Although best known for their classic lingerie, the Van Raalte company manufactured more than just sweet silk and nylon underthings. In fact, in its early days the company specialized in glove making. Fashioned from silk milled in their own Niagara Mills factory, the gloves were billed as stylish and functional accessories whose beauty was rivaled only by their quality.
Van Raalte continued to produce smart silk styles in the 20s and 30s alongside their slips and lingerie pieces. Production increased as the company grew and they began incorporating new materials like rayon into the diverse designs.
A 1949 ad for the numerous nylon styles offer by Van Raalte at the time.
In the early 40s the company began producing gloves manufactured from the incredible new fiber known as nylon. The new material was dyed an array of bright colors and its durable yet elastic quality inspired designers to approach the classic accessory from new angles. Innovative designs included the clever "Hands Off" glove - this two part convertible style featured a removable finger glove worn over a longer sleeve for ease with wear and flexibility.
This ad from 1956 highlights the wide range of colors available. With this many possibilities a woman had no excuse for not matching her gloves to her handbag, shoes and hat, or even her eyes as the ad suggests!
Van Raalte produced gloves well into the 60s, always adapting their materials and designs to maintain contemporary fashions. But as trends evolved, women's gloves fell out of fashion. The proper and elegant look of the 50s and early 60s was replaced by a bohemian style with a much more casual set of aesthetics, and gloves along with hats, girdles, stockings and other hallmarks of femininity lost their place in a woman's wardrobe.
While they are no longer a part of our daily ensembles, gloves have never lost their magic or sophistication. Nothing says class like a woman wearing wrist length white gauntlets in Spring and no evening to the opera would be complete without the drama of a satin over the elbow glove. Forget the manicure, to have allure at your fingertips, invest in stylish gloves!