Interesting Things You Might Not Know About Aprons

Those of us old enough to remember TV shows like ‘Leave It to Beaver’ and the ‘Andy Griffith Show’ remember scenes depicting Mrs. Cleaver and Aunt Bea wearing aprons while working in the kitchen. Those days are long gone. For the most part, so are aprons – at least in a residential setting. Yet aprons have a long and storied history that goes back centuries.

According to Alsco, a leading supplier of restaurant uniforms, the apron has been used in a variety of environments ranging from the kitchen to the surgical suite. In some cultures, aprons are nothing more than plain pieces of fabric with the sole purpose of protecting clothing against soiling. In other cultures, aprons are both status symbols and coveted works of art.

Below are some interesting things you might not know about aprons, compliments of the website. Needless to say, there is a lot more to the tried-and-true apron than meets the eye.

Aprons and Religious Practice

Ancient cultures utilized aprons during religious practices. Cretan priestesses, Assyrian priests, and religious practitioners from Egypt to Israel donned aprons to protect themselves against the messiness of making sacrifices. Some of their aprons were adorned with intricate decorations that added to the ceremonial pomp.

Even as the practice of ritual sacrifices began to fade, some religions continued holding on to aprons as decorative elements. Even today, aprons are still used as part of the official uniform in some religious practices.

Tradesmen Known by Their Aprons

Did you know that European tradesmen were at one time known as ‘apron men’? They earned the moniker by virtue of the fact that different trades were identified by different kinds of aprons. According to, gardeners, spinners, and weavers routinely wore blue aprons. Green was a popular color for butlers.

More often than not, apron colors and designs among tradesmen were directly linked to the work they did. Take cobblers, for example. Their black aprons protected their clothing from black wax while also hiding wax stains at the same time.

Aprons and Women’s Fashion

By the time the 16th century rolled around, aprons had become fashion statements for European women. They eventually became a normal part of everyday fashion to the extent that a woman’s choice of apron was as important as her choice of dress.

Aprons made their way to the U.S. during the colonial period. Fast-forward to the post-war 1950s, when more women began working outside the home, and apron use began falling off. Not only were they no longer a normal part of women’s fashion, but they gradually faded away as a normal part of residential housekeeping as well.

Functional and Protective

From the religious practices of ancient Assyria to the field doctors who donned medical aprons during the Civil War, aprons have long been regarded as protective garb. Protection is still the main function of the modern apron. However, as Alsco points out, the aprons worn by modern professionals are also functional.

Have you ever noticed the waist aprons worn by restaurant servers and bartenders? They offer numerous pockets for things like order pads and pens. Servers and bartenders need a lot of pockets because they carry a lot of things.

The tried-and-true apron has not changed a whole lot over the centuries. That is no bad thing. Indeed, it is awfully hard to improve on a piece of clothing that seems perfectly suited for its primary task. Aprons have endured the test of time because they do what they are designed to do. There aren’t many other objects with the same longevity.