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The Softer Side

Nancy Willett [ January 2004 ]

The picture in my mind that speaks volumes of home is my mother working in the kitchen. Her attire consisted of a simple dress, low shoes and of course an apron. When thinking of fashion one does not think of a simple item such as an apron as fashionable or even an accessory.

The word “apron” comes from an old French word “napperon” meaning cloth. Appearing in the Middle Ages as a piece of cloth that was tied around the ladies skirt to protect the clothing while eating. Later servants started using the “nappe” with a small bib top to protect their clothing while working, which was simply pinned to the dress. From that time forward it evolved to what is consided an artform and very collectable today.

This simple garment started out as an example in proficiency of needlework with no consideration of being an art form, and is considered extraordinary art by extraordinary women today. Adding grace, warmth and beauty to our lives, most of these women completed their work while wearing a variety of aprons.

Aprons seem to carry a host of nostalgic memories of a simpler time. Mom seemed to have the perfect apron for every situation. There were aprons for cleaning, baking, wash day, and when company came to call.

I especially liked the one for washday as it meant going outside and running through the lines of clean smelling clothes and sheets. That apron was made of white linen with a wide band of red rick-rack, and a uniquely large pocket that held the clothes pins.

The 1947 Ward’s catalog shows a variety of aprons priced from 59 cents to $2.98. and an 1872 Bazaar magazine shows a diagram of an apron pattern for 25 cents. Aprons come in many styles, materials and variety of handy work. To the avid collector, prices can range from a few dollars to as much as $75.00 depending on the condition and age.

So, when you are completing that perfect vintage outfit don’t rule out the vintage accessories of an apron.

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