What are fingerless gloves? Why wear and use them.

Growing up, most of us have seen people, in real life or on TV, wearing gloves that didn’t have fingers. At a young age, it might have been baffling why would anyone choose to wear something that didn’t make sense.

Maybe it was just a fashion statement, a trend as we saw in the 80s with Billie Idol and Madonna, but with time you surely have seen several types of fingerless gloves worn by drivers, golf players, cyclers, weight lifters, fishermen, hikers, and, in recent years, celebrities like Karl Lagerfeld, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna, Bella Hadid and many more.

Most might still think it’s a useless piece of clothing, and are puzzled by questions like “Do you want to keep your hands warm, but not your fingers?”, or “Why wear them in summer when it’s hot?”.

And that’s what we want to show and explain. Their purpose.

This article is divided in sections. Click/tap on one of the titles below to jump to the desired info.

1. Short history
2. What is their purpose
3. Types
4. Extra features
5. When to use

First, a brief history

Some documented use of gloves is found in ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, and the Middle Ages. These were boxing gloves, gardening sleeves, and gauntlets – as a part of a soldier’s armor, and were used by men.

In the 13th century, ladies began to wear linen and silk gloves as a fashion statement. To restrain vanity, some laws at that time forbid the purchase of this item, although these regulated consumptions reinforced social hierarchies and discrimination between commoners and aristocrats.

During the 16th century Queen Elizabeth I was the one to set the fashion for wearing opulent gloves that were abundantly jeweled and embroidered. Men started wearing leather gloves, and many makers of knitted silk or wool gloves appeared.

In the 1700s, because short sleeve dresses came into fashion, women's gloves became longer, almost reaching the shoulder, and by the early 19th century, for more freedom in movement, ladies began to wear fingerless gloves. Often called mitts, these were popular in Colonial America and were made out of leather, silk, or lace - if the weather or climate was hotter.

Some gloves didn’t have fingers, and some were missing the top half or just the tips. While the first were used by the ladies to show off their jewelry, the second were more on the practical side, being used by men when hunting, by accountants when bookkeeping, and by women when sewing, cooking, or doing housework.

As things evolved, and various activities and sports gained ground, gloves, in general, became more of a functional item.

So, what is the purpose of fingerless gloves?

Their primary advantage is dexterity, as there are plenty of moments when you might need to use your fingers to feel something, push buttons, type on your smartphone, sow, write, draw, pick up, hold, and wield fine objects, etc.

The second benefit you get is protection, as while you’re doing your thing, even if your fingers are exposed, your hands are safeguarded by the elements – cold weather or sun rays.

To make things easier for you to understand where and how you can use this accessory, we grouped and arranged everything by 3 major characteristics: extra features, when to use, and types of fingerless gloves.

Appearance and design

We currently know of 4 types:

1. Long finger - covers the wrist, palm, and ¾ of the finger length
2. Half finger - covers the wrist, palm, and half of the finger length
3. Short finger - covers the wrist, palm, and ¼ of the finger length
4. Warmer / Mitten - covers the wrist, palm knuckles, and partially the thumb, or has a slit for the thumb

You can also find a tube that you can slide your hand through, but it’s just that: a tube. It’s more like a sleeve, and not a form of glove and it’s called a wrist warmer or cuff.

Added features

Various activities and sports need the fingerless design for dexterity, but depending on what you use them for, the gloves can be enhanced with some important details like:

Velcro strap

Some gloves have a very short wrists, like the ones for cycling, motorcycle riding, airsoft, golf, tennis, etc. In these cases, the item needs to be fitted, but the short wrist allows it to move or fall off.

A Velcro strap placed on the wrist or the back of the palm helps tighten everything up and makes the glove stay in one place for as long as you need it.

Vents / Perforations / Mesh lining

Thicker gloves, made from leather or with multiple layering, trap heat and moisture. To minimize sweating and allow the skin to breathe, vents and perforations are made to release the heat and favor airflow circulation.

You can find this kind of feature on golfing, weight lifting, motorcycle, and airsoft gloves. These can very well work for other activities where the intense use of the hands generates high temperatures.

Pull tabs or strings for easy on/off

In some cases, it’s essential to have a firm grip in what you’re doing, and for that, you need a fitted glove that doesn’t move around the hand.

Since anything fitted is a bit harder to dress up, a pull tab or string makes it easier for you to slip on or take off.

Padded areas

When doing activities that intensely use the palms and you need more grip than anything else, padding comes into play. It can be thinner or thicker, depending on the amount of shock they need to protect your palm from.

Designed to cover specific areas of the palm and fingers, this lining protects your hands from suffering injuries like blisters and callouses while driving, rowing, fishing, riding a bike, using a wrench, etc.

When, where, and what for...

We’re sure you mostly saw fingerless gloves worn in cold weather, but also in high temperatures as well. Their construction, design, and extra features can tell you how you can use them – at work, doing sports and other activities, and even around the house.

During winter

Made from wool, acryl, nylon, or polar fleece, they can be worn inside your home if your thermostat is set to a lower temperature, and outside in the cold - although in this instance, it’s best to have an extra layer of insulation.

The ones used indoors have long wrists (almost near the elbow), cover the palm’s knuckles and the thumb, and are usually lighter with no extra lining.

Outdoor fingerless gloves are thicker, fitted, and have more lining. The cuff covers more of the wrist, the fingers are half or ¾ covered, and may have the thumb fully “dressed”.

Some variations include a flap that you can slip over your fingers to get complete protection against the cold. These are usually called fingerless gloves with mitten cover, or clamshell mittens.

They’re designed, by the choice of fabrics and the gloves’ thickness, to protect your articulations from the cold, while using the tip of your fingers to pick up or better feel things, type on your keyboard, or navigate on a smartphone.

During summer

At the opposite pole, summer fingerless gloves can be made from cotton, leather, polyester etc. Depending on what you want to use them for, some gloves are thin and lightweight, while others are thicker. Both versions can have one or more extra features you read about above - knuckle protection, vents, padding, etc.

Thicker is used to protect the bones and articulations against forced impact - as seen in activities like shooting sports, or insulate from high-speed winds when motorcycle or ATV riding for a longer time.

Thinner gloves are used in multiple sports and different activities where the flexibility of the wrist and fingers is required, like in fishing, hiking, sailing, kayaking, or even gardening, farming, and mowing the lawn.

Usually, these gloves are designed with a high UPF 50+ fabric that safeguards your skin from harmful UVA and UVB Sun rays that cause skin cancer, sunburn, and sun spots.

But not all fabrics are the same when defending against UV rays.

We've covered the topic in this article >> What kind of clothing is best for sun protection?

And now you know...

Why and how fingerless gloves can help you in various daily tasks, at home or work, or in your favorite sports and activities 😉

Get summer ready! Look after your skin with GOT® shirts, gloves, hats, neck gaiters, and balaclavas.

GOT® UV Guard collection has high UPF 50+ Sun protection (lab tested AATCC 183) and blocks over 98% of the Sun's rays (UVA and UVB), shielding your skin from harmful radiation.


Tags clothing, gloves, hiking, outdoor, summer, winter -

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