Field Grey Icons: A Brief History of the Apron

30.11.2018

The apron is a fundamental part of our business and we have created countless designs for various clients. They are a popular item in the uniform repertoire: not only are they a practical device, but they are also an excellent brand tool, creating brand synergy by bringing together a team of staff even if they are wearing their own clothes.

Apron Field Grey Uniform Design Hawksmoor
Field Grey for Hawksmoor London

The apron has an illustrious history and is one of the oldest items of clothing on record. It is a symbol of generosity, hospitality and warmth. It is synonymous with ceremonial robes, 1950s housewives, and countless professions. Here we chronicle a very brief history of the humble apron.

Origins

An apron is loosely defined as an article of clothing worn over the torso and/or legs for protection from spills. Any piece of cloth worn in front of the body tied around the reverse is classed as an apron. Ultimately a practical item, the apron has been used in this regard for centuries.

Old fashioned apron

The apron throughout history has been both a practical item and a symbol of status, power and ceremony. Like the former, the apron became a staple during the Middle Ages, not for chefs or cooks, but for blacksmiths and weapon makers. For the latter, we’ll look at lavish examples from the Minoan era right through to the 20th century.

Ancient Aprons

Long before it was adopted as a practical item, the apron was a ceremonial garment. Examples of ancient Gods and Goddesses wearing aprons can be found across the globe. The apron is seen as early as 1600 BCE; the Heraklion Archaeological Museum holds sculptures of Minoan snake goddesses wearing apron-like garments in their treasures.

Minoan Snake Goddesses Heraklion Museum

The apron has also been used as a symbol of status. The Freemasons use aprons as badges of fraternal distinction, from the plain white aprons of students to the grand, embroidered, lavish examples of the senior ranks. The story of the Masonic apron is a blog feature in itself.

The 1950s

The apron became synonymous with the housewife and home family values in the post-War period of the 1950s. As materials became readily available and housewives learned to make, aprons came in a variety of styles both professional and homemade. Patterns were produced so women could make their own. The pretty pinafore became as desirable as a Dior coat. They were marketed not only to women but men and children too; as the ultimate symbol of family life. A family who wore aprons together stayed together:

The 1960s

Changing times in the Swinging Sixties and campaigns for gender equality meant that symbols of home life and oppressed housewives fell out of favour. Aprons became synonymous with grandmothers and old-fashioned way of life. They remained a staple in professional industries, of course, but they were a solely practical item without decoration or flair. Technological developments meant that aprons were no longer only made from fabric materials.

The 1970s and 1980s

The 1970s and 1980s saw the apron continue to be associated with home goodness. The 1980s saw the rise of the PVC coated apron. Companies revelled in enlarging their beautiful branding onto these large format garments, such as these classic examples from the era:

On the Catwalks Today

The rise of home cooking, baking, and making means that the apron one again a popular homeware item. It is also a style icon, and the apron, in its various guises, regularly serves as an inspiration to the world’s best fashion designers. From Marni to McQueen, the apron has featured in many collections, albeit in very stylised forms.

The Readywear Apron Collection

Field Grey presents various apron options as part of Readywear, a capsule collection of 36 key uniform items. Our aprons come in half and full lengths; in materials such as cotton, poly-cotton and rubber; and in a variety of colours. The different designs can be customised with different fastenings and hardware and a company or venue’s logo and branding can be embroidered onto the garments.

To discuss how Readywear can be tailor-made for your business, email us!