A new summer is about to start, so it’s time to roll back the cabri-oh-let roof, tug the Cots-i-woldie Tweed flat cap into place and – hold on, something is missing (apart from shoes and other clothing articles). Yes! Driving gloves.
The string back leather driving glove comes from an era when sales people talked of progressing to the next trim level, the three point walk around and referring to ‘something for the little lady’. It is part of infeasibly hairy chests exposed with no warning, usually adorned by Gold. Lots of Gold.
For those getting quite hot under the Ghia, there is the point of titans of motor sport such as the late Sir Stirling Moss used to drive with the all-important cork lined leather helmet (to prevent injury to insects as they impact), aero goggles and…. yes…. leather driving gloves. Then again, these very talented and brave drivers sat in baking hot cabins with almost no protection from anything above the waist.
So, how on earth did it migrate from functional leather gloves to open fingered cotton gusseted string-backed confections? It all harks back to style, when those who provided high quality and not such high-quality aftermarket things practically invented items of little practical value, to get sales. Think Apple, in the 1950s. So we see string backs to help prevent the hands from sweating, but do allow a good dose of sun burn. We see leather seams pointed, with the precision of inter-continental ballistic missiles in all directions to reduce discomfort during those thrilling ‘what the hell are you doing, Campden!’ moments as grip tightens on the wood rimmed Nardi steering wheel.
Of course, the leather works with the polished steering wheel rim like leather soled shoes on ice. Or aluminium pedals.
So, the fuzzy retro-style image endures of the serious driver with serious driving gloves.
Now, I’m off in the Jag with the ‘little woman’ to a golf club. Not a member, but I usually shout and then manage to blag a spot on the green. Just putting on the gloves. The cotton gussets are a bit tight. Hold on. And push. And there. Just got to get the flat cap on, even though the Old Girl is a Series I XJ6. No polo shirt. No trousers. No shoes. Just a flat cap, heft Gold watch, Gold medallion and driving gloves. Do you think anyone will notice?