It’s after dinner: leftovers are being compiled into containers, counters wiped down, and dishes rinsed and put in the dishwasher. You look down, and there’s a giant stain and a big blob of dish soap on your favorite top. You run past your family, grab a new shirt, and head to the laundry room to start pre-treating the disaster on your beloved blouse. Or, if you really love it and the blinds are closed, maybe you just make a mad, semi-topless dash straight to the laundry room.
Is it just me, or do our clothes really take a beating these days? From food stains and cleaning products to tiny, dirty hands and dripping noses, sometimes my clothing feels more like a person-shaped hanky than a fashion choice. Sticky fingers and messy faces always find their way to my favorite clothes, leading to annoying stains.
In an effort to save my clothes (and my money and sanity!), I’ve picked up my grandmother’s habit: I’ve started wearing aprons around the house. Think about it: aprons are made to protect clothing. That’s their job. And they look adorable doing it! I’ve started breaking out my aprons beyond Christmas cookie prep and extending their role to year round. Cleaning? Slap on an apron. Cooking? Tie those apron strings, mama. Sitting on the couch with a teething, drooling baby? Apron up! From half-sized ones that tie at the waist to classic full coverage that go from bosom to knee, aprons have you covered.
Aprons have been around since the 18th century, from serving as a fashion choice (think of Alice’s pinafore in Alice in Wonderland) to a housework necessity. Lack of cloth during both world wars caused the initial switch from fashion choice to clothing protector. Aprons were made from sewing scraps, thus the decorative buttons, hodgepodge style, and colorful designs. In the 1950s, even men began utilizing aprons with the popularity burst of the outdoor barbecue. That trend continues today, with most men’s aprons touting ‘King of the Grill,’ ‘Kiss the Cook,’ and other funny sayings. Their endurance speaks to their capabilities — they really do get the job done!
Since clothing is less scarce these days, and washing clothing is much simpler, aprons have fallen out of style. But if, like me, you’d like to decrease that never-ending pile of laundry, maybe aprons are the answer to our heavenward pleas. I don’t like changing clothes every time what I’m wearing gets messy, but I also don’t always want to look like a hot mess (I am often a hot mess!). But I look like it less now that I’ve taken to wearing aprons.
I love retro styles, and vintage aprons have the double duty of being adorably fun, and since you’re buying used, they also lessens your carbon footprint. Bonus points for being environmentally conscientious! Pinterest has tons of fun ideas for homemade aprons. During the depression, women re-purposed everything they could to save and scrimp. This led to flour sacks being turned into aprons, and now that burlap is back you can be historically accurate, fashionably on trend, and keep your clothes safer, too. My favorites have pockets, because pockets are essential and I always struggle to find fun and functional clothing and accessories.
Bib aprons are popular because they cover you chest to knee. Half-aprons tie at the waist and primarily protect your bottom half. Pinafores provide more all-around coverage, but are less popular on adults; they’re primarily found on children. Fashion-wise, anything is possible. Layers, ruffles, mixing patterns, buttons, pockets, ties, decorative bows — the options are endless. You can make your own, buy one locally or online, or dig out one you’ve inherited.