This month I have mostly been wearing an apron, and have styled it without an ounce of post-modern retro irony. I’m not going for a wife prize, nor am trying to be risqué (I am fully, and warmly clothed underneath). I’ve just been wearing it for the protection it gives me from everything January flings my way (and because my bum doesn’t look big in it).
Fig leaves not withstanding, aprons are arguably the first clothing ever worn by man or woman, their design being a variation of the loincloth (where a string around the middle ties a fabric bib over the frontage). Over the centuries they have become soaked in ritualistic meaning, from jewel-encrusted versions wore by Cretian fertility goddesses and Assyrian priests, to the white leather Masonic aprons worn in some closed circles today. They have been used to denote rank and trade (in the Middle Ages cobblers wore black, stonemasons wore white, weavers, spinners and gardeners wore blue) and to symbolise 1950’s post-war domesticity and homemaking.
Today I am wearing mine as both armour and style-statement as I work away in my freezing studio. It is keeping me a bit warmer, keeping the cat hair off my lap, and lending a nonchalantly layered look that somehow pulls me together.