Forget about baseball mitts. I will be talking today about the fashion statement for women that has been around since at least the 1600s, and possibly before.
Mitts are gloves with the tips of the fingers and thumb removed. They no doubt have been worn for many reasons through the centuries.
One reason, for both men and women, was to help keep the hands and forearms warm in cold weather while still allowing the use of the fingertips to perform tasks that needed dexterity.
1869 Tea Mitt
Another important reason, especially for women, was because until recent decades, it was not fashionable for women to tan. For many women of European descent, bare skin exposed for even a short amount of time in the sun developed (gasp!) freckles.
Poor women who were required to work in the sun might have skin that was tanned and freckled, but not the "better" class of women.
Gloves were often worn to protect the skin on the back of hands and arms from sun exposure. However, what Southern belle in the heat of a humid summer wanted to wear gloves?
|1860 Medium Silk Mitts-Ctsy Metropolitan Museum|
Hence, the development of mitts. Many of them were solid fabric, even if not heavy for winter wear.
|1830-39 Medium Cotton and Silk-Ctsy Metropolitan Museum|
Many were lacy or a loose crochet to allow air circulation and still provide some sun protection.
|1850 silk- Ctsy Metropolitan Museum|
Plus, as women have a tendency to do, they took what they considered to be a necessary protective clothing item and turned it into a fashion accessory. They were worn evenings, on special occasions, and to complement the rest of their dress.
Not even the babies escaped wearing mitts.
|19th Century Cotton-Linen Christening Mitts|
Although I found several examples of leather mitts, including some lovely embroidered ones, from the 1700's, I limited myself to mitts from the 1800’s.
Zina Abbott wrote for both the Grandma’s Wedding Quilts series and the Lockets & Lace series.
The following are from the Metropolitan Museum collection. Enjoy!
|First Quarter 19th Century Medium Silk|
|Early 19th Century Medium Silk|