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The length of a glove is traditionally expressed in “buttons”, an antique French unit of measure which is slightly longer than one inch.

Button measures are customarily taken from the bottom of the thumb seam to the top of the glove, and the actual length of the glove in inches is 6 to 7 inches longer than the length in buttons.

FASHION HISTORY

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  • 2-button: Also known as “shorties”, these are wrist-length gloves, generally 8 to 9 inches long. They differ from 4- button wrist gloves as they softly follow the curve of the hand, and the opening of the glove barely touches the wrist. Sweetly feminine, shorties were a staple for the well dressed women of the past and also considered socially required day wear until the mid-1960’s.

Shorties are beautiful when worn with cocktail length wedding gowns and can be easily removed during your ceremony and held by your bridesmaid. Emily Post would be proud of your ladylike femininity!

  • 4-button: These gloves are 10 to 11 inches long and cover the wrist, reaching a couple of inches up onto the forearm.
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  • 6-button: 12 to 13 inches long, these gloves reach well up onto the forearm. Many “gauntlet” type gloves (i.e., these gloves with flared arm pieces in the style of equestrian gauntlets) are this length. A favorite length for daytime wear.
  • 8-button: 14 to 15 inches long, this type of glove reaches to the upper forearm. This is also known as the “three-quarter” length glove, and is the style worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
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  • 12-button: Approximately 18 to 19 inches long, this type of glove reaches up to and just over the wearer’s elbow. Known as “elbow-length” in common parlance, and many have mousquetaire wrist openings, but not to be confused with the 16-button “classic” opera glove.
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  • 16-button: 22 to 23 inches long – this is the classic OPERA length, and as a general rule comes with the mousquetaire wrist opening. It commonly ends at mid-bicep.
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October 1955 Princess Ira Fürstenburg, dressed in wedding finery, floats in a marriage gondola down the Grand canal through Venice, Italy. She wears Italian made white kidskin opera gloves that flare slightly. They are the longest gloves at 21 button.

  • 21-button: 27 to 29 inches long, this glove generally reaches all the way to the wearer’s armpits. This is possibly the most dramatic length of glove, and is generally worn only with strapless or sleeveless evening outfits.
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The incomparable Audrey Hepburn wearing a spectacular Cecil Beaton gown for the film, My Fair Lady. Her Opera gloves are 16 button length and made from kid leather.  

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