GROWING UP WITH APRONS
Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.
While growing up in the 1930s
and the 1940s it seemed that all the ladies of the household wore aprons.
This included my grandmothers, their sisters and daughter-in-laws. These
common household items were worn while cooking, to meet guests in and,
of course, to serve the main course on the tables. Most certainly, aprons
were worn to do house work.
Women wore this kind of protection in
the early 1700s, possibly earlier. The early ladies didn't have wash-n-wear
fabrics much like today. Everyone knows that extensive washing of dresses
wore them out rather quickly. Clothes in early days were washed in huge
tubs with the use of scrubbing boards. It was during the late 1930s
and beyond that the wring washers became trendy and the clothes were
hung out to dry. All clothing materials had to be ironed.
The purpose of wearing aprons was to protect
the dress beneath, thus saving on this important piece of dress-wear.
Aprons could be washed two or there times a week while the usual wearing
time for a dress was once a week.
Aprons were not only used in the household but were used by schoolteachers,
children, shopkeepers, and many times by secretaries. Men also wore
aprons such as the blacksmith and the shopkeepers. The performers in
the various shows wore an apron, it usually reaching the floor.
Decorating these outfits was seasonal
and other rationale. Ruffles were fastened to the shoulder straps, which
buttoned at the waist in the back. Decorations were fixed along the
Aprons were also employed for protection.
Some of today's vocations such as butchers, waiters and welders are
still part of our culture. Included in this repertoire are the blacksmith
and metal-smith. Fishermen in this day wore the handy garment to protect
their clothing from the fishy smell.
During the 1950s many folks in commercial
advertisements were suited with aprons.
Cleaning up the mess of gathering produce,
eggs, etc, and using the garment for a cleaning cloth was employed.
The apron was also used to handle hot food from the oven or off the
Color was definitely used as a distinguishable
item. Stonemasons wore white aprons. Barbers from Great Britain wore
checked aprons and were known in the community as checkered men. Blue
is the color selected by gardeners, spinners, weavers and garbage men.
Butlers were attired in green aprons while butchers wore blue stripes;
cobblers wore black. Servants and maids wore long white aprons with
the upper portion pinned to the dress. The latter now uses the half
Today's male uses simple aprons to barbeque, etc. A good number of modern
worker's aprons are of the canvas style. These worker's aprons are styled
with pockets for pens and pads.
Victorian times found the apron taking
on an aristocratic look with lace and embroidery. This was done not
for protection to their underclothing but as a mere distinction from
the servants and maids. Most women in this time made their own lace,
which led to a true expertise that was worn with satisfaction.
The 1920s, following WWI, found the women
moving outside the home for work or for social reasons.
The Great Depression of the 1930s created the lack of funds and materials,
which in turn, found the aprons used for scraps of clothing and food
sacks. Remember the old flour sack aprons? Soon after, the new choice
of design and materials led to aprons being made of calico. It was about
this time that sewing machines were being found in the home and the
apron took on a new look with a new symbolic pride.