As foodies we all know the importance of protecting our clothes and bodies while we cook. Some of us choose cooking smocks and others prefer aprons. I like and own both. But I bet anytime we put on our smocks or aprons, most of us have never thought about the cool history behind both.
Since this blog isn’t only about recipes, but also about learning anything that has to do with food, I invited a friend to fill our heads with some cool smock vs apron history. Enjoy!
Smock or apron – what is the difference?
It’s very easy to spill liquids, such as oil, while you are cooking. Doing so can leave a greasy stain on what you are wearing. Likewise, if you are painting a picture, the last thing you want to do is get oil paint on your clothes. This is why, if you are carrying out a potentially messy task, such as cooking a meal, or painting, you need to make sure that your clothes are protected.
Smocks and aprons are both garments that you can wear to protect your clothing. And, they are often confused with each other. So, what is the difference?
The origins of smocks, and how they are used
The smocks of old were made from very heavy fabrics, and were mostly worn by people living in rural areas, such as shepherds. They tended to be wide fitting garments that were often decorated with a smocking stitch. One of the most important considerations for the people who wore smocks was the cost. They were cheap items of clothing and were also highly durable.
Today, smocks are less of a fashion statement than those that were decorated with stitching, years ago. They are still loose fitting garments, with sleeves, but are generally made from lightweight materials, and worn over clothing, for protection.
Schoolchildren often wear round-necked smocks, which can be pulled over the head, during craft and art lessons. Coat smocks are more often worn by health professionals, for protection and hygiene reasons. No matter which type of smock os worn, the main aim is the same; to provide protection for clothing which is being worn underneath.
Aprons in the past, and today
Aprons were first worn by labourers, as far back as the middle ages. They had the same purpose then as they do today; the protection of clothes. Over the years, different types of apron have started to be produced, made from materials such as leather. These aprons are worn by craftsmen, such as stonemasons.
Today, more than ever, aprons are often seen as a fashionable item. This is especially the case when they are worn by certain professionals, such as front of house staff in restaurants. Often, these aprons are emblazoned with the name of the restaurant. In restaurant kitchens, chefs wear heavy duty linen aprons, for protection rather than to make a fashion statement.
Unlike smocks, aprons do not have sleeves. They generally either tie around the waist and protect the lower part of the body, or tie around the neck and waist, when the torso also requires protection.
As you can see, the main function of both smocks and aprons is to provide protection from splashes and spills. The apron has also evolved into a fashionable item of clothing, in certain industries. Many businesses include branding on aprons that are worn by employees. Smocks are now less fashionable than they were back in time. The situation has reversed for smocks and aprons, and smocks now tend to be used for practical purposes only.
Thank you Trent for this amazing detailed explanation and guest post!
*Photo courtesy of Aprons.com.au