Glove Etiquette: The Top 7 Things To Know

By: Maralee McKee

Let’s talk about glove etiquette, including dress gloves, winter gloves, and wearing gloves during flu season. See the end of this article for surprising advice on wearing gloves for protection from viruses.

Today’s reader question about glove etiquette is one that I almost didn’t answer via the blog.


Well, it’s about a subject in etiquette that essentially doesn’t apply anymore. The reader is asking about the etiquette of wearing dress gloves. They fell out of favor decades ago as a fashion staple, and today they’re even rare as a fashion accessory.

Glove Etiquette Was Once Something Every Lady Knew Well 

I remember that, when I was a little girl, my mom would go to Sears every Easter and buy my dress, white patent-leather shoes, and a pair of gloves. She had a couple of pairs herself. They were laid out perfectly in a flat, dark red box with inlaid, fancy gold writing.

I was too young to read what the box said, but I remember carefully taking the gloves out of the tissue-paper-lined box and putting them on, one finger at a time. My five-year-old fingers stopped about where my mom’s knuckles would be, so the end of each finger of the glove flopped back and forth. I would giggle, all the while feeling very grown up!

Ever since wearing the dress gloves at five years old, I wanted to learn the etiquette of these timeless fashion icons. And when I learned the etiquette, I wanted to pass it on to you. If you are invited to just one formal meal, tea, or even a costume party and purchase a pair of gloves on-line for the occasion, you’re going to enjoy knowing what jewelry to wear with them and what to do when shaking hands and eating.

Glove etiquette evolved through the centuries and decades, like all of etiquette, to fit the sensibilities of the current generation.

The tips below are the most modern. They come from the last decade of glove wearers, about the time that Mrs. Brady and Alice and the three Brady girls stopped wearing theirs to Sunday services.

Dear Maralee,

Absolutely love your blog! I have a question about wearing gloves. When wearing them to a reception, etc., when you’re going through the receiving line, do you remove your gloves before going through the line, or do you keep them on while shaking hands? What about when eating? In general, what do I need to know about glove etiquette?

Glove Etiquette — Here Are Your Top Seven Tips for Becoming Glove Savvy:

1.)  Gloves can remain on in both the receiving line (you’re the host) and the reception line (you’re the guest).

2.)  You may wear your gloves when shaking hands, except when meeting the President, the First Lady, or a high-ranking church or government official. When you shake hands, make sure that you’re standing. Here’s the modern etiquette of When To Stand and Why. 

3.)  Remove your gloves before eating anything, either at or away from the table.

4.)  At the table, lay your gloves on your lap, with your napkin laid over them.

5.)  Your watch and rings are worn under your gloves. Bracelets can be worn over gloves, although many fashion experts say gloves look best by themselves.

6.)  Gloves are not worn while dancing. (It’s more intimate if you’re touching your partner hand-to-hand, instead of glove-to-hand.)

7.)  Today, gloves are rare fashion accessories only for special events; they’re not part of our everyday wardrobes. You wouldn’t wear them to work in a typical office. If you do, make sure to remove them before shaking hands with anyone.

Grace Note: 

If you’re wearing gardening gloves or any type of work glove, remove them before shaking hands. Remove winter gloves before shaking hands, but only if it’s convenient and quick to do so. 

Will Wearing Gloves Protect Us from the Coronavirus or Other Viruses and Germs?

Sadly, the answer is no. Even though the Queen wore them while shaking hands as part of an official ceremony in March of 2020 (the first time she had done so since the 1950s), they are NOT a deterrent for spreading or catching the coronavirus or any virus or germ.

You see, the gloves become a type of second skin for us. As soon as we touch our face, whatever is on the glove is transferred in the same way it would be if we touched our face with our bare hands. Gloves offer us or others no protection, and in a way, they can make things worse by giving us a false sense of safety.

Doctors and other medical workers wear gloves because they don’t want to spread the germs on their skin to their patients, but coronavirus does not spread from the skin; it is transmitted through the air. So wearing gloves is not the solution to this virus outbreak.

Here are additional tips for interacting graciously with others while helping to keep yourself and those you love safe from the coronavirus or other strains of the flu and common cold.



A Skin Safety and Beauty Benefit of Wearing Gloves

Gloves keep our hands shielded from the sun while driving. Most of us wear lotion or foundation with an SPF on our face and neck, but our hands are left unprotected for the most part.

Wearing driving gloves will help prevent premature aging and small brown spots of the hands and wrists due to sun exposure. Plus, while wearing them, we get to bring out our inner Aubrey Hepburn! 

Until next time, keep doing what you were born to do. Bless those around you by being authentically you…at your best!


Maralee McKee

About Maralee McKee

Maralee McKee is the founder of Manners Mentor. With her best-friend style, sense of humor, and knack for updating etiquette to meet our modern sensibilities, she has been referred to as "Sandra Bullock meets Emily Post!" Maralee shows you how to become the best version of yourself. No fluff. No pretense. Just you at your authentic best! The person you were always meant to be! To learn more about Maralee click on the "Meet Maralee" or "New? Start Here" links at the top of this page.

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