Aprons - a little history

Posted by juliabennet on January 25th, 2013

The apron came like a practical solution because centuries ago people did not afford the luxury of having a large wardrobe. They were not washing and drying their clothes very frequently, so aprons served to cover up the clothes underneath and protected them from getting dirty. Washing was this way much easier. While the apron could be washed every few days, the clothing underneath could be washed once a week. Later, aprons began serving as decorating articles. Housewives, but also children, teachers, secretaries and shop-keepers wore different styles of this piece of clothing every day.

The years 1920’s and 1930’s came with aprons following closely the silhouette of the dress, which means long and without any waist line. The 1940’s brought a cinched waist line, buttons, and pockets of materials in contrasting colors. Aprons were generally made from heavier fabric called feed cloth. At that time there was no wasting back. The feed sack fabric was the material for aprons and quilts. The best parts were used for quilts and what remained was used to make aprons.

Apron-adorned women appeared in most advertisements related to cooking or housework of the magazines of the years 1940’s and 1950’s. They were like wearing a sort of uniform. Aprons were then a selling feature for articles like irons, kitchen appliances or food products.

The 1950’s came with the half-aprons made of materials like feed sack, highly starched cotton or sheer fabric. They were trimmed with lace when dedicated to special occasions. Aprons were then a serious element of fashion and not only a cover-up. Modern aprons can be found in printed designs as well as hand stitched ones and in various colors.

The late 1960’s brought the message aprons, with popular messages embossed on the full-length aprons, popular again. Those messages were an influence of the feminist movement that was just beginning. The decorated kitchen apron, once popular and then forgotten, is revived again.

Kitchen aprons were used for various tasks, while television shows were presenting women who were wearing aprons in almost any episode of favourite family shows. Many shows were re-runs that allowed later generations to know the style of life in the 1950’s. Those shows, although presenting the idyllic version of the 50’s, succeeded to create a stereotype of that period of time and kitchen aprons particularly.

The kitchen apron kept being a habit in homes for far more than a hundred years, until the 70’s and the early 80’s. Younger generations are emulating what their grandmothers had, in a quite new way. Vintage aprons are selling in antique stores or flea markets. The Internet is abounding in patterns for the reproduction of classic models. Fans of such collections can look there for sources of inspiration and style.

Aprons in many forms and colors are available for women, men and kids. Everyone can have the desired style of apron as designers are very creative and produce new models to please their clients.

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