1. Why You Should Own A Good Apron
In theory, aprons serve one very important purpose: to protect the cook (and his clothing) from splatters, heat, or sparks. But if we just looked at aprons that way, we would be perfectly fine with putting any piece of fabric between us and our cooking area, with no regard to style or any other functionality.
The truth is, we want aprons to do more than that. We want them to be our culinary armor, aiding us in our tasks and generally making things easier for us. Not only that, but we want our aprons to look good. When we’re in the kitchen (or out in front of the grill), we want to feel like we’re in charge. And the best way to feel the part is to look the part.
If you’re a home cook, buying a good apron may feel like a completely unnecessary thing. But the moment you put one on, it’s remarkable how a switch turns inside our heads that make us feel like we are truly masters of the culinary arts, and the kitchen is our domain.
Working in the kitchen should be easy as well as pleasurable, so we recommend getting a good apron to get the most out of the experience. Not only do you need it for protection (like an oven mitt) but you also want to look the part while you work. Whether you’re a home cook or a professional chef, stepping into the uniform helps put you in a certain mindset, and it helps communicate your role to the people around you.
See FAQ'S below for the definition of apron.
2. The History Of Aprons
Believe it or not, the history of aprons stretches back further than you might think. In fact, over the centuries, aprons have been used for all kinds of things, not just cooking; blacksmiths, butchers, medical staff, and scientists have all worn a type of apron over the years, long before chef aprons became a cultural icon in the 20th century.
Looking back at the very earliest traceable examples of aprons, they seem to have originated as an offshoot of the loincloth, and were used for decorative, practical, and ritualistic purposes. In ancient Crete, for example, the fertility goddess was depicted as wearing an apron. Sacred aprons were also worn by Assyrian priests. In ancient Egypt, Pharaohs would wear jewel-encrusted aprons.
Aprons started to appear in domestic and labor settings during the Middle Ages in Europe, where they’d be worn by homemakers, artisans and tradesmen. It was common to be able to tell a person’s trade by the specific apron they wore. Stonemasons, for instance, wore white aprons to protect their clothing from the white dust from their work on stones, while cobblers wore black aprons to protect from black wax.
In the 1940s, aprons started becoming synonymous with domestic life, a symbol of the quintessential American homemaker. Pop culture and mass media depictions of suburban family life would feature the apron as the uniform for the American housewife, as well as for the man of the house during family cookouts.
The popularity of aprons has changed considerably over the years; the late 20th century saw a brief dip in their popularity, but the rise of foodie culture and craft goods has brought the apron back into style. Thankfully the "apron for women only" stereotype is well and truly dead and these days you can find an apron for men women, children and even animals. These days, wearing a good-looking apron serves as a statement that yes, you’re in charge of the food, and yes, you know what you’re doing.
3. What To Look For In An Apron
Aprons are meant to protect your clothes from food stains. That is their primary purpose. But utility shouldn’t be the one and only factor you consider when picking a kitchen apron. You’ll likely be wearing them as you have guests over and work in the kitchen for several hours, so style and comfort are also extremely important.
When it comes to both comfort and durability, the fabrics that make up your apron are definitely at the very top of the list of factors you should consider. The most common (and most classic) apron material is cotton, but if you find yourself grilling more often than you do cooking, it’s a good idea to look into other materials.
Leather does a fantastic job at keeping your clothes protected from any food stains, as well as shielding you from any heat and sparks. Waxed cotton is also a good choice for this, as well as denim.
Whichever fabric you end up going with, it’s always good to double-check the quality of the materials in order to ensure the durability of your apron, which should be with you for a long time.
Of course, you don’t want your apron to be merely functional. If you have people over, you want to make sure you look good as you keep yourself protected. Style is another factor to consider. A lot of this is going to come down to personal taste, but there are some differences in the construction and functionality of some chef aprons which we’ll outline below.
4. Different Types Of Aprons
There are several styles you can pick from depending on what you’re using your apron for as well as your own personal comfort. Below is a description of some of the basic styles you can find when you’re shopping for your new apron.
For most people, the pinafore may be the traditional apron. These aprons will loosely hang from your shoulders and drape around your body. They are comfortable, unobtrusive, and fit really well over most outfits. A pinafore linen apron is a great option for keeping cool in any kitchen situation.
Cross-back bib apron
The cross-back bib apron fits a bit closer to the body. The bib is attached to two long straps which go over the shoulders and then cross at the middle back; to put it on, you guide the straps through holes in the waist and simply tighten or loosen them to adjust the fit of the apron.
Neck strap bib apron
This style of apron is extremely easy to put on and take off, as the bib is held in place by an adjustable neck strap. You adjust the apron to your waist using separate ties. Easy, practical and stylish.
This one is also called a bistro apron or waist apron. It only covers the bottom torso and thighs, so it’s the style that offers the least amount of protection. However, it’s good for quick and easy jobs; you probably won’t be using this as you work for several hours over a grill, but it might come in handy for other tasks. The waist apron is most common in the hospitality and catering industry, and are common restaurant aprons.
There are other apron styles, such as smock aprons, cobbler aprons, tuxedo aprons and disposable aprons (not to mention personalized aprons), but they’re all variations on the above styles, which are the most common ones you’ll find.
5. Best Aprons To Buy
This is our pick for the best apron you can purchase. A sturdy, stylish piece that will clearly identify you as the culinary commander, a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen (or in front of the grill) and someone who is well equipped to deal with just about any challenge that may arise. A heavy-duty top-grain piece of clothing that is made to last and look great for a long time.
