Vintage Style Aprons

Retro Staff Comments
Dr. Price's Cream Baking Powder Ad 1930s

This 1930s ad shows a homemaker’s dress-covering apron.

Once a necessity for any homemaker, the vintage apron has become a fashion statement. In the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, aprons were commonplace. In fact, many women owned both “working” and “presenting” aprons. The working apron was worn during the actual cooking process, while a nicer, clean apron was worn while serving dinner. These pretty aprons were truly cherished and were not usually worn while toiling in the kitchen.

A little history…

Victorian styled aprons were commonly long enough to cover a woman’s dress and were often pinned into place. Fancy aprons of these days would feature lace and embroidery. In the 1920s half aprons became popular, and they were still designed with beautiful fabrics and accents.

During WWII rations meant homemakers had to make do with hand-made aprons of limited fabric choices. Flour sacks became common, as did the conversion of old dresses and blouses. After the war, however, new fabrics emerged, including polyester and rayon, which required little ironing. Many new colors and designs were introduced as well, and aprons became popular gift items. Many travelers would purchase aprons as souvenirs.

Scallop Hem Toile Oilcloth Kitchen Apron

This scallop hem oilcloth apron is akin to what a homemaker would wear while serving dinner.

Post-war aprons were plentiful. Pre-printed patterns meant women could easily make several styles, so it wasn’t surprising to find a drawer full of themed aprons – ones dedicated for holidays, different seasons, barbecues and more.

Today, vintage aprons from the ’20s to the ’50s can be highly collectible, some fetching even a few hundred dollars. Most, however, are valued much less, especially if heavily worn. The scarcity of these old aprons is due to two common issues: 1) many earlier fabrics deteriorated over time; and 2) during the “waste not” years, many aprons were eventually turned into dust rags and such.

Newly made retro-style aprons are also popular, featuring similar fits and designs from the ’30s to the ’60s. For those wanting the retro look and feel these replicas are a great choice. Whether hung on a hook, used as kitchen decor, or worn while serving Sunday dinner, a retro apron makes for great fashion and unique gift-giving. Popular fabrics include cotton (easy to wash) and oilcloth (more expensive but wipes clean).

Do you remember Mom or Grandma always wearing an apron while cooking or baking?



Last updated: Dec 15, 2012
Filed under: Retro Fashion, Retro Food and Recipes, Retro Memories Tagged with: kitchen decor, retro fashion