An Apron Manifesto; or, How to Get All Tied up with Apron Strings of Love

After your funeral, do you think your granddaughter will bury her face in your professional-looking briefcase or in your treasured apron? When a woman puts on an apron, it makes no less of a statement than a fine leather briefcase. It announces she is on duty to be receptive to whatever happens in her home and everyone that encompasses. And that is a wider sphere of influence than many would allow.

An apron is like a uniform that conveys authority and unconditional regard and motherly wisdom all at once. Who said aprons are just about cooking and cleaning? They are also about emotional availability, hospitality, and femininity. They state in clearest terms that to serve is to reign. 
There is an apron renaissance going on out there and much of it is recorded on the Internet.

Women everywhere are taking pictures of their aprons and posting them on certain blogs. They are scouring the Internet looking for vintage patterns and materials. They are writing about what being a mother and a housewife means to them. These women aren't depressed. They don't need valium or to drink secretly or to watch a wildly popular television show that is a diabolical inversion of their lives. 

 I am not proposing that we make out like we are Catholic Martha Stewarts with St. Therese sacrifice beads. This is not about impossible standards of perfection. Our husbands, our children, our guests, and our sanity come before immaculate homes. In fact, aprons can signal to pop-callers that a woman is about to clean her house. That she is far too gracious to let a little mess detract from her innate sense of hospitality.

I think a National Wear-an-Apron Day should be during the month of Immaculate Mary, the day after Mother's Day, May 14th this year. Amidst the quiet drama of our everyday lives, we can celebrate in gratitude our homes and families by toasting each other with tea and homemade cookies and fresh buttered bread. And go ahead, on Career Day at your local school, invite a girl over to see what your life is like. She most likely will have no idea how to hold a baby or how to make a stew or how to bake a casserole to take to a bereaved family or how soft your apron is for drying tears.

The devil very well may wear Prada, but authentically feminine women wear aprons!

If you support a National Wear-an-Apron Day, please email the Kitchen Madonna at

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  • Guest

    I absolutely loved this article and what it describes and advocates, and a few months ago, I began to rediscover the apron myself – realized I had a couple of them put away that I never used and found out how extremely practical they are also – sure saves your clothes!

    Another item of clothing that I wish that women would rediscover is hats, which used to be almost de rigeur for women when they went anywhere out of the house, until the early 1960s. The right hat adds a lot of style to an outfit (I get lots of compliments when I wear mine), is very appropriate for church, and when out of doors, a broad-rimmed hat will protect your face from wrinkling, sun spots, skin cancer, etc. (just wearing sunscreen is not enough) and helps to keep your head cool in the heat. In the winter, a hat or cap or beret is eminently practical for warmth and warding off colds and flu. I love hats! Yet, even when it is freezing cold, I notice that very few women ever wear hats! Is this another sad legacy of radical feminism? Do women today view hats as passe, a sign of subservience or what?

  • Guest

    Steph, I think that you are right — that women do not wear hats because they are following radical feminists who are themselves following a man — in this case, John F. Kennedy, who wore no hat at his inauguration.

    Hats are eminently practical for us men as well. My first was a crushable black felt pinch-front fedora that I bought to keep the rain out of my ears, something a mere cap can not do. I wound up wearing it every time I was out of doors all winter long. Alas, it is now misplaced and I have not seen it for years.

  • Guest

    I don’t wear hats because of the issue with “hat head”. I also don’t wear aprons (because I think they make me look fat), but I get the overall theme of this article: that nurturing home and family is a much more rewarding role for women than climbing the corporate ladder. I agree wholeheartedly!

  • Guest

    I love hats and always wear a wide brimmed gardening hat. If I just added a flower or two, it would be suitable for Mass! I used to have a collection of church hats when I was Episcopalian but alas haven't worn them since I converted. I do have a gordeous black lace mantilla!

    Kitchen Madonna
  • Guest

    The only hats I own are for wearing in zero-to-subzero temperatures. I do have a mantilla, which I have worn on the rare occassions when I have attented the Tridentine Mass.

    As for an apron, I haven't even seen one outside of a resturant in years ! It would be silly to wear one for the minimal cooking I do, and, as for my mother passing on her apron, the last one she owned was turned into dust rags years ago !

  • Guest

    I don't own a briefcase, either. I guess if I ever have a granddaugther, she'll have to bury her face in one of my book totes ! Laughing

  • Guest

    As a man, this article caused me to remember the very powerful images of my mother and grandmother wearing aprons. I hadn't thought about them in a long time.  Aprons, that is — I think about my mom frequently.

    When I was in high school, I got a job at a garden center and they gave us aprons to wear. I was always amazed at how dirty they got, even when I was doing tasks I didn't think were that dirty.  Consider all the crud we get on ourselves now because we consider aprons silly-looking.

    There is simply a heck of a lot of wisdom in the way things were done a generation ago that were pitched out for no good reason.  Bringing them back into use, not as a mandate mind you, seems like a sensible idea.

  • Guest

    Aprons, I used to hate to wear them.  Until I realized it was only my pride getting in the way of wearing them.  Now if I have my good clothes on I'm sure to wear one because we all know pride goes before the fall!

  • Guest

    I think it also needs to be said that a guy in no way diminishes his manliness by wearing an apron.  After all, most of the great cheffs are in-fact, men.  As a Boy Scout, I was expected not just to be able to cook, but to cook well.  We were also expected to keep our tents/leentoos clean.  [What's a leentoo?  Think small wooden house, then cut the front half off.  No door, just a big opening.  Wind, water, and dirt can be problomatic.]  I'm proud to say my leentoo was swept clean and kept that way. 

    I say, a man who can't clean and cook, is not a man. 


    Real men bake cookies! Uraa!!!Yell