As a maker of aprons, I am always intrigued by vintage and antique aprons, who wore them, did they serve a purpose or were they just decorative, so here’s a quick potted history of the lovely apron….
The English word “apron” originally came from “naperon,” the old French word for napkin or small tablecloth and men were the first wearers of aprons, as hygienic protective wear in the 12th century.
Coloured aprons tied at the waist appeared in the 14th century and in the 16th and 17th centuries, the colour of an apron began to denote the trade of the wearer – barbers wore a checked pattern; butchers and porters, green; and masons, white.
In the 18th century, the pinafore apron was “pinned” to clothing, hence the term “pinny”.
Moving through the 20th century, the early 1900’s, long aprons were the style to cover and protect clothing, becoming straight-line style in the 1920’s following fashion.
During the extravagant 1930’s, beautiful prints with bright sashes and crocheted aprons, make an appearance.
In the austere 1940’s, printed half-aprons tied around the waist, and aprons made of handkerchiefs, are popular as people make do and mend during the war.
Now, the apron, most common as a bib apron, is part of the uniform of several work categories, including waitresses, nurses, and domestic workers, and is also worn in many commercial establishments to protect workers clothes from damage as well as specialist aprons for blacksmiths or farriers.
The apron still retains its’ popularity as a protective, and decorative garment in the home.
Source: The Apron Goddess, Judy Vetrovec, for whom the history of aprons is as important as their beauty and practicality.