Aprons came about out of necessity. Users never had the luxury of a large wardrobe, washing clothes everyday was not an option so a cover worn over clothes to protect them from being soiled and hence the apron was born. Coming from the old French word “Naperon”, meaning a small tablecloth or napkin. Maybe once per week you would wash and dry clothes, being smaller in scale and quicker to dry every couple of day’s aprons received a good cleaning.
Aprons became not only a necessity but also a fashion statement by Housewives, Teachers, Children, Secretaries and Cobblers worn every day. Styles and lengths changed often, some with cinched waist, no waists, trims, pockets, white, colors various materials, all were expressive and loved by the wearers. Some of the first aprons constructed used feed and seed sacks, when showing signs of wear the sacks became parts to a patchwork quilt.
In the 40’s and 50’s, they became popular, used to advertise women selling irons, kitchen appliances, food products and more. Later television shows with Moms wearing aprons appeared and were popular, seen weekly on shows like “Leave it to Beaver”, “Father know Best” how about Alice wearing one with the “Brady Bunch”. Later message aprons appeared, “Kiss the Cook”, and Barbeque slogans.
I remember Dorothy’s Gingham blue and white apron in the Wizard of Oz, Disney’s Cinderella’s apron, and my dear Grandmas’ aprons, always part of her daily clothing. There were times Grandma would not only wear while cooking; she wore hers to clean, sometimes using the corner to dust off the windowsills, tables and banisters. I remember days playing outside seeing her pick tomatoes, vegetables and flowers bringing them inside tucked away in her apron for safekeeping. How about using her apron to wipes noses and tears away and even cleaning and drying her hands? Wow today due to our knowledge of sanitation practices and the why and how, this would be frowned upon. Somehow, we luckily survived. Just for fun, share with us some of your fond memories of an aprons use.
Aprons were used by Glassmakers, Masons, Woodworkers, Barbers, Beauticians, Mechanics, Welders, Cobblers, Sculptors, Farmers, Florists, Make-up artists, Gardeners, Maids, Nurses, Blacksmiths, Line cooks, Carpenters, Artists, Chefs and the Beloved Homemaker.
As for their uses, aprons became a first line of defense against splashes, stains and messes and possible burns. Aprons also served as baskets gathering firewood, crops and eggs. Whoever thought of this, was a genius. We are not sure of the year, but a big Thank You.
Today aprons are available in many styles, lengths, fabrics and colors. Aprons keep our clothes clean, and are now becoming fashion statements in restaurants and our individual homes.