Thursday, December 11, 2008

Consider the Driving Glove

Like M.F.K. Fisher considered the oyster, I would like to consider the driving glove. 

The driving glove. It sounds good. But in practice. In 99.5% of execution (excluding Nomex racing varieties while racing which are 100% OK) are so ridiculous as to cause sad aversions of one's gaze when in the presence of a dandy who dons these grippy historical remnants.

Driving gloves were a necessity when you owned a Bugatti with a cord-wrapped wheel and needed to keep the beast on the bumpy two-lane tracks around your Southern France or Northern Scotland manse. You would chaff your lilly white, unworked hands if you didn't. And we couldn't go around shaking the hands of Ladies with a capital 'L' with hands as chaffed as the gardener's could we? No. So the invention of the driving glove in both cold and warm weather varieties. The rope backed warm weather versions being the most offensive. And if you want to be a moll, you can still buy them. I suggest they are even inappropriate for modern iterations of classic races, a la Mille Miglia. 

What makes driving gloves so offensive? Well, it is the open back. I'm sure this had something to do with how the gloves were constructed back when things were done by hand. But, this open back to me always seemed like a woman who wore a too low cut blouse. A bit showy. A bit garish. This peek of flesh is just not fashionable or proper. A hand either needs to be fully protected or it does not. There are no open back rose gloves for gardening.

Note. If you wear open backed driving gloves in a drop top car you will endanger a ludicrous tan. You will look like a cycling tourist with your half moon of tanned skin poking out of your shirt sleeve.

The pictures I posted above have some serious offenses and some acceptable options. The mult-color versions are from Neiman Marcus and so garish I could not even bring myself to link to them. Hunt them out if you must. That is if you want to look like an extra from Breakin' Two Electric Boogaloo.

The brown suede Porsche version is equally offensive but in a Ralph Lauren languid photo-shoot sort of way. These might look OK if smoking one of the oddball Bondian Porsche Design pipes. Maybe. If you were alone. 

Finally, some driving gloves that I approve of. Note, I do not approve of any 'casual' or 'fashion' driving gloves outside of weather above 45 degrees. There is no need. 

The John Lewis black driving gloves are very modern. An urban take on the driving glove. The synthetic back relieves the driving glove of its Achilles heel. The palm is perforated for breathing and thin enough for a good feel on the rim. 

While a bit flashier, dashier but still acceptable are the Jim Clark versions from Griot's. Griot's is the Sharper Image for car buffs and as such has many silly stupid items. But these I believe do a great job of combining the nod to history with a modern touch. They, like the John Lewis items, would go seamlessly from Porsche or Lotus, to train platform clutching your attache to quick five block walk, to your office. 

And that is not a 'driving glove' that is a winter glove that doesn't get in the way of quality drive time.


Anonymous said...

Great story you got here. I'd like to read something more concerning that topic. Thnx for posting that info.
Joan Stepsen
Gadgets and gifts

Anonymous said...

You are overlooking the fact that the string-back portion was made of cotton string which was used by drivers in open-cockpit cars to wipe water from their googles in the rain.