aprons, complete guide

The Complete Guide To Chef Aprons

Any chef, cook, or anybody worth their salt ( no pun intended) knows that aprons are an essential part of the kitchen. They are as crucial as a soldier's vest in battle. As a chef, the kitchen is your battlefront--your pot, spoon, and spatulae are your arms and ammunition, while the apron can be regarded as your bulletproof vest.

What does a chef's apron do? First, it protects you and your clothes from spills, splashes and flames in the kitchen. More importantly, in the culinary world, chef aprons accentuate, or better yet, ooze professionalism.

While not all health guidelines specifically mandate aprons, they do require donning clean protective garments to protect both the food from the chef and vice versa, and wearing aprons is the quintessential cost-effective option(really, no one wants to see their chef coming out of the kitchen tying a towel.)

History of the Chef Apron

Before we go any further, here is a brief history of chef aprons.

The development of aprons cannot be attributed to just one person or even narrowed down to a specific date.

From figurines discovered in the Greek Islands of Crete depicting fertility goddesses dated to 1600 BC, to wall paintings and ancient sculptures attributed to ancient Egypt and ancient China depicting gods wearing aprons. Aprons are a timeless fashion element consistent in different civilizations and ages worldwide.

During the Middle Ages middle ages, aprons were popular amongst women and tradesmen. Women saw aprons as an essential part of their dress to protect their skirts during meals, while tradesmen and artisans used aprons to protect their flesh and clothes from stains and other harmful materials while they worked. Tradesmen were called "apron men" because of how common it was amongst them—the kind of apron they had on distinguished their trade from others. For example, gardeners, weavers, spinners and waste collectors wore blue aprons; butchers wore aprons with blue stripes.

Nevertheless, during the mid-1800s, aprons alluded to homemakers and women doing household chores. But, with the invention of washing machines and the emergence of feminist movements of the 60s, those ideas were rightfully eroded.

However, in the culinary world, the chef aprons were popularized by the first celebrity chef Marie-Antonie Careme.

Marie-Antonie Careme apron founder, first ever celebrity chef, who created apron

In his depiction of the ideal chef look in 1822, he sketched two chefs in uniform. Marie Antonie's uniform consisted of the following:

Marie-Antoine Careme's depiction marked the apron as a significant part of a chef's uniform.

Also Read - History of the Chef's Uniform

Different Styles of Aprons

As you know by now, just as there are different kitchen utensils, there are also different types of aprons that come in various shapes and colors, and are made from different fabrics ( from cotton to plastic). Here is all you need to know about the different styles of aprons

1. Waist Apron

waist apron

Waist aprons are also called server aprons or half aprons. As the other name suggests, waist aprons are not explicitly designed for chefs but are intended for servers.

Waist aprons are short in length and do not cover the upper body. This keeps the server lightweight and makes it super comfortable for them to shuffle around from table to table. In addition, there are pockets on both sides for the server to hold their pens, straws and other utilities.

They are not just common among servers, but with waiters and bartenders too. .

2. 4-way Aprons

Denim-Aprons, 4-ways apron

The four-way aprons are heavy-duty aprons. They have four layers of adjustable clothing that can be folded and refolded multiple times, creating four clean surfaces you can use while cooking food.

These aprons are most useful in the thick of things--in the heart of the kitchen that is— where there is a lot of cooking.

Since it comes in 4 ways, you do not have to change your apron altogether once you spot a stain; you can quickly reverse and interchange the clean surface and stay clean and fresh while cooking. Amazing, isn’t it?

3. Bistro

Bistro apron style

Just like the waist apron, the bistro is lightweight and does not offer any coverage for the upper body. However, they provide more coverage for your lower body when completing messy tasks, like cleaning the tables and clearing the dishes because they extend all the way down to the ankles. These have pockets too, and offer very little protection while cooking because there is virtually no protection for the upper body.

4. Dishwasher Apron

Dishwasher Apron

A dishwasher apron is a perfect apron to wear while dishwashing. They are full-length aprons covering your upper body down to the ankles.

Furthermore, they tend to be fire retardant, waterproof, heat and cut resistant as the first form of defense from unwanted kitchen accidents.

