Aprons: Fifties FUNctional Fashion

Through April 18, 2010

Ah, those fabulous 50s! The mention of the era brings back memories of malt shops, diners, rock ‘n roll, cocktail parties, and .aprons? Just think of June Cleaver and Harriet Nelson from the iconic TV series and try to imagine either of them in the kitchen without their aprons.


Today’s trends in decorating are bringing back the retro look of the 1950s with modernly efficient appliances made to look like the stoves and refrigerators of the time. Not only is “Leave it to Beaver” continuing to run in syndication, but movies have recently come out depicting the darker side of suburban life in the 1950s. Throughout it all, aprons are definitely still in the picture.

They are also quietly becoming collectors’ items. A few exhibitions around the country in recent years attest to their growing popularity among serious collectors. One of them, Joyce Cheney, donated a sizeable portion of her trove to the ATHM in 2008. The aprons from her donation – and some already in the museum’s collection – will form the core of an exhibit at the ATHM opening on The exhibit will showcase many of these one-of-a-kind accessories from the 50s in a bright, colorful, and FUN manner. Aprons on display will range from the totally useful (full coverage aprons protecting clothing from cooking spatters), to flowery half-aprons worn by suburban housewives, to those worn by waitresses in the diners of the day, and the elegant confections known as hostess or cocktail aprons worn solely as accessories while entertaining guests at home. A section of novelty aprons, such as those made from handkerchiefs, and also some travel souvenir aprons will also be on display.

Many of us of a certain age clearly remember our mothers, aunts, and grandmothers wearing aprons as they gathered for dinners and holidays. Visitors to the exhibit will have a chance to try on a few different pieces, and possibly awaken some of that nostalgia.lecture-Fifties-Fashion2lecture-Fifties-Fashion1

Back to top