Apron Dress

July already! What happened to the first half of the year? To celebrate the fact that we are half way through 2014 and that it is summer (at least where I live) July posts are going to be about one of my favourite pieces of clothing – the dress.


p.s. I have had a play with the layout of my posts – let me know if you like it better…


AKA: pinafore, pinny (UK), jumper dress (USA) Alice in Wonderland dress

How to say it:  eypruh n  dress

Traditional Features: 

Apron Dress


  • bib-front top similar to that of an apron or overalls
  • straps that go over the shoulders to the mid/lower back
  • open back
  • skirt attached to the bib-front top, usually short
  • often intended to be worn with a top underneath

21st Century Apron Dresses

The apron dress is not a hard hitter on the fashion landscape at the moment, but it is definitely out there and there are more than a couple to choose from.

Alexander Wang ASOS

Alexander Wang, ASOS

Madewell Free People

Madewell, Free People


…of the style: The humble apron has been worn in various forms as a means of protecting one’s clothing since the Middle Ages, with men and women donning the garment whilst they carried out their everyday tasks and chores.

Aprons first became a fashion piece in the 16th century, when women wore embroidered aprons made from luxury fabrics as a symbol of wealth and status. At this time aprons only covered the lower half of the body; it wasn’t until the American Colonial period that the full apron (with a bib-front) or pinafore began to gain popularity.

And it is from these full aprons that the apron dress evolved, but not just yet. The apron as a protective garment remained popular throughout the 20th century, changing shape and style with the trends just like any other piece of clothing. The Hoover Apron was introduced in the 1910s and was a wraparound garment that almost looked like a dress and fully covered the clothing underneath.

This style remained popular into the 1920s until the half apron became popular once more. Aprons became plain and utilitarian during the Great Depression, were adorned and decorated in the 1930s and 40s and really hit their stride in the 1950s – the era of the domestic goddess. During this time the image of a woman in her pretty apron in her a cozy kitchen, surrounded by food and family became the ideal, and women strove to portray this picture of the perfect home. Aprons during this time were very decorative and were worn as much as a status symbol as a means to protect the clothing underneath.

In the 1960s the domestic apron became ‘old fashioned’ as women fought the image of the housewife. Aprons were still used by professionals in the workplace, but they no longer had a guaranteed place in the home.

Towards the end of the 20th century a return to retro clothing and sensibilities, as well as the upswell in popularity of DIY projects and cooking shows brought the apron back to the domestic setting. While it is not the fashion garment that it once was, aprons are slowly finding their way back into modern kitchens.

As for the apron dress, there is some evidence they were worn by Viking women back in the day, however these were very different to the apron dresses of today. The modern apron dress gained popularity in the early 21st century – fashion turned retro and the rising popularity in aprons apparently led designers to create dresses based on these kitchen classics.

The dress today most closely resembles the pinafore and full aprons of the 1930s and 40s (think Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz), but while a traditional apron is usually open at the back, the apron dress fully encloses the lower body in a variety of skirt shapes. The top half of an apron dress is a bib-front style (like you would see in overalls), with straps over the shoulders finishing at the lower back or waist. As the top half of the apron dress is often quite open, they are sometimes worn with another top underneath (although given 21st century attitudes towards showing skin, not always!).

The apron dress went through a period of relative popularity in the early 21st century and has remained in the fashion marketplace since then, although with the same presence as it originally had.

…of the name: The word apron comes from the French word naperon meaning tablecloth. The dress mimics the style of an apron, hence the name.

The word pinafore comes from the fact that originally the bib front was pinned (pin) to the front (afore) of the wearers clothing.

Random Facts

  • at the height of the apron’s popularity in the 1950s, women often had sheer, highly decorative aprons that were kept for formal or special occasions as well as their everyday styles, and passed these ‘good’ aprons on to family members.


For more info on Aprons, Pinafores and Apron dresses try WiseGeek, eBay, Aprons.com or check out the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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