Hands down, the hottest new accessory this season is the glove. Gloves have always provided the finishing touch to any costume, but now they can do even more. They go to all lengths, adding a brilliant shock of color to any costume. A coat that's been in the closet for years looks totally refreshed when worn with bright colored knit gloves, for example. It works for men, too.

Gloves were a status symbol for the gentry in the 19th century. It wasn't until the mid-1960s, when practicality rather than protocol took over fashion, that many men and women put away their gloves.

So take up the gauntlet and try some gloves -- even some gauntlets. Or lace or knit gloves. They've become so expensive you are not likely to leave them on the bus this time around. And they'll also keep your hands warm. CAPTION: Picture 1, La Crasia red leather gauntlet gloves with black bow at Bloomingdale's ($110) with supersize martini glass of Swedish crystal by Orrefors at Ursell's ($23); wine and olive leather gauntlet gloves ($42) by Anne Klein at Neiman-Marcus with Austrian crystal wine glass at Georgetown Coffee, Tea & Spice ($16).; Picture 2, Tan knit gloves by Emanuel Ungaro at Garfinckel's ($28) with Valkris cup and saucer ($15) at Cornelia Wickens Liberty; angora gloves ($15) by Halston at Bloomingdale's with Runnymede Wedgewood bone china cup and saucer ($63) at Woodward & Lothrop.; Picture 3, Gray leather padded ski glove by Conroy Gloves and Mittens from The Ski Center ($39.50) with green ceramic mug at Conran's ($1.95); yellow nylon padded ski gloves at Hecht's ($11) with Jurg Lanzrein's ceramic cup and saucer ($50) at Dolly Kay Designs, Ltd.; Picture 4, I. Magnin's black lace gloves ($14) with Colony champagne glass from Ursell's ($6.50); Neiman-Marcus men's white leather formal gloves with pearl button snap ($40) with French cognac glass (4 for $32) at Ursell's. PHOTOGRAPHS BY RAY LUSTIG