Although society no longer dictated the wearing of gloves for proper ladies and gentlemen in the 1980s, the glove emerged as an accessory of choice for the pop-loving teenager.
Gloves date back to the time of the Greeks, but it was in the 13th century that gloves became a fashion accessory. Queen Elizabeth 1 of England made it a trend in her court to wear gloves that were highly adorned, embroidered and jewelled.
For the boys, they followed the lead of Michael Jackson, who sported one white sequined glove with his black sequined outfit and eventually appeared regularly with his red leather biker jacket and black jeans.
First seen in 1983 on Jackson when he performed on the Motown 25 anniversary television special, the look became his quintessential style. For those who wanted to copy him, whether male or female, wearing a white sequined glove became the look to adopt.
After his untimely death, the white glove was sold to a Hong Kong business man for $420,000 in November 2009, and was called the “holy grail of Michael Jackson gear”.
For the girls, they followed the lead of Madonna, who sported fingerless lace gloves in her early days of music video performance. Madonna sported the style during her Virgin tour of 1984-1985 as well as for her character Susan in the film Desperately Seeking Susan, which was in theatres in 1985.
The gloves, whether black or white, or eventually any colour of the rainbow, also became her signature style, and the one that is still copied when one wants to look like Madonna of the ’80s.
I happily wore the lace gloves, and adding in lace leggings underneath my skirts, as I embraced this trend of the time period. Some of my schoolmates applauded me, some ridiculed me, but I was committed to emulating what I saw on music videos and in pages of fashion magazines.
Still a clothing accessory of protection or warmth, the glove morphed into a symbol of pop culture cool in the 1980s.