It's so cold outside, the air is brittle. How to keep your hands warm and text-ready when fingerless gloves are so, well, 2013?

The trendlet

This winter is about fingerless mittens. They offer the same pointer-finger and thumb dexterity, but with cozier appeal. And this cold-weather season, they are fashionable in standard wrist-length, dramatic elbow-length, and beyond (as in nearly arm-length).

Where's it come from?

Fingerless mittens are a softer, yet stylish evolution of fingerless gloves. The gloves, also called glovelettes, were born out of function, part of the standard uniform of band members who played instruments in the cold, weightlifters who needed to protect the palms of their hands, and bikers who needed to better grip handlebars.

In the 1980s, Madonna turned the rough-and-tumble accessory lacy and fun. And about five years ago, with the advent of texting, fingerless gloves returned to the fashion world.

Coinciding with the text revolution, workout apparel companies such as Athleta and Lululemon Athletica started designing long-sleeve shirts with thumb holes. To keep warm, runners pulled their sleeves as far down on their hands as possible.

Alexander Wang was among the first designers to add fingerless gloves to his edgy, athletic-inspired womenswear. This year, they morphed into mittens as part of Wang's Target collection, which sold out immediately. Other designers, from Helmut Lang to Michael Kors, put out fingerless mittens, too.

Who's wearing them?

Anybody who's cold, but particularly those of us who find ourselves texting, tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, Pinteresting while walking the cold and windy city streets.

Would Elizabeth wear them?

Yes, especially the elbow-length version. They are the perfect combination of cozy and sophisticated - always a personal fashion goal of mine.

Should you wear them?

Yes. No one is too old (or young) for the mitts. Here's a little gloved advice: Shorter fingerless mitts give your distressed jeans an edgier look, while longer-length ones can actually class up your jewel-toned holiday party sheath