Ask the Washington Post’s Becky Krystal about the apron she has owned for the last 15 years and she’s likely to tell you a lot of wonderful stories. She is also likely to tell you that her apron is cheap and comfortable. She loves that apron so much that she wears it every time she cooks.
Why open a post talking about Krystal and her beloved apron? To introduce the fact that aprons don’t have to be fancy. They can be, but there is nothing inherently better about a fancy apron in terms of its intended purpose. Aprons are not supposed to be fashion statements. They are utilitarian articles of clothing to be used in certain environments.
A Centuries-Old Garment
History does not record the origin of the apron. We do know that aprons have been in widespread use in this country from the earliest days of the Pilgrims landing on the East Coast. It is safe to say that the apron is a centuries-old garment, and possibly a garment with several millennia of history behind it.
The primary purpose of the apron is to protect the clothing underneath. Cooks wear aprons to protect their shirts and pants from heat, flame, liquids, grease spatters, etc. Dishwashers don aprons that cover them from chest to ankles, protecting their clothing from all of the mess that comes with their jobs.
Welders wear aprons to protect them from open flame and hot metal. Machinists wear aprons to keep tiny shards of metal from embedding themselves in their clothing. The list goes on and on. The two most important factors for any apron are protection and utility. Address those two things and you are good to go.
Aprons as Protection
The protective aspects of the apron are self-evident. However, you might not know that there are different kinds of aprons that offer varying levels of protection. We will use restaurant aprons as an example. According to Salt Lake City-based Alsco, there are different types of restaurant workwear for different workers.
Servers and bartenders are known to wear quarter aprons around the waist. These are the smallest of all restaurant aprons designed to cover from the waist to just above the knees. They protect a server’s pants when leaning over dirty tables or grabbing orders from the counter.
Bussers are more likely to wear knee-length bib aprons that protect their torsos and the area from the waist down to the knees. Given that they deal with plenty of dirty dishes and equally dirty tables, they need the added protection. As for the previously mentioned dishwashers, full length bib aprons offer protection from head to toe.
Aprons for Utility
Sticking with the restaurant example, consider server aprons once again. Perhaps you’ve noticed that they tend to have multiple pockets. There is generally one large, main pocket complemented by several smaller pockets. The pockets are there for a reason: servers have a lot of things to carry. From straws to order pads and pens, servers need the utility multiple pockets offer.
Bib aprons for cooks are generally designed with longer ties. This is so they can wrap the ties once around the waist and finish off with a knot in the front. Believe it or not, there is utility here. Wrapping the ties around the waist provides a built-in belt, if you will, capable of holding kitchen towels and potholders.
Fancy aprons absolutely have their place. However, an apron does not have to be fancy to fulfill its intended purpose. Rather, it just has to be protective and functional.