[caption id="attachment_68550" align="aligncenter" width="600"]<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2020\/07\/Aprons.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="468" class="size-full wp-image-68550" \/> APRONS CAN BE functional, fancy or just plain fun. Not only do they protect your clothes, the pockets come in handy for keeping all kinds of essentials at your fingertips. Above, a selection from a collection. Start yours today. At left, this bit of \u201cfancy\u201d was purchased at the 4th Avenue Gallery in the Depot in Marlinton. Check it out. You may find your fancy, fun or functional apron there, as well. J. Graham and Artisan Co-op photos[\/caption]\r\n\r\n<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2020\/07\/Apron.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="661" class="alignleft size-full wp-image-68549" \/>\r\n\r\nLaura Dean Bennett\r\nStaff Wrtier\r\n\r\nThe oldest known English poem about aprons suggests that even in the 16th century, ladies hoped to make an impression in a fetching apron.\r\n\r\n\u201cThese aprones white of finest thred\r\nSo choicelie tide, so dearlie bought,\r\nSo finely fringed, so nicelie spred,\r\nSo quaintlie cut, so richlie wrought,\r\nWere they in worke to save their cotes,\r\nThey need not cost so many grotes.\u201d\r\n\r\n~ from \u201cPleasant Quippes for Upstart New-Fangled Gentlewomen,\u201d 1595, \r\nby Stephen Gosson\r\n\r\nAprons are, arguably, the single most useful item of clothing ever imagined.\r\n\r\nWhen I was growing up, moms, grandmoms and proud little girls wore aprons over their dresses to protect them from dirt and stains.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIt was far easier to wash or replace an apron than a dress.\r\n\r\nBesides protecting one\u2019s clothing, an apron could double as a hand towel or a potholder, could be used to carry in eggs from the henhouse or kindling in for the stove.\r\n\r\nIt also came in handy when it was time to bring in a few things from the kitchen garden or apples from the orchard.\r\n\r\nWhen unexpected company drove up the road, a mom could untie that apron, uncovering a clean housedress \u2013 even doing a bit of dusting with it \u2013 on the way to greet her guests.\r\n\r\nIt could also serve as a signal flag.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAt dinnertime, grandmom could step out on the porch and, if she didn\u2019t have a dinner bell to ring, she would wave her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come and eat.\r\n\r\nIt was one of the handiest things in the kitchen \u2013 and it still is.\r\n\r\nThe word \u201capron\u201d comes from the Medieval French \u201cnaperon,\u201d which referred to a small tablecloth.\r\n\r\nThroughout the course of human history, both genders availed themselves of aprons.\r\n\r\nGlass blowers wore singlets, farriers wore leather and butchers wore rubber.\r\n\r\nEvery culture has used aprons for practical and protective purposes, as ceremonial garments, indicators of marital and parental status, rank and group affiliation, and purely as decoration.\r\n\r\nThe original apron may have been made of fig leaves, as the King James version of the Bible mentions the apron in its story of Adam and Eve.\r\n\r\n\u201cAnd the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.\u201d Genesis 3:7.\r\n\r\nEver since we\u2019ve worn clothing and needed to protect it from getting dirty, we\u2019ve needed aprons.\r\n\r\nThroughout Europe, Britain, Asia and the Scandinavian countries, housewives, tradesmen, artisans and even warriors wore aprons for functional reasons.\r\n\r\nThe tabard apron, which covered the upper body, front and back, like a tunic, made its debut in the Middle Ages.\r\n\r\nIt was worn by peasants, monks, cobblers, farriers and even knights.\r\n\r\nAlso during the Middle Ages, a custom arose of certain colored aprons being used to signify specific trades.\r\n\r\nFor instance, bishops traditionally wore purple, butlers wore green and stone- masons wore white to protect from the white dust on the stone.\r\n\r\nCobblers wore black aprons against the black wax they used on shoes.\r\n\r\nBlue was worn by weavers, spinners and gardeners.\r\n\r\nButchers wore blue-striped aprons and barbers wore checkered aprons.\r\n\r\nMany of these traditional apron colors are still used today.\r\n\r\nOver the centuries, men\u2019s aprons have tended to remain functional, while women\u2019s were decorated with embroidery, smocking and lace.\r\n\r\nThey were indicators of prestige \u2013 usually made of linen or wool and sometimes trimmed or lined with fur.\r\n\r\nIn England, aprons, like all fashion, took a sudden turn in the 1650s when Oliver Cromwell decreed that women and girls should dress modestly.\r\n\r\nThis sparked the Puritan look of a white apron covering a long black dress that reached from a woman\u2019s neck to her toes.\r\n\r\nIn the French court of Louis XIV, ladies\u2019 aprons became haute couture and reached the zenith of decadence, with one \u2013 embroidered with gold and silver threads and encrusted with precious stones and pearls \u2013 reportedly costing more than $32,000 to make.\r\n\r\nDuring the 19th Century, the\u00a0bib apron \u2013 the typical chef\u2019s apron \u2013 which had been around for 200 years \u2013 evolved into a starched, full-length, full-skirted and ruffled version for cooks, maids and household servants.