When aprons first made their appearance in the domestic kitchen, it was to serve a purpose…to keep the wearer clean. At that time, most clothing was handmade and took hours to construct, so if an article of clothing became stained, it was not a matter of simply tossing it out and running down to the store to buy something new. Clothing was meant to last for years and aprons were a way to keep those clothes clean.
Nowadays, most of the clothing we wear is mass-produced and is considered ‘wash and wear’. If something becomes stained or torn, the offending fabric generally is tossed aside and a replacement is purchased without a second thought. With clothing like this, who needs/wants to wear an apron? Do aprons still deserve a place in the modern kitchen?
In my humble opinion, the answer is a resounding yes! I do not view aprons as an oppressive symbol, but rather as a way to recall fond memories of family occasions, special events, and even as a way to express myself through fashion.
Aprons are functional. There are no two ways about it. Consider the following purposes.
- Wipe your hands after a sticky or messy task
- Keep your clothes clean
- Serve as a hot pad
- Used a a towel to soak up spills
- Carry items if the bottom is pulled up to create a ‘pouch’ (and the top is tied at the waist)
Besides being functional, aprons can be a statement of personal style. Imagine the fabric choices. Cotton. Burlap. Felt. Terry cloth. Silk. Tulle. Organza. Denim. And within the types of fabric, there are the color choices. What about a bold red? How about a blue floral print? Maybe a novelty theme: states with their iconic images, dancing coffee cups, barnyard animals, or perhaps an ode to grilling?
Fashion is a wonderful aspect of aprons, whether it is a cute vintage number from the 50’s or a contemporary piece available in stores today. Imagine making or buying an apron to coordinate with your kitchen? Perhaps you want something to not only protect, but highlight a special outfit for swanky events?
- Cuts to flatter (whether to cover a full skirt or a form fitting outfit)
- Decorative rickrack, ribbons, sequins, pompoms, hand embroidery and more
- Coordinating fabrics (if using two or more)
- Hemline shapes: tiered, scalloped, handkerchief, half-moon, and straight
- Pocket shapes: scalloped, floral, hidden, or specialty to match theme of apron
Regardless if you prefer fashion over function, aprons are available to suite your tastes. Thrift stores and antique shops can be a wonderful source for vintage pieces, often at $10 or less. Garage sales can also be a great way to pick up inexpensive aprons at prices less than a thrift store.
If you prefer modern aprons or want to be the first person to wear it, head to your nearest kitchen store. They can often be found with the linens. No kitchen store? No worries. Major department stores that have a kitchen department often carry aprons. And let’s not forget about friends and family members who are handy with a sewing machine. Perhaps they would be willing to make the apron of your dreams?
Remember that there is a purpose to aprons. They should not be relegated to attic. Functional and fashionable, aprons deserve to be worn in today’s kitchen.