When you think of an apron, you probably think of cooking, but aprons are used in all types of industries. Think about the main purpose of an apron: to keep your clothes from getting stained. It sounds like an inexpensive tool that does a simple job, but depending on what you’re doing in it, an apron can save you from bodily harm.
There are many types of aprons, in a variety of materials, colors, and styles, and choosing isn’t as easy as it seems. You have to know what you’re trying to accomplish before you wear your apron or you may have too much, too little, or not enough protection. An apron designed for professional cooking will not offer the required protection in a chemistry lab, for example.
Before running out and buying an apron, ask yourself the following questions to ensure you are getting exactly what you need — not just what you think you need.
What Are You Doing That Requires an Apron?
This is an obvious question, but it’s the starting point for determining what type of apron you need. If you’re working in a restaurant, you want something with a certain look, as well as features and functions that will work for you. Aprons for restaurant professionals are designed much differently than those for artists, welders, or carpenters. Understanding exactly what an aprons function is supposed to be will help you make sure you are getting exactly what you need.
Do You Need an Apron to Protect Your Clothes?
This may seem like a silly question, but not all aprons are made for protecting clothes. If you’re working at a festival and just need something to collect money or tickets, then a full-length apron made of heavy duty material will be in your way. If you’re gardening, something that goes to your feet will be cumbersome when you’re on your knees pulling weeds. Maybe you just need something with pockets, or just to protect your top half. It’s important to know what that is before you buy, or you will be wasting money.
Are You Going to Be Using Sharp Objects?
Working in a professional kitchen, you’ll be working with knives and other sharp objects that can easily slice through the thin material of a home apron. A carpenter can very easily damage a thin apron with the tools and equipment he uses.
While even the thickest aprons won’t protect you from every single thing you come across, you want to be able to take some minor scrapes and bumps without having to worry about buying a new apron every time you do.
Do You Want Something Easily Washable?
You probably don’t want to have to wash your apron every single time you use it, but you want something that will resist stains. A chef’s apron is made to resist common cooking stains: grease and oils, acids, or wine. Most can then be thrown into the washer on a regular basis to come clean. An apron made for a chemist may be coated in heavy layers designed to protect from harsh chemicals; a bit much for most things, if you’re working with something that can burn through your skin, you want all the protection you can get. These aprons aren’t designed for washing. Make sure you know what you’re looking for so that you will take care of your investment properly.
What Types of Stains Are You Expecting?
Some stains — paint, bleach, some food stains — aren’t going to come out no matter what. A darker colored apron will hide these types of stains better. It’s a good idea to figure out what types of stains you’re expecting so that when it happens, you’ll know how to treat, and hopefully remove, those stains when you get them, rather than letting them set in while you figure it out.
Are You Working in One Place or Will You Be Moving Around?
If you’re going to be standing in one place, an apron with pockets is probably unnecessary, especially if you don’t have a lot of tools you need to work. Moving from one end of a large kitchen to another, or walking around a house while you’re trying to fix minor items will be much easier if you have pockets where you can keep things like towels or small tools with you wherever you go. It’s not a lot of extra cost, but is worth it when you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to figure out what you need and where it is.
Are You Working in a Hot Environment?
Kitchens and science labs are notoriously hot, and working with power tools can cause you to heat up quickly. Having an apron that is designed to keep you cool will be a big help.
Is Cost a Factor in Your Decision?
You’ve likely heard the phrase, you get what you pay for, and in the case of buying an apron, that is most definitely true.
That is not to say that you should run out and buy the most expensive apron you can find; it will very likely be too much for what you need. However, if you buy the cheapest piece you can find without worrying about features, you will likely end up replacing it very quickly, and it may not provide the function you require for your specific task.
Instead, you should determine the exact features and specifications you need, and then look through a selection of aprons that meet those needs. Find the one that provides the most value for your money, and you will likely not regret your purchase.
How Important is Style to You?
Style is often a factor in most clothing that we wear, but remember the point of an apron is to protect the clothing that you’re wearing. There are stylish aprons out there, of course, but they may not provide the function you need, or they may be made of sub par materials. While you can certainly factor style into the equation, try not to let it be the deciding factor in your purchase. For the kitchen, you can find a high quality urban collection of aprons at Chef Works.
How Often Will You Use Your Apron?
If your job requires you to wear an apron all day, every day, you will want something that is durable and made to last, otherwise you will likely be replacing it often.
If, however, you are a home cook simply looking for something to wear when preparing Sunday and holiday dinners, you don’t need the most heavy duty, durable apron on the market. Buy what makes sense based on your usage, and you likely won’t go wrong.
Choosing the right apron is not as easy as it seems. You may be tempted to pick the most durable, full coverage apron that you can find with tons of pockets, but if you’re working in a hot area, or you just need something lightweight to protect from light stains, you’ll find that it’s overkill. Knowing what you need will keep you from wasting money, and buying something that you won’t wear because it’s either unwieldy for the job or not enough to protect you.
Before buying, go through these questions, answer them truthfully, and you’ll end up with something that will be useful, worth the money, and long lasting.