Vintage & Fashion news, pretty vintage items and of course wee bit personal life style ramblings of an eleven year on line vintage clothing seller, avid fashion, antique and vintage lover

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tie Nostalgia On - The History of Aprons

Does an apron inspire childhood memories for you? Grandma with her full aprons with ruffles that tied around her neck. Mom with her pretty half aprons, and for special occasions sheer chiffon or organdy short ruffly cocktail aprons to keep her good dress clean.

I remember wearing dresses with chiffon pinafores over them as a child, which are a form of apron. In Kindergarten, we wore plastic aprons for art classes to protect our clothing from messy finger-painting.

Aprons are everywhere ~ X-ray technicians wear lead aprons for protection, carpenters wear them to protect their clothing as well as hold their tools, who created the first aprons?

Adam & Eve wore something similar to today's aprons when they wore fig leaves. Aprons date back to the 10th century according to the Butcher's Guild. Blacksmiths wore them by the 13th century.

By the 17th century, housemaids who typically only owned one dress, found them necessary to keep that dress clean. They were easier to make than an entire dress, and simpler to wash, as well as serving as pot holders for not only holding a pan but also for handling hot fire tools. In the 18th century the Freemasons adopted the apron as it represented the clothing of the stone masons.

Pioneers used aprons as a "tool" of sorts, as we saw Caroline on "Little House on the Prairie" always wearing an apron and used it to carry things in, as well as all the Ingalls girls in either aprons or pinafores. The blacksmith of course wore one too. They weren't just for women.

Aprons were made from fabric scraps and were basically still utilitarian.

40's Remnant Apron @the Vintage Merchant

By the 50s and 60s, aprons became part of daily dress for TV moms. From Lucy to Donna Reed, Mary Tyler Moore in her Chiffon Cocktail Aprons and June Cleaver in her apron and pearls, the TV moms made them popular and fashionable for all homemakers.

They were created of anything from calico to chiffon, ruffles or simple, and even elegant! Frilly little sheer organdy cocktail aprons to wear over your best dress, or remnants of old left over fabric to create an every day apron to protect your dress while cooking. The variety of style, design and fabrics were endless.

1950s Organdy Apron @Born Too Late

Sadly, by the 20th century, aprons were associated with "working class" and completely lost their appeal.

Today, aprons again are trendy! Designers like Betsey Johnson, Laura Ashley and even Pierre Cardin have sewing patterns for aprons. They have a retro appeal, great hostess gift, gift for the chef in your life, darling to hang or frame in your vintage kitchen, or just keep it for yourself for nostalgia.

There also is an apron museum, dedicated to just Aprons and their history. The only
Apron Museum
in the world is in Iuka, Tishomingo County, Mississippi.
If you are traveling this summer, what a fun place to stop. In the meantime, grab a pretty apron and tie it on!



  1. Thank you so much Marcy, how sweet of you!! von xo