Sunday, May 8, 2011

Are You Ready for an Apron Revival?

There's no doubt that aprons have fallen out of favor in the past 30 or 40 years.

We tend to associate aprons with the quintessential 1950's housewife. The women's lib movement of the '60s and '70s brought an apron revolt. Women threw down their aprons, as if these protective garments were, in fact, a symbol of oppression.

But, women who weren't at the forefront of the women's lib movement weren't wearing aprons anymore either. I don't recall my mom ever wearing an apron and she started out her marriage as a traditional housewife.  Aprons had become old fashioned and out of style, regardless of a woman's political leanings.

However, aprons have had a bit of a renaissance in the past few years. There are websites and Etsy stores dedicated to aprons. People are making gorgeous aprons. Some are so pretty that it'd be a shame to get them dirty! And, really, that's what an apron is for. It's supposed to get dirty. It protects your clothes from dish water, grease splatters, flour, potting soil and any number of other household things.

I've been wearing an apron more and more lately. You see, whenever I do dishes, I always end up with a wet spot on the front of my shirt. No matter how hard I try to be neat, it still happens. If I need to pick up a child from school, go to the post office or whatever, I have to change my shirt. But, when I wear my apron, I don't. It's pretty simple. And practical.  It saves time, effort and laundry. You can't go wrong with that.

When I think about it, it really makes no sense that the apron, of all things, was what the women's movement left in the dust. Maybe aprons became a frumpy symbol of women's work. Or maybe they were a symbol of drudgery. As if getting rid of the apron would make the work women did while wearing aprons go away. It didn't. We still have to clean toilets, cook dinner and do the dishes, regardless of whether or not we are housewives or work outside the home. The only difference is our lives seem to be in fast-forward mode as we are pulled in more directions than previous generations. Doesn't an apron make more sense now than ever?

Image from Vintage Catnip Free Clip Art
Maybe our great grandmothers were on to something. There was no way in heck these practical ladies were going to have to change their dress every time they cooked dinner or washed dishes. They needed to be able to take that apron off and still be neat and clean. They had less clothing than we do and had to wash that clothing by hand. You can bet they were wearing an apron!

What about you? Are you an apron wearer? Do you have to change your shirt before heading out in the evening? Would an apron solve that problem? Do you care?


  1. Makes so much sense, Barb. And if they have pockets, they can be even more useful.

    Actually I had resigned them to the category of crocheted dollies, crocheted hot pads and cloth handkerchiefs!

    I agree! Time for a comeback of the aprons! Guys can have their aprons and chef hats.


  2. I feel practically naked if I don't wear an apron when I cook or wash up. I am quite messy and it's much easier to wash a dirty apron than to wash several changes of clothes. I have a couple of flowery vintage ones on the pegs, but generally use dh's old ones from work.

  3. My mother always wore aprons when we were kids and cooking and so did we kids. I loved my aprons, and I felt special wearing one. I made my kids wear aprons when they were we lasses helping me in the kitchen. I don't tend to wear an apron because modern apron don't move with me, they are stiff and not comfortable to be in. I do love half aprons and have been thinking about making some. I mention this because my mom was big into Women's Lib. We girls were always told we could do anything, and that in this world we would have to work 2x as hard as any man for 1/2 the achievement. She never saw aprons as oppressive, just a way to keep our clothes cleaner so she didn't have to do as much laundry.

  4. Carol - Definitely time to bring back the apron! And, I've read that handkerchiefs are making a comeback, too. I'm not sure I'm ready for that, though.

    Attila - The vintage aprons are so pretty, but not very practical.

    Tree - Your mom sounds like a smart woman!

    Thanks for the comments!