- Crafted with genuine top-grain Brazilian leather, soft and cool to the touch.
- Equipped with three easy-access chest pockets, as well as an extra-large knife pocket for your knife of choice (and if you’re looking for knives, you’re in luck -- we have quite a selection to choose from).
- Features a genuine-leather adjustable cross back harness that is built to evenly distribute weight across your shoulders, preventing neck strain.
- Gorgeous design and extra-thick buckles. Easily the best-looking apron you’ve ever owned.
- With its high-end materials and design, this is a premium product that is in the upper end of the price range. Home cooks who are looking to spend less money might prefer some of the other selections on this list.
2. Sous Team 6"
A wonderful offering for professional chefs or home cooks alike. The Dalstrong heavy duty waxed canvas sous team 6 kitchen apron is a sturdy, stylish piece designed for optimum performance and efficiency.
- An apron that functions as smoothly as it looks, with a fully adjustable genuine-leather cross back harness customized with the iconic Dalstrong lion insignia.
- Waterproof, dirt resistant, and (crucially) very comfortable extra strength waxed canvas.
- Extremely functional and efficient design and space allocation: features 2 chest pockets for convenient storage of any item, plus two generously sized outer front pockets, a kangaroo pocket, as well as towel and tong loops.
- Sturdier material than your average apron string.
- If you prefer the feel and construction of top-grain leather aprons, check out the The Culinary Commander Top - Grain Leather.
If you come across a product described as “the Kitchen Rambo,” you pretty much have to buy it immediately. At least that’s my own gut reaction. This incredible piece of kitchen armor is a poly-cotton light-weight apron that is designed with comfort in mind, without sacrificing any of the freedom or durability you absolutely need in the kitchen.
- Hand-crafted with ultra-premium materials for maximum durability.
- An extremely versatile apron with a customized apron fit.
- Handsome camouflage design that’ll dazzle any dinner guest, truly living up to the Kitchen Rambo name.
- Its unique camo design may not be everyone’s cup of tea; if you’re looking for something a bit cleaner, check out the other aprons on this list.
- May not be a good idea to wash with your white kitchen linens.
4. The Gandalf
This absolutely gorgeous apron is called “the Gandalf” for its color, but there’s nothing old or withering about this incredibly versatile and durable apron. High level design and functionality with a light-weight construction, this is a stylish grey denim apron that is made to last.
- Double stitched pockets with a stylish grey stripe, thick top and bottom hems to preserve the classic apron shape, and genuine leather accents that give it an added touch of class. This apron feels good, works great, and will last you a long time.
- Equipped with three easy-access front pockets and one hidden interior stash pocket is ideal for quick access to your phone, wallet, or anything else you need.
- Iconic Dalstrong lion insignia stitched on the front pocket.
- With its eye-catching design and distinctive color, this denim apron looks fantastic but may clash with some outfits. If you’re looking for denim apron with a similar construction but a different design and color, check out the The Night Rider below.
Here’s another wonderfully light-weight yet durable denim apron. Nicknamed the Night Rider for its distinctive black denim, this thick-denim, low-maintenance apron will be the secret weapon of home cooks looking for style and functionality.
- Whether you’re a professional cook or a home chef, this apron’s stylish look and wonderful comfort makes it an absolute pleasure to wear while you work.
- Just like its lighter-colored counterpart The Gandalf, this apron features three easy-access front pockets as well as one hidden interior stash pocket.
- Low maintenance, extremely easy to clean and look after.
- A fantastic gift for your favorite home cook.
- This dark black denim design is understated and serious, which suits many home chefs. If you’re looking for something a bit more eye-catching, look into the The Gandalf or the The Kitchen Rambo above.
Nothing quite so American as blue-jeans and a backyard barbeque. With the American Legend denim cotton apron, you’re bringing those two things together thanks to its gorgeous blue denim and light-weight, adjustable design.
- Classically designed with genuine leather accents and Dalstrong’s iconic lion insignia engraved on the front pocket.
- Made with ultra-premium 100% blue denim cotton for extra durability.
- Extremely attractive blue color which goes great with just about any outfit, making this a very versatile apron from a style standpoint.
- If you’re not a fan of the classic denim look reminiscent of blue jeans, you should check out the other denim options on this list: The Night Rider or The Gandalf.
6. Frequently Asked Questions About Aprons
What does “apron” mean?
The word “apron” is derived from the French word napperon, which refers to a small decorative tablecloth (like a placemat). As often happens, the word mutated over time, and “a napron" turned into "an apron.”
What color apron do chefs wear?
Since the 19th century, chefs have been known to wear white. This is to give the chef a status of importance, as the color is associated with prestige and cleanliness. It takes a while to reach this status; apprentices, for example, traditionally wear blue.
How do you tie an apron?
This is going to be different based on the type of apron you’re using. But in a general sense, these are the steps to ensure you’re correctly tying most types of aprons.
- Put on your apron so that its front surface covers the front of your body, adjusting based on where the apron falls.
- Bring the waist drawstrings to the back of your body and tie them in a bow around your waist. If you find the strings are too long, cross-tie them behind your back and bring them around the front to tie the bow.
- Pull the knot tightly, making sure to tug on the apron to ensure it fits properly and stays on.
You can also check in with our Expert Knife Finder Quiz and get specific recommendations based on your needs.
Written by Jorge FarahBorn on the coast of Colombia and based in Buenos Aires, Jorge is a cooking enthusiast and kitchenware obsessive with a tremendous amount of opinions.