The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

The Best Men’s Leather Gloves, Hands Down

During a January jaunt to New York City, my man and I enjoyed an afternoon beverage on the rooftop of our friend’s brownstone. It was frigid outside, but we were comfortably swaddled in goose down and blessed with an outpouring of rare winter sunlight. But after about 20 minutes, I caught an amused expression on my husband’s face.

“What’s up?” I asked him.

He looked back at me and smirked. “Notice anything strange about the people walking by?”

I gazed at the sidewalk three stories below us. A steady stream of people were striding past in that telltale Manhattan run-walk, huddling against the cold into the collars of their parkas and peacoats. I watched for a few minutes, but nothing particularly stood out about them to me.

My husband elbowed me. “None of them are wearing hats,” he said.

I stared at him saucer-eyed, then looked back down again. It was a good three minutes of steady foot traffic before I finally spotted a pedestrian with their head covered. We laughed and shook our heads, which, naturally, were cozy in Finnish merino wool beanies. Then something else occurred to me:

“I wonder how many of them are wearing gloves.”

Laughing at the absurd ways of city folk is undeniably one of the delights of living in the woods. But before we moved there, we both spent time living in cities, and I’ll confess that in those days, I almost never wore a hat either, and definitely never wore gloves. I can remember trying to swipe a Metro card or count out change for a coffee with cold, rigid fingers, and the way walking into a warm building triggered a painful red flush that had to be endured before my hands were thawed enough to be put to use.

Why, fellow city dwellers, why do we do this to ourselves? Unless you live in the Southwest (and sometimes even there), walking outside in winter without gloves is, frankly, crazy. If the weather is such that you wouldn’t go outside without wearing socks and shoes, why insist on letting your upper extremities suffer the cruelties of the wet, cold, and wind?

The old saw about losing the majority of your body heat through your head has been disproven. The reality is that you lose the same amount of heat through any exposed skin on your body — if your hands are bare, you’re losing heat. Furthermore, an Australian study showed that the hands and feet are very efficient heat exchangers, and subtle changes in blood flow in the hands can make or break your thermal homeostasis, i.e., how warm you’re able to stay.

So why aren’t New Yorkers wearing gloves? For that matter, why aren’t you? Sure, gloves can be cumbersome — one more thing to put on and take off. Being as there are two of them, they’re easy to lose or leave behind. But let’s be honest, shall we? None of those are the real reason people don’t wear gloves. They don’t wear them because gloves don’t look good.

“The beauty of dress gloves is their versatility.”

While sport gloves or work gloves preserve your digital dexterity with thick lining, waterproofed exteriors and reinforced palms, “streetwear” gloves rarely combine good looks with effective thermal protection. Generally speaking, you’ve got a choice between chunky knitted mitts that don’t pair well with grown-up fashion, or driving gloves made from thin, unlined leather that are pretty to look at but impractical in the cold.

If you’re out there suffering from frostbitten fingers, we’re here to help. It’s time for you to discover the world of dress gloves. Made for the style-conscious urbanite who isn’t above nodding to trends, the category of dress gloves is narrow, but the offerings are broad and inclusive. You can find dress gloves at online outlets like Huckberry as well as department stores like Bergdorf Goodman — basically, wherever you shop for quality goods.

To help spread the gospel of dress gloves, I spoke with Todd Katz and Max Kestenbaum at Hestra. While you know Hestra as the first name in athletic gloves, the company has in fact been making beautiful dress gloves since the 1940s. For years, Hestra dress gloves were funneled quietly into niche markets mainly in Europe. However, as the market for Hestra’s dress glove line has grown, the brand’s collection has expanded, ranging from rugged dress-sport hybrids to the exclusive Table Cut collection. Keep reading for a better understanding of what to look for in a quality pair of dress gloves, as well as a shortlist of our favorites from Hestra and elsewhere.

The Manual: Where and when are dress gloves essential?

Hestra Team: The beauty of dress gloves is their versatility. We find that our clients use unlined or knitted gloves in the fall and early winter for driving and complementing an outfit for urban nights out. In the colder months, they transition to lined gloves for everything from driving to aprés to cleaning off the car after a snowstorm. At the highest level, we see many commuters using our Dress line.

TM: What are some things that men should look for in a good dress glove? How can you know that you’re paying for quality?

Hestra: It all starts with materials. Leather is our favorite material and each piece is inspected by our owners at Hestra’s Swedish HQ before they are sent out to our company-owned factories. Each leather has an ideal use and it is the glove maker’s task to determine it. Secondarily, the construction of the glove is exceedingly important. Hestra employs two master certified glove cutters, of which there are less than 100 in the world. That level of care and quality permeates the entire organization and the result is gloves that will last for years.

