Aprons: From Functional to Fashionable

vintage aprons

vintage aprons

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.

Functional Tasks:

  • 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?

fun chicken print apron

fun chicken print apron

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?

Fashionable Features:

  • 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
apron with tulip pocket

apron with tulip pocket

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.

vintage print apron

vintage print apron

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.


27 responses »

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  3. Connie I love your aprons they are just absolutely beautiful and this post is no exception! So glad I got to stop in and read it 🙂 Thanks for linking up to the “From The Farm Blog Hop” and it’s great to see you as always!

    • Thanks Karen. I have a huge collection of vintage aprons and just love rotating through them. I always feel festive when wearing one of them. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  4. I adore my aprons, they hang in my kitchen when not in use and I just admire them even on the wall, when I wear them I feel amazing, in control. and I love and appreciate each stain for it shows hard work that has taken place. Love this post!!!

    • I love my aprons as well. They are well loved and worn frequently. And I also display them in the kitchen on a vintage coat rack so you can see them all the time. Thank you for stopping by!

    • I have always appreciated all the time and effort that went into the making of an apron… especially ones from the 40s and 50s. I feel official while wearing one. I will swing by and check out your post. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. My favorite is my great-grandmother’s smock apron. I still wear it every day in the kitchen and love that I have that connection to her. Makes me think of her every day, wondering what she would have been doing so many years ago in her own kitchen – probably some of the same things I do today (churn butter, make biscuits, fry a chicken fresh from the chicken yard.)

    • How wonderful that you have your great-grandmother’s apron. What a treasure. And I bet you are right that she probably wore it to do the same things you do in your kitchen today.

  6. Love your aprons. I have a couple old ones. I have one tied around an old lamp shade in my sewing room. I also made all the ladies in my family aprons for their birthdays one year including the little girls and all my friends a work apron for the sewing room. It has pocket for a little scissor and a pin cushion attached.

    • Thank you. I really enjoy my vintage aprons. And what a clever idea… tying one around your lampshade. I bet that your friends and family treasure the aprons that you made for them!

  7. I love old aprons but in the mornings before work my choice is the old cobbler’s apron with a button up front. I can take it off without mussing my hair. I’m having a hard time finding them locally or even a pattern.

    • I have a full apron that I made when I was in junior high. It gets brought out for really messy jobs and I just slip it over my head. Glad you have a cobblers apron. Try flea markets or thrift stores for aprons, that is where I usually find them.

    • Oh… the red one is fun. It has such a unique pocket shape and just a sweet little print. I am glad they haven’t gone out of fashion. Several shops in town carry them in fun, fresh prints.

  8. Loved your post and seeing all your beautiful aprons! 🙂
    Even with today’s ‘disposable’ clothing, I like to wear an apron to keep my tops looking nicer longer. They can also serve as a uniform of sorts to help you feel like what you are doing is important.

    • Why thank you. I wish I had more room in the post to display more photos. And I like wearing aprons over my clothes. Even though my everyday clothing is considered wash-and-wear, they stay looking newer longer. And you are right… they do serve as a uniform.

  9. I agree with you, and I love your apron collection. I do hope you will share your post on the annual apron hop on my blog this month.

    My Grandma Pearl always wore an apron. I only saw her without one on Sunday for church or a special occasion, like a wedding. I loved being held in her arms and wrapped up in her soft pretty apron as she read to me.

    My aprons are as much a uniform to me today as I cook, bake, and clean, as my horrible green wool pantsuit was when I had to work as a prison guard years ago. The only difference is that I choose to wear the apron, it’s pretty, and I wear it with pride. Nobody ever says that about a dingy work uniform. 😉

    • I shared this post on your apron hop (what a great idea!). My grandmas, aunts, and mom always wore aprons. In fact, my mom had a few that she wore just on Sundays when making dinner. They were a little fancier than her ‘everyday’ aprons. I still wear aprons and love all the time and work that went into each and every one.

    • Thank you. Many of them are near and dear to my heart as I can still picture my mom wearing most of them. Whenever she was teaching me how to bake or can, she always tied an apron around my waist. With my collection, I pick and choose which style, color, or cut of apron I want to wear. It’s fun!

  10. Great post. I use my apron and my grandmother’s as well. All are pretty to look at. Some are very pretty but not the work horses. For heavy duty work you can’t beat one that has been proven to stand the test of time and get the job done. Love the aprons here.

    • Most of my aprons came from my mom and grandmother. Then there were the ones that caught my eye at thrift stores and garage sales. A few special ones (from my mom) are worn at holidays, but like you, there are a few that I wear frequently… for the messy jobs in the kitchen.

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