Aprons, What A Concept.

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From the moment I splash water on my face in the morning until I slip back into my sleepwear at bedtime, I’m in some form of street clothes. That includes while I’m home and attending to such tasks as cooking, cleaning, grooming the dogs, etc. This can be tough on clothing.

It’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve (re)discovered aprons. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any; I did. Freebies that came with other purchases, gifts at one time or another, they languished in my linen closet. I’ll admit that until recently, I didn’t give them much thought. Aprons were, in my consciousness, an artifact of a retrograde Donna Reed kind of femininity, and were the province of our mothers’ generation. We stirred our pots of organic lentil soup–and later boeuf bourguignon– unarmored, clad only in our jeans and tee shirts. But then, I got tired of dabbing stain remover on splatters on my favorite tees and one morning while cooking breakfast sausage I extricated one of my aprons from cold storage, and have never looked back. These days I’m rarely without one while at home.

It occured to me recently, after having seen some really cute options at a kitchen store, that they might make really nice holiday or hostess gifts. I prefer “full coverage” aprons, so that’s what I’ve selected here. Pearls and heels optional.

For the very practical and no-nonsense types, one of these striped and pocketed numbers from west elm is just the thing.

west elm striped apron

This one is retro-licious!

Kitchen gadgets apron

For the Francophile:

Modcloth. Trés charmant, non?

Everyone loves owls, right?

Modcloth again. Can’t Stand The Hoot apron in Plus
this is just too darn cute!

For the baker on your list:

Pastry chef
As always, Etsy contains multitudes…
Fuji Afternoon apron
LUURRVE this print!
Coffee cup lined apron
More retro fun. 

Do you wear aprons?  Have a favorite style? How would you feel about receiving one as a gift?

More options:

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68 Comments

  1. November 30, 2012 / 11:48 am

    After I trashed 3 outfits cooking for Thanksgiving, I said to my mother-in-law (who I knew would know where to get the real kind) that I really wanted some aprons for Christmas. She apparently still has a huge assortment of them that belonged to her mother, so when we go to visit in a couple of weeks I will going through them and picking out the ones that are my present. Can’t wait!

  2. November 30, 2012 / 12:03 pm

    Fortunately I have nothing but positive associations with aprons and I love them! I’m not a practical person but wear one most of the time I’m home due to having young children. My mother used to be good at wearing hers but lately I’m having to tie it on her while she’s at the stove cooking. My eldest is a messy eater even at nearly 11 so she knows to wear her small one when eating particularly ‘dangerous’ dishes 🙂 So I would love a new full apron as a gift!

  3. November 30, 2012 / 12:08 pm

    I always wear an apron to do anything more strenuous in the kitchen than make a cup of tea. Mine tend to be more chef-like than frilly, but there are a couple “girly” ones in your selection that I’d love to have.

    BTW, aprons have also made a huge comeback as sewing projects — there are lots of great patterns out there for those who enjoy making their holiday gifts. Amy Butler’s “Domestic Goddess” and Rebecca Ruth Designs’ “Winnie” are just two of the 32 (!) options available at Pink Chalk Fabrics. (They have very cute fabric, too.

  4. November 30, 2012 / 12:29 pm

    I have some plain white aprons that I use for mighty cooking adventures but find the standard neck straps on them too long for my short and girlie frame. what I want is a few of the smock-ish items with pockets that my grandmothers always wore.

  5. November 30, 2012 / 1:18 pm

    I have never worn one – but some of these are cute enough to be party dresses! Love the Etsy Fuji Afternoon.

  6. November 30, 2012 / 1:22 pm

    Just like you, I’m hard on my clothes. Definitely need to get the apron habit.

  7. November 30, 2012 / 1:27 pm

    Love aprons!!! This post is great …. especially loved the Fuji Afternoon apron.

  8. November 30, 2012 / 1:47 pm

    Another example of the syncronicity of our lives – in the last year I suddenly had the urge to buy an apron. Found a cute one on Etsy, kind of retro. Don’t always wear it but it’s good to have for cooking. You’ve kind of reminded me to wear it more often, thank you.

  9. November 30, 2012 / 1:58 pm

    On Thanksgiving, I was wishing that I had an apron. My grandmother always wore them to protect her dresses. I know I have one of hers somewhere. And my husband asked me for one also. I’ve decided to get him a chef’s apron for Christmas since he does most of the cooking. And maybe one for me so I can look kitchen-chic!