\r\n\r\nBy the turn of the 20th Century, housewives had embraced the \u201cbungalow\u201d apron.\r\n\r\nEasy to make, with kimono sleeves, no trim and few fasteners, it was designed to be worn by itself, not over other clothing.\r\n\r\nPerfect for early morning housework, this type of apron was an early version of the housedress \u2013 something between a housecoat and a nightgown.\r\n\r\nThere was a change in style when the \u201cHooverette\u201d or \u201cHoover apron,\u201d came along.\r\n\r\nIt was jokingly named after the man in charge of the U.S. Food Administration at the time, Herbert H. Hoover \u2013 who, by the way, would one day become president.\r\n\r\nThe wraparound coverall covered the same amount of territory as a short-sleeved, three-quarter length dress and was made from cheerful and colorful fabrics.\r\n\r\nPatterns for making the practical Hoover aprons abounded, and it would have been a rare housewife who did not own at least one of these classic aprons.\r\n\r\nThe 1920s and 1930s also saw short half-aprons beginning to make a play for the limelight.\r\n\r\nSleekly costumed housekeepers in the homes of the well-to-do, and waitresses at restaurants and on the silver screen turned the cheeky little apron into a fashion accessory.\r\n\r\nBut under the shadow of the Depression, for most women, an apron was about anything but glamour.\r\n\r\nAprons were made from old clothes or scraps of material sewn crazy quilt-style.\r\n\r\nThey were sometimes embellished with embroidery, crocheted trim or rickrack, or cross-stitching.\r\n\r\nPinafore aprons, or \u201cpinnies,\u201d reappeared in the early 20th\u00a0century, in less formal and shorter versions than their original Edwardian cousins.\r\n\r\nThis classic apron style was mainly worn by children.\r\n\r\nAdorned with ruffles, ribbons and bows, pinafores featured more fabric at the shoulders than traditional bib aprons.\r\n\r\nDorothy famously wore a blue and white gingham pinafore in The Wizard of Oz.\r\n\r\nAfter World War II, a grateful return to \u201cnormal\u201d family life took hold in American culture and mom\u2019s apron became the symbol of cozy family ideals.\r\n\r\nAprons began to be taken seriously as high fashion again in the America of the 1950s.\r\n\r\nTV moms wore them on\u00a0shows like Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best, and moms at home eagerly followed suit.\r\n\r\nThey even made aprons to match their dresses, their kitchens, their tablecloths and their seasonal d\u00e9cor.\r\n\r\nHigh-style, short-length cocktail party aprons become all the rage.\r\n\r\nOften made of starched georgette, abbreviated in length, decorated with appliqu\u00e9s and looking for attention, aprons were a fashion statement.\r\n\r\nAs America moved to the suburbs, the cocktail apron came with them.\r\n\r\nAnd even men began to wear aprons at home.\u00a0\r\n\r\nBarbeque aprons burst onto the scene with the popularity of the barbecue grill.\r\n\r\nIt didn\u2019t take long for the man of the house to have his very own apron emblazoned with\u201d World\u2019s Greatest Dad\u201d or \u201cWorld\u2019s Laziest Chef.\u201d\r\n\r\nMany even sported the matching chef\u2019s hat.\r\n\r\nDuring the\u00a01960s, stay-at-home homemaking ideals became less popular, and, with many women, so did the apron.\r\n\r\nIn some quarters, aprons were old-fashioned garments that only our grandmothers wore.\r\n\r\nOf course, they never went out of style at work.\r\n\r\nChefs, butchers, barbers and waitresses never did and probably never will, take them off.\r\n\r\nIn the 1970s, terry cloth and permanent press aprons were favored, as practicality won out over fashion.\u00a0\r\n\r\nEach state, city and vacation spot was represented on aprons and tea towels as souvenir shops tempted female travelers.\r\n\r\nHoliday aprons were de rigueur for the hostess at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year\u2019s Eve, Easter and the Fourth of July.\r\n\r\nThe1980s brought us personalized as well as aprons bearing our company or organization\u2019s logo.\r\n\r\nBut the fast pace of modern life seems to continue to leave the household apron \u2013 the feminine symbol of home and hospitality \u2013 in the dustbin of history.\r\n\r\nBy the turn of the 21st Century, it seemed most American women had all but forgotten about aprons.\r\n\r\nWorking full-time and shuttling the kids to and from soccer, baseball, basketball and football, had us running through the drive-thru, ordering in, or eating out.\r\n\r\nOur mom\u2019s and grandmom\u2019s aprons were stored in the cupboard, along with the good china and silver.\r\n\r\nMaybe wearing an apron looked too old-fashioned for modern women.\r\n\r\nBut fashion must, like a shark, keep moving forward, even when it\u2019s sometimes circling back.\r\n\r\nWith renewed interest in cooking, gardening and crafting at home, the humble apron is experiencing a resurgence of popularity. \u00a0\r\n\r\nWhether it\u2019s the memories it evokes or the sub-conscious message that it conveys, an apron \u2013 even one just hanging on a hook in the kitchen \u2013 seems to say, \u201cWelcome home.\u201d\r\n\r\nAnd that will never go out of style.