Apropos Apron: Chic Looks, Seldom Cooks

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Returning my coffee mug to my drawer of personal stuff at work, I noted the apron still there from my camera room days at Farm and Dairy. Brought from home to protect my clothes, I rarely wore it; it was easier to Spray and Wash my clothes than wear the apron, one my grandmother made. I favored it for the tiny, blue flowered print on black background, plainly piped in yellow – unusual for its day compared to many pinks, whites, laces and frills in her collection.
Reminded of an article that crossed my desk a while back, I sorted out the piece and read it through with renewed interest. Aprons, which fell out of favor when the women’s movement surged in the ’60s, are making a comeback. It explained that marketers have pitched a curve around this one-time symbol of domestic drudgery – the curvy lines that hug the body, that is, providing less than adequate protection from the spills of a hot stove.
One California woman, buying into the trend with several new styles, sported an apron with sweetheart neckline trimmed with black lace for a dinner party at her home although caterers did all the work. The 51-year-old says she wears them almost every night; they’re sexy and, when she wears them to the mailbox, people honk at her.
Combining practicality with sex appeal, the hottest designs represent a new embracing of domesticity. One designer’s skirt and halter-dress creations leave a bit to be desired as protection against cooking spatters, but, being a confessed microwaver who never cooks, she says it’s all about looking fabulous.
Men who take stock in their appearance can pick up on black and white striped models with roomy, square pockets or unisex navy blue with adjustable belts and red zippers. One issue of Gourmet magazine pictured a man wearing an ankle-length apron armed with tongs from a $9,000 Gucci barbecue set.
Apron chic rides the trendy waves with a host of new cooking programs and a rising interest in home entertaining. Though these fashion aprons are sold mostly through specialty boutiques, cooking stores or Web sites – sales are growing. Prices, ranging from $35 to $200, may keep some styles out of the kitchen entirely. Says one homemaker: “… that cost me $50, I’m not wiping my hands on that.”
New apron makers say their best customers are younger women, but I’ll happily join the middle-aged gal from California. Sorry, Grandma – I’m eyeing a card of leftover black lace, and the alterations I have in mind for your red and white, Christmas see-through will see me through the New Year’s party. Fair warning: brace yourself if you’re driving past my mailbox!

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