  10. November 30, 2012 / 2:00 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. November 30, 2012 / 2:01 pm

    I adore aprons and have three in steady rotation. In fact, I wore my vintage Official Preppy Handbook apron all day on Thanksgiving! My favorite style is the chef’s apron, particularly with pockets–so handy for my phone when my outfit lacks them. I wear them even when I’m not cooking, because they’re just as handy when I’m cleaning (and invaluable when I’m polishing silver.)

  12. November 30, 2012 / 2:02 pm

    I’m a messy cook, so aprons save my clothes. They are also a good way to use prints and colour combinations that are fun but too whimsical for real clothes.

  13. November 30, 2012 / 2:51 pm

    I’m always covered in stains and have been known to strip off if a tomato sauce is on the boil.
    I quite like the crazy retro one at the end.

  14. November 30, 2012 / 2:56 pm

    Many stains later an apron has become a staple in my kitchen, but only white so it can be bleached! The ones pictured are adorable but not practical for this messy cook.

  15. November 30, 2012 / 3:53 pm

    I’m a stay-at-home mom with many kids, so aprons are a necessity. I wear them in the yard to garden, too. My neighbours are all used to seeing me running around the house or garden in an apron!

    I have a collection from Cath Kidston (www.cathkidston.co.uk)that my husband brings home when he works in the UK that I LOVE!!! The oilcloth ones are great for washing up, as I tend to get a wet middle with sink water!

  16. November 30, 2012 / 5:07 pm

    No, I would never ever wear such a thing! As Mette said, I change into home cloths, as soon as I come home. And they can get dirty, no problem. But an apron? Ehhh, no! Gives me the feeling of “old ladies”.

  17. November 30, 2012 / 5:40 pm

    I, too, have a couple in the closet but never wear them. Now isn’t that foolish, I have also splattered oil on my nice clothes. What I usually do is change out of work clothes into t shirts or even pajamas when I get home, but honestly, wouldn’t an apron be more sensible? I wonder I I never wear it!

  18. November 30, 2012 / 5:40 pm

    I love aprons- as a cook by night I rely on them! And as a vintage lover, I can’t help but have a ridiculous collection of them. Love your modcloth picks!

  19. November 30, 2012 / 7:05 pm

    I have several aprons – but even when wearing them I seem to splatter where the apron isn’t. I use an old shirt of my husband’s as it gives me more coverage. I also have 2 smocks which tie in the back and give extra coverage.

  20. rb
    November 30, 2012 / 7:29 pm

    I wear an apron religiously. I tend not to change into “play clothes” when I get home, and I don’t want to ruin my work clothes. Or my play clothes, for that matter.

    I like the Williams Sonoma aprons. They are a unisex size and as such cover a lot of area. They’re made of a thick fabric. They look like the West Elm example you provide.

  21. November 30, 2012 / 8:02 pm

    Yes, I wear aprons. I wear them whenever I cook AND when I eat at home alone! Most of my aprons are fairly utilitarian (from Williams Sonoma) but I have one that was made by a man in Central Texas which I wear when we are having a party (and I am cooking). Like you, I did not wear them when I was younger, but got tired of dealing with stains.

  22. November 30, 2012 / 8:04 pm

    I want to add: I have some beautiful aprons which were made by my Polish grandmother. They have very deep crocheted trim across the bottom. Unfortunately, they don’t provide full coverage, so I don’t wear them for cooking. Most of my splatters have been on top, so an apron from the waist down doesn’t do the job.

  23. Kate
    November 30, 2012 / 12:08 pm

    Aprons came out in full force at Thanksgiving, my sister thought it was funny, but I wear a cobblers aprons alot when I am cleaning the house or cooking,

  24. November 30, 2012 / 8:09 pm

    I wear them when I bake, but not as often when I cook. I did wear them a lot when my children were babies, what with all the spitup and baby food mess. I really should wear them more often nowadays. My daughter has a little pink one from Williams-Sonoma, and my son has asked me to make him one as well. I think I’ll sew one for him before Christmas.
    My favorite was a freebie from a vendor at a library conference. I love its bright red color!

