This article is about the garment. For other uses, see Apron (disambiguation).
An apron is an outer protective garment that covers primarily the front of the body. It may be worn for hygienic reasons as well as in order to protect clothes from wear and tear. The apron is commonly part of the uniform of several work categories, including waitresses, nurses, and domestic workers. Many homemakers also wear them. It is also worn as a decorative garment by women. Aprons are also worn in many commercial establishments to protect workers clothes from damage, mainly bib aprons, but also others such as blacksmith or farrier aprons.
In addition to cloth, aprons can be made from a variety of materials. Rubber aprons are commonly used by persons working with dangerous chemicals, and lead aprons are commonly worn by persons such as X-ray technicians who work near radiation. Aprons, such as those used by carpenters, may have many pockets to hold tools. Waterproof household aprons, made of oilcloth or PVC are suitable for cooking and washing dishes.
The word apron is from the metanalysis of the term "a napron" to "an apron". The original spelling of napron has been lost (from the Old French naperon; Modern French napperon).
There are many different apron forms depending on the purpose of the apron. A basic distinction is between waist aprons which cover the body from the waist down and a bib apron which also covers the upper part of the body.
An apron is usually held in place by two ribbon-like strips of cloth that are tied in the back. A bib apron may either have a strap in around the neck (perhaps the most widespread use today), or shoulder straps that criss-cross in the back and attach to the waistband. The advantage of the former design is that it makes it especially simple to put on the bib apron. The advantage of the shoulder strap design is that it makes the apron more comfortable to wear; a neck strap can slightly impair ease of movement.
Other types of aprons include the pinafore and the cobbler apron. There are also aprons that will cover the sleeves.
Some modern day aprons will have humorous expressions, designs or corporate logos.
Aprons in the home
The apron was traditionally viewed as an essential garment for anyone doing housework. Cheaper clothes and washing machines made aprons less common beginning in the mid 1960s in some countries such as the United States. However, the practice of wearing aprons remains strong in many places.
Today, the apron has enjoyed a minor renaissance in terms of both women and men now wearing them when performing household chores. For instance, an article in the Wall Street Journal claimed in 2005 that the apron is "enjoying a renaissance as a retro-chic fashion accessory" in the United States. However, it still is not as prevalent as it was prior to the 1960s.
Aprons are nowadays considered equally appropriate for both women and men by most people. However, prevailing social norms ensure that women frequently wear more delicate clothing, and may therefore be more likely to want the protection an apron offers. This can also be because the apron is the traditional clothing for cooking and washing dishes, usually done by women.
When domestic workers are supplied a uniform by their employers, an apron is often included. The aprons are worn for hygienic as well as for identification purposes.
The term "apron" also refers to an item of clerical clothing, now largely obsolete, worn by Anglican bishops and archdeacons. The clerical apron resembles a short cassock reaching just above the knee, and is coloured black for archdeacons and purple for bishops. The apron is worn with black gaiters, reaching to just below the knee, and knee-length black breeches worn with gaiters. The history behind the vesture is that it symbolically represents the mobility of bishops and archdeacons, who at one time would ride horses to visit various parts of a diocese or archdeaconry. In this sense, the apparel was much more practical than a clerical cassock would be. In latter years, this vesture was more symbolic than practical, and since the mid-twentieth century it has fallen out of favour.
- Apron dress
- Bib (clothing)
- ^ apron, n. Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition 1989.
- ^ The apron ascends to costly kitchen couture, Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2005
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