TM: How does Hestra make its dress glove line?

Hestra: Hestra has an undying passion to do one thing and do it well. In an era of consolidation, mass production, and diminishing quality, we are proud to be family-owned for 80-plus years and to fully focus on perfecting our craft. The resurgence of maker culture has raised up a new generation of doers who appreciate the dedication to craftsmanship at the highest level and we serve these users with gratitude.

Each glove’s elasticity and lengthways stretch is checked by a glove cutter to ensure the perfect fit. After a little while, however, the glove will “flow,” which means that the elasticity is transferred to the glove’s length rather than its width. This is entirely normal. To achieve its original fit, simply stretch the glove over the edge of a table. Hold the fingertips of the glove with one hand and the cuff opening with the other. Then stretch gently with the upper hand against the edge of the table. Repeat for the other fingers. Start at the bottom of the finger and work out to the fingertip with four or five strokes. Finally, do the same with the thumb. The elasticity of the leather will return to the original condition created by the glove cutter during the cutting process.

TM: How can you best maintain dress gloves? Are there any big cautions as far as their use or care?

Hestra: Our gloving leather is drum dyed for a delightful color depth but the lack of a sprayed color finish implies that it is also sensitive to humidity or rain. If your gloves do become wet, there are some possibility that dark stains may appear, especially for brighter colors. Hairsheep is the most sensitive, while peccary, deer, and elk tolerate it better. We simply recommend you to take off your gloves while it is raining. They can be dried flat at room temperature, if wet. Keep them away from any source of heat, as the leather can dry out and become stiff.

Our Table Cut gloves are made from the finest natural materials. But to retain their original appearance, they need to rest from time to time – similar to fine footwear; damp leather wears more quickly than it does when it is dry. Our advice is therefore that where possible you should allow a day between wearings and alternate with other gloves.

Best Men’s Leather Gloves

Top Pick: Hestra Oliver Glove

Hestra Oliver Glove

Made from sustainable Scandinavian elk skin, these gloves have it all: style, warmth, functionality, and staggering quality. The lustrous beauty of the leather exterior hides a warm rib-knit wool lining, making them as cozy as the mittens your grandma made by hand. With a touchscreen-enabled index finger and a Velcro wrist closure for windproof security, the Hestra folks have left no detail forgotten (as usual).

Classy Casual: Best Made Co. Lined Deerskin Roper Gloves

Best Made Co. Lined Deerskin Roper Gloves

Elegant and functional in equal measure, the sustainably harvested deerskin of these gloves offers a luxuriously soft feel, but also supple resilience in the face of hard work. Seamless palm construction minimizes abrasion, while fleece lining and shirred wrists guarantee warmth and comfort.

Work-Ready: Carhartt Insulated System 5 Driver Work Gloves

Carhartt Insulated System 5 Driver Work Gloves

If fine materials make you a little nervous, pop your mitts into these function-forward dress gloves. Sturdy and thick without being overly bulky, the pebbled leather of these gloves provides exceptional traction for whatever you put your hand to.

Phone Friendly: Fly Hawk Leather Thinsulate Touchscreen Gloves

Can’t keep your hands off your phone? These breathable Nappa leather gloves are enabled with nanotechnology, enabling precision touchscreen control on all ten figures and even the palm. As if that weren’t enough, the fleece lining and knitted cuff provide reliable warmth and comfort.

Bargain Buy: Guide Gear Men’s Cashmere Lined Lamb Leather Gloves

Guide Gear Men’s Cashmere Lined Lamb Leather Gloves

A classic, handsome fit on the outside, sinfully soft cashmere on the inside—what more could you ask for? The amazing comfort of these 100% lamb leather gloves is undergirded with an elastic band that ensures they stay put.

Splurge: Hestra Carpincho Handsewn Cashmere Glove

Hestra Carpincho Handsewn Cashmere Glove

If looks are your top priority for a pair of dress gloves, then look no further. Hestra’s glove makers take South American carpincho nubuck, a leather where the grain has been ground down for a suede-looking feel, and cut it according to a 17th-century French technique. With its subtle dotted texture set off by three decorative stitches, this ultra-fine leather gets softer and more supple each time you wear it — good news, since you’re going to want to show these off every day. But rest assured, these gorgeous gloves don’t require you to suffer — an ultra-thin cashmere lining ensures your digits stay dry and toasty.

Editors' Recommendations