  25. MJ
    November 30, 2012 / 8:11 pm

    I wear an apron fairly frequently when I’m cooking, even if I’m wearing casual clothes – I don’t want to bother trying to get stains out of even my cheap t-shirts. I almost always choose the one my late mother-in-law made for me the first year my husband and I were married, many decades ago; bless her heart, she made one for him also, although he doesn’t use it much. Every time I wear it I think of her fondly. Having seen rubiatonta’s reference to Pink Chalk Fabrics and this being Friday afternoon, I have just bought fabric and patterns from them to make aprons for my son and daughter-in-law as Christmas gifts. I had been toying with the idea anyway, and your post, her comment, and the cute fabrics on the website (plus not having to get in the car to go to a fabric store) were just the push I needed.

  26. November 30, 2012 / 8:45 pm

    An apron is my cooking uniform and I have two which I rely and depend on.
    That West Elm one looks like my idea of one with style that would keep splatters at bay.
    It took me years to resort to full aprons as I thought them rather matronly but when you consider how many tops I had to discard because of stains it just made sense.

  27. sisty
    November 30, 2012 / 1:23 pm

    Oh, yes. I wear aprons from the minute I know I’m going to be anywhere near the kitchen, and often forget to take them off until I’m changing my clothes for bed. Aprons became indispensable about 6-7 years ago when both my sons were working in a bakery and were bringing their plain white aprons home for washing. That’s the style I favor (coffee cup and West Elm examples) and don’t care much about color or print.

    I would love one as a gift from one of my boys, or a friend. I’m not sure whether I’d love one from my husband.

  28. Kathy
    November 30, 2012 / 1:36 pm

    They’re really cute, and I’m sure practical, but I’ve never worn one. I get lots of stains on favorite shirts, etc., so maybe I should give it a try?

  29. November 30, 2012 / 9:40 pm

    No need for aprons here since I never go to the kitchen except to get Diet Snapple out of the fridge! 😀

  30. November 30, 2012 / 10:04 pm

    That Fuji Afternoon apron is so cool! Clearly aprons, in the hands of crafters, are having a moment. Like teatowels, many people use ratty ones and are delighted to get a fresh new one. I like mine in oilcloth, so they don’t stain and stand up to the rigors of my sauce-making.

  31. mette
    November 30, 2012 / 2:06 pm

    It´s the custom here in Finland to change into ” home clothes ” returning home from where ever. I do it immediately without effort.
    But, an apron gets use sometimes, and I would not want to be without one.

  32. Adrienne Shubin
    November 30, 2012 / 2:33 pm

    I find it very difficult to cook without an apron. When I don’t wear one, I feel uncomfortable – as if I am riding in a car without a seatbelt. That being said, you would think I owned cute ones, like the aprons you featured. But I don’t. Mine are stained, faded and plain worn out. Maybe it’s time to treat myself to something adorable!

  33. Marguerite
    November 30, 2012 / 2:35 pm

    I love and use aprons frequently. My step daughter worked in a lovely kitchen and gift store for years while she was a student. As a result, I have quite a collection! I prefer the chef style over the neck with the big pocket on the front. Fun to collect on trips, too.

  34. Anonymous
    December 1, 2012 / 12:14 am

    Chef style aprons save my clothes. I really don’t care much about the style. It has to cover, hold a tea towel/ kitchen
    Towel be very washable. They save clothes! How could you not appreciate aprons????
    New England.

  35. tammy Silverstyle
    November 30, 2012 / 4:42 pm

    You have shown some fine examples. Don’t forget the men in your life. I know more men than women that can whip out some belly pleasing food!

  36. Sue K
    November 30, 2012 / 4:56 pm

    I collect vintage aprons and actually use them to decorate my kitchen. This year I have made “mommy and me” aprons for my daughters and their little girls as early Christmas presents. Early…so they can use them to bake Christmas cookies! I mentioned this to my hair sylist and she loved the idea and wished someone had done that for her when her daughter was young. So I will be making two more; one for her and one for her adult daughter.

  37. December 1, 2012 / 1:36 am

    What a delicious post!

    Actually, not long ago I fell madly wildly passionately in love with a flirty, fire engine red apron, with a ruffled skirt and… yes indeed… high heels on the fabric!

    (It’s actually posted on my Daily Plate of Crazy FB page at the moment.)

    I don’t wear it when I cook except for special occasions (I don’t want to dirty it), but when I do wear it – I adore it. I feel flirty, fun, and I cook in heels in that apron!

