What is a Cobbler Apron?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

The cobbler apron is a frequently seen and oft worn bib apron in many different types of businesses. You may note them on restaurant workers, retail clerks, optometrists or dental assistants. They are perhaps reminiscent of aprons worn by shoemakers, though it is a challenge finding much history on the cobbler apron. They do seem to have been popular for home wear in the mid 20th century, and you can still find vintage aprons or patterns for the cobbler apron dating from the 1950s.

Woman baking cookies
Woman baking cookies

Most cobbler apron styles cover both the front and back of clothing, but allow the sleeves to show. Instead of tying at the back of the waist, as do many other aprons, the cobbler apron is tied via several ties on each side of the garment. Length of this type of apron is generally either to the knee, or ends at mid thigh. Most cobbler aprons feature a large front pocket, handy for storing a pen or pencil and a notepad or other small items. Theoretically a cobbler could have kept small tools in the front of this type of apron.

If you like the cobbler apron for home use, you may have difficulty finding one. They’re simply not a popular style in the home anymore. Yet you can find these aprons fairly easily by looking at work uniform stores, or by searching for a vintage one on the Internet. Occasionally vintage aprons from the 1950s have metal snap buttons down the front instead of side ties. These are slightly reminiscent of the housecoat.

For people who want to provide their workers with cobbler style aprons, they can be made in bulk in many different choices of fabrics, colors and logo designs. Many companies tend to choose a polyester/cotton blend or 100% polyester that will resist staining. Unfortunately, polyester is not the most breathable of fabrics, and can be somewhat uncomfortable to wear, especially if you have to work long hours in hot or very busy conditions.

On the other hand, the cobbler apron made in polyester does serve the excellent purpose of keeping the front and back of your clothing on your upper body clean. Eliminating the necessity of constantly stain-treating your clothing may make this apron a beloved or at least tolerated part of your uniform. In the home or school setting, you might try cobbler aprons for young children who are engaging in messy play. Finger painting, using glitter glue or working with clay can all be easier on the clothes when an apron is worn. The cobbler style is easier for younger kids to don, since the side attachments are more accessible than a sash tie at the back of the waist.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


I have to disagree with the cobbler aprons not being a popular style anymore. I have been making cobbler aprons for a while now, and they are one of my best sellers. Customers can also have a custom cobbler apron made by choosing two fabrics from our large selection of fabrics. The cobbler aprons are reversible and made in the US.

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