5. Cobbler Aprons

Cobbler Aprons

As the name suggests, the cobbler apron is not explicitly used for cooking or in restaurants, but mainly in the hospitality industry.

The cobbler apron is also called a smock. Because they look like an apron mixed with a shirt, some people call them shirt aprons.

The shirt apron covers your entire torso (back and front). They feature side ties so that you can tighten or loosen the apron. Also, they are designed with one giant pocket just in front of the waist.

They are popular among housekeepers, janitors, and bakers.

6. Disposable Aprons

Disposable Aprons

As the name implies, disposable aprons are, you guessed it: disposable! They are usually made with  water-resistant plastic and created in different styles to cover your full body or just akin to the waist apron style.

They are very affordable, and you can wear them if you have occasional projects that involve arts and crafts or for the odd chore or two, such as home renovations or wall paintings.

Disposable aprons can save you a lot of time in the laundry since you don't have to wash them.

7. Blunt Roll Aprons

Blunt Roll Aprons

These look like regular Bib aprons, but they have an extra touch to them. The fabric is made out of washable cotton. Furthermore, they come with a leather pocket you can use as a knife roll. These aprons are especially suitable for amateur butchers.

8. Pinafore Apron

Pinafore Apron

Children mostly wear pinafore aprons. They tend to be customized for different styles and patterns. These aprons provide more coverage for the shoulders than the classic chef apron.

9 .Tabard Apron

Tabard Apron

Common with nurses, bakers and retailers, these aprons have been used since the middle ages when it was commonly worn by monks and peasants. The tabard provides more coverage for both ones back and front.

10. Bungalow aprons

Bungalow aprons

The bungalow aprons used to be popular in the early part of the 1900s. They are simple garments featuring kimono sleeves with no trim and few straps. They are most appropriate for indoor use and aesthetically speaking, can be seen as   more of a nightgown than aprons.

11. Bib Apron

bib apron

The bib aprons are the style of the classic apron. They feature a tie that can strap around the waist and a loose neck loop. Furthermore, most bib aprons have pockets in order for the kitchen  staff to keep their hands free and carry what they need.

They are highly recommended and often used in the foodservice industry,as there is enough fabric for the user to clean their hands.

12. Tuxedo Aprons

tuxedo aprons

The tuxedo apron is a more stylish version of the regular bib apron that also features a loose neck loop. They are perfect when matched with a button-down shirt underneath, and a perfectly knotted bow tie for an elegant look.

They are the perfect aprons in terms of conveying a more stylish and suave look to your staff and your establishment as a whole.

13. Cross Back aprons

Cross Back aprons

The cross-back strap aprons are aprons that look like traditional bib aprons. But instead of a loop around the waist, they have cross-back straps. One of the downsides of the bib apron is that it strains your neck as the apron is essentially hanging from it. However, the cross-back design means they fit perfectly, feel lightweight and are super comfortable.

The Purpose of Chef Aprons

The purpose and the virtues of donning  chef aprons are virtually inexhaustible in the kitchen. Aside from keeping your clothing free from stains when cooking, they offer many other benefits, from safety to hygiene and storage to identification.

Here are some of the purposes of wearing chef aprons:


The primary reason why aprons are worn is for safety. You do not need to be a professional chef to know how stressful the kitchen might be--Accidents are bound to happen. The apron is the first line of defense, especially when working close to the stove.


Another important reason why chefs wear aprons is for hygiene. They help prevent stains and also prevent you from contaminating the food you are cooking with microbes and/or small strands of hair.


With the pockets in the aprons, you can use your hands to perform other urgent tasks. You can keep utensils, pens, phones, notebooks etc.


Chef aprons can be fashionable if you want them to be.


As we said earlier, aprons can be used as a form of identification and a brand recognition method. Simply put, aprons make them look professional. The apron can be the fastest way for customers to tell the difference between employees and chefs or servers. In addition to that, you can add your restaurant logo so customers can tell who to seek  for service.


Chef aprons will always be essential for cooking and are the first line of defense in the kitchen. As we said earlier, the benefits are quite abundant. However, for the most comfortable aprons made from the finest available fabrics, engineered by the radical art of innovation and ingenuity, choose Everyday Uniforms! 

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