What is an Apron Dress?

Mandi R. Hall

An apron dress is a type of dress or jumper with a design styled like an apron. While aprons have traditionally been worn over a woman’s clothing to serve as a protective garment at home and work, its updated version is a chic outfit in itself. A 21st century apron dress may be worn without an additional layer of clothing underneath. Aesthetically similar, both the apron and apron dress typically have a bib-style front, one or two pockets near the bottom, and a tie in the back.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Apron dresses may be constructed from a variety of dress patterns, but they are all quite comparable. They typically reach mid-thigh or hit just above the knee. Unlike house aprons, which typically have an opening in the back comparable to that of a hospital gown, apron dresses cover the back completely. They may button or zip up the back, or tie in the back with a sort of ribbon or string. Smock-like aprons are popular due to their one-size-fits-most capability.

Smock apron sizes can easily be adjusted by tying the string tightly or loosely, depending on the consumer’s desired snugness. The dresses are, however, meant to be worn in a fairly loose and relaxed manner. Like aprons conventionally worn by housewives and nurses, apron dresses are often made of cotton, jersey, linen, or other inexpensive fabrics that are easily washable. Though not worn primarily for domestic chores such as cooking, cleaning, and childcare, apron dresses are meant to be both fashionable and functional. In fact, they often come in patchwork patterns that make it easy to repair snags or holes — adding another patch wouldn’t matter!

Though they were never obsolete after their inception, aprons made a notable comeback in the early 21st century. This retro look inspired many fashion designers to construct dresses reminiscent of the long-established garment. Apron dresses are popular amongst babies, girls and, women, alike. The item of clothing is often paired with tights and Mary Janes, which are a type of rounded-toe shoe primarily made with black patent leather. It may also be paired with sandals for a carefree look, or construction work boots for a contrasting look.

Other terms commonly used for an apron dress are jumper, baby doll dress, pinafore dress, and vintage apron dress. Though none of these terms directly signifies an apron dress, they all have some similar element. New versions of the apron dress are shorter, sleeveless, long-sleeved, or have halter top style necks. Patterns for apron dresses may be bought at most any fabric or craft store. Consumers may also be able to find an apron dress at a vintage or used clothing store.

An apron style dress is commonly made with a flowered or otherwise printed material. Ruffles, button adornments or lace are often applied to the dress, as well. Those who choose to make their own apron dress may, of course, construct it with whatever materials they see fit.

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