Nothing adds a touch of class to driving like leather driving gloves. Not only do they look incredibly stylish but they are also extremely practical, especially in our rather chilly winter and spring mornings. Driving gloves provide extra grip when handling the steering wheel of your car and also protect against dirt. This guide aims to inform you of the key considerations to bear in mind when buying driving gloves and also the reasoning behind their iconic design.

Driving gloves. Source: trashness.com
Driving gloves. Source: trashness.com

History of Driving Gloves

Driving gloves date back to the late 19th century with the appearance of the automobile. Cars were exposed to the elements which meant that the driver would get dirtied from mud and rain. Driving gloves were worn to keep the hands clean whilst driving the car. Not only did they prevent the driver’s hands from getting dirty but they also protected them from the wooden veneer used on the steering wheel and the cold temperatures.

70s Corvette Ad
1970 Corvette Ad: Handle with driving gloves

Driving gloves were extremely popular in the 60s when they were considered a must have fashion accessory. However, their popularity declined with the increase in car heating and non-slip steering wheels. Today, driving gloves are enjoying a resurgence in popularity as we look back at classic styles and incorporate them into our modern looks.

Reviving the look

Whilst we are seeing the spring months making an appearance and the cold winter season gradually fading away, any gentleman that has to wake up in the early mornings is still painfully aware of the stinging cold. And nothing drives this home more than gripping the frozen steering wheel. The reverse is equally as true in the, somewhat irregular, roasting months of the summer, when the steering wheel or gear stick can burn to touch. So for practicality, a good pair of leather gloves are valuable. Now some of you may be sitting there, wondering what is the difference between normal gloves and driving gloves. Well, the differences are subtle but important; allow us to explain.

Driving gloves are designed specifically to enhance the experience of driving and for protection, both for your hands and for your steering wheel. Classic driving gloves focus on tactility to improve grip on the steering wheel. The material used is most often soft leather to allow for flexibility and opt for external seams. This results in a seamless inside, allowing the driver to have maximum sensitivity. The short wrist length of the glove is again to enhance flexibility and movement. A prime example is this pair from Dents:

Dents driving gloves
Dents Men’s Leather Driving Glove, £46.00. Source: dents.co.uk

Styles

There are many different styles of driving gloves available. The best ones to look out for are made of deer, lamb or peccary leather which tend to be the softest. Leather provides the perfect level of insulation from the elements whilst looking incredibly stylish. Avoid buying poor quality leather as it will wear out quicker than high quality versions.

Peccary leather is the rarest, most luxurious and arguably the best leather for driving gloves. Peccary leather originates from South American wild hogs. It is hard wearing and very soft and will last you in good stead.

When choosing a pair of driving gloves it is also important to ensure that they fit properly. They are meant to fit tightly to ensure that you maintain a firm grip of the steering wheel.  If you require extra flexibility and ventilation there are fingerless gloves and also ones with holes for the knuckles. Driving gloves which have holes pressed into the leather allow air to circulate and ventilate the hands. These are perfect for the spring and summer when you want your hands to remain cool.

Black driving gloves
Black: Men’s Black Leather Fingerless Driving Gloves, £69.99. Source: Black.co.uk

Driving gloves are typically available in leather and suede and vary from plain block colours to mixed colours. There are many different factors to consider when choosing the colour of the gloves, such as whether you want to match them to your outfit, your car’s interior or the car’s exterior. Two-tone gloves are a fantastic way of bridging the gap between you and the car.

One of our favourite pairs are from Aspinal of London. Made from Nappa leather which is both soft and durable and punch holes to allow for ventilation. The shape and stitching is clean and stylish and works extremely well with blazers and overcoats.

Aspinal of London Driving Gloves
Aspinal of London: Men’s Leather Driving Gloves, £95.00. Source: aspinaloflondon.com

Final Thoughts

It is safe to say that driving gloves may not be for everyone but it is a look that is growing in popularity. If you do decide to don a pair, remember to invest in  pair with high quality and soft leather. The most important features are durability and flexibility, and a pair with cheap leather will fail in both respects. If you drive a classic vehicle with a vintage ivory and wooden steering wheel, we would highly recommend purchasing a pair in order to protect the steering wheel from your hands. Skin, oils and sweat can damage the materials. If you partake in race days at all, we would also recommend a pair to protect your own skin from the wear and tear involved in throwing a car around a track. Just be sure to remember to match with the correct colours. Black and browns are classic shades that will never go out of fashion.

We want to hear your thoughts…
Do you own a pair of driving gloves?
Do you think they are a worthy investment or has their time passed?
Do you use yours for fashion, function or both?