Aprons shouldn’t be a big deal. They’re fundamentally a piece of cloth one drapes over one’s clothing to prevent ruin from coming to said clothing.
They make a ton of practical sense, especially if you don’t happen to have an unlimited reservoir of cash to purchase new clothes. An apron in the kitchen, for example, makes it possible for me to both experiment with making my own poutine and continue to have at least one pair of pants without an oil stain on them.
Much like other things, however, aprons have taken on a much larger, charged significance than just “savvy cook’s no-duh utility gear.” The cult of domesticity tried to co-opt the apron into some signifier of female subservience. For a time, it worked. Ads depicted happy, thin, beautiful women tidying up the home of their dreams. To some, there was no woman more desirable than one in an apron and heels and not much else.
See, the patriarchy thrives on making people feel like we all have a prescribed role in life, generally tied to gender. Women do X. Men do Y. Y is more important / respectable / difficult than X. You know the score: The “traditional” women’s roles – those related to keeping the home running and the children alive – are a given while the “traditional” men’s roles – earning money to provide for the home and children being kept alive – are laudable and respectable. It’s all bullshit and the sooner everyone calls out that we all do important labor to keep our worlds together, the better off we’ll all be.
So to those who see the apron for the essential garb guard that it is, we salute you. If you are wearing an apron while carrying out an activity that brings you happiness or satisfaction in some way, we’re with you.
Best Multi-Use Apron: Under NY Sky
A small-ish outfit based in Brooklyn, I was first turned on to their wares by a pal who works at a bike shop. She had trouble not ruining every item of clothing she wore but couldn’t find an apron to fit her petite frame. Enter Under NY Sky’s utilitarian everything-is-adjustable aprons. With options at varying price points designed for everything from food service to barbering and heavy machine work, there’s a lot to love with Under NY Sky.
Best For The Artistically Oriented: Japanese-Style Aprons
I admit, this isn’t so much of a specific thing you can buy (though those the cute linen ones above are available on Etsy and Shop Fog Linen), so much as it is about the pinafore style. There are a metric fuckton of free pinafore / Japanese-style apron / “Maria apron” patterns online, so this is both a chance to craft AND stay clean while crafting in the future. Sculptors (and other fine arts folks) have been into this style forever, as the lack of a neck strap is often more comfortable when working on a wheel. Culinaristas should also take note: Chef and Forever Queen of the Bae Gabrielle Hamilton has been known to rock this style in her own kitchen:
Best Novelty Apron: Scenic Cuisine Apron by ModCloth
If you’re going the “throwback” route, go all in. This charming apron gets one demerit for lacking front pockets but more than makes up for it in nearly unbearable cuteness.
Got an apron go-to? Let me know!