    Somewhere, our 50s television icons (and perhaps our mothers) are grinning…

  38. Sarah
    November 30, 2012 / 7:38 pm

    Have to say I ADORE aprons of all kind and would not even attempt to start cooking without one. Even though my EX-husband once gave me one for Xmas (after we had divorced) with (old) Trouts on it…. actually it’s one of my favourites now! X

  39. Anonymous
    December 1, 2012 / 3:49 am

    As Mette, “home clothes” are essential — can’t phantom doing chores, cleaning, pet care, cooking in work or other nice clothing: more stains, sweat, fur, wrinkles, perish the tought… and love aprons!

  40. Anonymous
    December 1, 2012 / 3:50 am

    “thought”!

  41. California Girl
    November 30, 2012 / 8:00 pm

    I still wear my mother’s 30 year old apron which does not, by a long shot, look like ANY of those cute things above. It’s my defense against splattery cooking. I love the idea of aprons but I have to keep my neck & shoulders covered too. Yes. I’m that kind of cook.

  42. nina
    November 30, 2012 / 8:04 pm

    I will wear the Williams Sonoma ones for show.. but that is it! 🙂

  43. December 1, 2012 / 4:21 am

    I love your apron photos! I have quite the collection because of my estate sale habit. Sometimes I can’t resist! I have given aprons for gifts, especially during the holidays, and they have always been appreciated. Maybe I’ll do a post on some of my favorites in the future!

  44. Carolyn from Oregon
    December 1, 2012 / 5:12 am

    I love the coffee cup apron. I can’t live without aprons and I love them as gifts if they are sturdy enough for cooking and truly washable. You can get tiny holes in knit tops by rubbing up to stone countertop edges – I have to wear aprons to keep from ruining all my t-shirts.

    I sometimes buy barrista/waiter type aprons in restaurant supply stores – I especially like the short ones.

  45. Woodencanoe
    December 1, 2012 / 9:07 am

    For Christmas last year I dug out my cotton fabric stash that I’d purchased in Hawaii the year before.
    In the end I made 22 full coverage aprons of my own design. I’ve always loved wearing a full apron but didn’t like the feel of the halter strap around my neck. So I created one with straps that start in the same place, go over your shoulders and cross at the back and then come through grommets at your waist on either side and then you can tie it in the front or back. Big divided pocket in the front as well. With this arrangement the apron is adjustable for almost any size of cook, artist, woodworker, etc. Also ended up lining them all as well so they were reversible. Some with a plain side and some with patterns on both sides. Even the men were given some. Also made matching oven mitts for about half of them. The ones for the smallest children I made as a Montessori apron that have one wide velcroed strap that they can do up themselves.
    That was the biggest sewing project I’ve ever done for gifts. I usually make the bulk of my gifts but most often out of wood. I live in my aprons too. Now I wish I’d taken photos of all the ones I made, especially the ones made from the indigenous Hawaiian fabric. Next time!

  46. Viktoria
    December 1, 2012 / 1:22 am

    Yes! I have two very smart denim aprons in the kitchen that are in constant rotation, and a utility apron for cleaning the house, with pockets for hoover attachments, rags and such. My husband leaves money all over the house, and that apron always has loose change in it! I rarely wore aprons while cooking before, but as I have become more interested in clothes and value what I wear more, it has become a necessity. Fun post!

  47. Cornelia
    December 1, 2012 / 1:52 am

    I cook a lot, bake a lot, and my apron is part of me. Utilitarin style with strings long enough to wrap around to fasten a tea towel. When it is time to sit down to supper I am fairly clean even in my home clothes. Nothing like wet dough stuck to you…

  48. Val Sparkle
    December 1, 2012 / 3:01 am

    Obviously this is a popular subject! I always use my apron, except when I’m wearing old, black clothing. I usually go home for lunch, so I also put an apron on then. It only takes one little splash. Now if only it had sleeves.

  49. Veuve
    December 1, 2012 / 5:15 am

    I’ve got a very minimalistic-looking grey-striped linen number from the Japanese shop FogLinenWork. It’s very cool and I wear it not only for cooking but cleaning.

  50. Kate
    December 1, 2012 / 7:06 am

    I have so many vintage aprons, both full (I use those while canning) and half. We also have a couple butcher stripe ones from IKEA a couple years ago. I think aprons are truly a necessity if I don’t want to be covered in flour or some sort of sauce!

