The Thanksgiving meal is tradition-bound, featuring rich fare served only at the Thanksgiving table. With turkey, gravy, cranberries, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, the typical Thanksgiving meal requires hours of preparation. Though your meal might include different dishes, you'll probably spend at least an hour or two in the kitchen preparing for this week's Thanksgiving celebration. In honor of all that roasting, baking and stirring, today's post reflects on the ultimate domestic fashion accessory, the apron. First published in 2009, this post describes how and why the division between plain and fancy aprons arose in the late 19th century.
In practical terms, aprons are merely protective overgarments, worn to prevent food or dirt from staining clothing. Despite these functional origins, aprons have taken on the much larger job of signifying feminine domesticity. This is particularly true of aprons featuring brightly patterned fabric or decorative embellishments. In the late 19th and through the mid 20th century, plain, utilitarian aprons were worn while doing work (cleaning, cooking) in the kitchen or home, and colorful aprons were worn when receiving guests or serving food. Thus, decorative aprons became a public display of a competent and dedicated homemaker. Even today, an image of a woman or man wearing an apron is intended to convey domestic prowess.