, brown and blue. They're a bit longer than a standard wrist-length glove, which Hernandez recommends to help keep from snow getting inside.
The patchwork trend isn't just for larger pieces like pants and coats; it works on gloves, too! Made with a cashmere-wool blend interior and a 100 percent leather exterior, these tech-friendly gloves are the perfect addition to any winter wardrobe.
Hernandez calls isotoner one of her favorite brands. "I've known them since I was a kid. They've just been around forever."
With a brand history stretching back to the 1800s, she's not too far off in that claim. That means they've had plenty of time to perfect their formula for high-quality leather gloves, like this pair that has genuine leather blended with spandex to give you a little extra wiggle room.
If it’s your first time purchasing a pair of leather gloves, Michelle recommends going with a black pair that has touch-screen capabilities. “The neutral color will coordinate with every outfit and your hands will stay warm while using your cell phone,” she said.
Get into fun details like the rows of contrast stitching and shearling sheepskin trim at the cuffs with these lambskin leather gloves. Inside, you’ll find cashmere lining that will keep your hands extra cozy.
These Coach gloves are made with 100 percent leather and lined with 100 percent merino wool, qualities that satisfy both Hernandez and Michelle’s recommendations for a quality pair. Plus, they come in three classic colors: black, brown and wine.
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- 11 best shoes for walking in snow and ice in 2021