  51. textilogist
    December 1, 2012 / 8:23 am

    A similar trajectory for my appreciation of aprons – inspired largely by watching episodes of Masterchef (Aust) I started using aprons when I was cooking – now I use them whenever I am doing ‘house work’

  52. December 1, 2012 / 5:07 pm

    I’m pretty amused by apron nostalgia because when our mothers and grandmothers wore them it was purely to protect their dresses, of which they owned only 1 to 3 to their name as opposed to the bulging closets we have nowadays 🙂

  53. Marla
    December 1, 2012 / 11:23 am

    Some of those aprons are beautiful. It’s funny, most of my friends, including myself, don’t wear aprons anymore. I don’t know why.

  54. December 1, 2012 / 10:49 pm

    After seeing your choices, I will revisit the concept!

  55. December 1, 2012 / 10:49 pm

    After seeing your choices, I will revisit the concept!

  56. RoseAG
    December 1, 2012 / 4:39 pm

    Not an apron wearer. I change clothes right away when I get home.

    I do like to get fancy dishtowels for gifts.

  57. Lisa
    December 1, 2012 / 9:23 pm

    It seems the height of folly to risk ruining work clothes or even lounge around clothes by not protecting them in the kitchen. I love the basic Williams Sonoma kind–full coverage, lasts forever, pocket in the front. But I also found great ones at the local Smart and Final (restaurant supply store). They are less expensive and don’t have the WS tag on front so if you want to monogram it looks great. Don’t stay crisp as long—but once you have a big gravy stain on the front–it’s on to a new one!
    Also, I don’t buy kids’ size aprons–just loop the tie behind and up through the neck loop and down to tie in front–voila!–full coverage and they feel so grown up!

  58. December 2, 2012 / 8:03 pm

    I do wear an apron in the kitchen to wash up as I don’t have a dishwasher and I have a talent for splashing myself and covering myself in food stains while cooking. Mr V brought a great one back from a sailing trip on a tall ship with “Galley Slave” written on it!

  59. Anonymous
    December 2, 2012 / 10:50 pm

    I wear aprons when I cook and when I clean, no matter what I’m wearing underneath. An apron has a tremendous psychological effect. I feel like I’m “girding my loins” preparing to do battle and I can charge full bore into the task at hand. Without an apron I mince about, moving ginerly, worried about spills and splatters. No good.

    An apron can be charming, but it cannot be precious. That would defeat the purpose. I don’t sew, but I pick out fabric and an older woman I know who loves to sew runs up a few aprons to my specification in about an hour, charing only $6 a piece.

  60. monalisa
    December 3, 2012 / 4:21 am

    Back in the 50’s/60’s – my mother made the most beautiful aprons for gifts, friends, grab bags etc.
    They were more hostess fashion than utilitarian but everyone loved them.

    At the time I thought they were a little Donna Reed but now I wish I had one – mainly for the memories.

  61. coffeeaddict
    December 3, 2012 / 6:38 am

    a vibrant polka dot apron made out of a a high grade plastic coated cotton (similar to that of a rain coat not the cheap garden table cloth kind) complete with elbow length rubber gloves and some other super fun kitchen and home cleaning utensils 😀

  62. December 4, 2012 / 8:36 pm

    I must say I also do get tired of trying to wipe the oil and other splash stains off my best tee shirts. Actually I did a lot of thinking about aprons when I was researching the post I did this summer on house dresses (http://bit.ly/MRAo4g), kind of a one piece fashion that was never worn outside the house. My mother also sewed aprons for gifts, mostly at Christmas time. I’ll be getting the only one I salvaged out shortly in time for the Holidays. Thanks.

  63. December 5, 2012 / 1:29 am

    I love aprons but just have ones from cheap household goods shops hereabouts. My favourite has labels of Italian and southern French food items: tapenade, ratatouille, pesto, salsa di pomodoro etc. And big pockets. It cost $5. The ones that only come up to the waist are perfectly useless: one could repurpose them as adult bibs for particularly messy foods. I’d love an oilcloth one – will have to look for that.

    I think I’d find them annoying for cleaning, as for heavy cleaning I really change into old, stained garments I keep in a box for that purpose.

    And yes, black and other dark garments DO stain.

  64. Stacy
    December 4, 2012 / 7:45 pm

    Wow! So many people wear aprons! I thought I was the only one, a holdover from earlier years. I have two that I use. One a chef’s white from a restaurant store and another stripe from Ikea. I am always very careful though, not to sit down to dinner in an apron. I feel as if it is messy and disrespectful.

  65. December 20, 2012 / 12:55 am

    The concept is great but my kitchen tends to get warm so I just put on older clothes I don’t mind getting splattered.

    Isn’t Etzy great?

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