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Textile and Costume Museum
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Twentieth Century Cinderellas: Women and Thier Aprons

Exhibition Dates: April 2002 - August 2003

Twentieth Century Cinderellas featured women’s housekeeping garments from 1900 to 2000, viewed as unique in time period, form, and function.  Exhibited aprons reflected fashion changes as well as changes within American culture during the landmark century.   A turn-of-the-century dusting cap, a 1910s full sleeved bungalow apron, and a brightly-colored c.1970 butcher apron were representative of shifts in silhouette, fabrication, and embellishments that marked the one-hundred-year period of apron styles.  Aprons used as vehicles for self expression included “message” aprons such as souvenir aprons and aprons and those with imprinted sentiments.  “Handmade” aprons allowed the maker to express herself not only in color choice and surface design but also fabric type, whether woven gingham, crochet, patchwork, handkerchief, dishtowel, or of feed sack origin.  Aprons chosen to acknowledge “Special Occasions” in entertaining included fancy holiday and party aprons such as a card party apron.  “Job Specific” aprons illustrated how housekeeping has taken different forms through the century and so have the design of aprons for certain tasks.  Servant aprons with matching collars and cuffs (common prior to World War II), an apron with knee pads for floor cleaning post-1940s, and clothespin aprons were included as a reminder of the changing needs in apron wardrobes.  Commercial apron patterns, Good Housekeeping ads featuring women in aprons, and catalog pages offering aprons for sale supported the exhibited aprons and further illustrated twentieth century aprons as being unique in time period, form, and function. Visit the virtual scrapbook for this exhibition.

Read more on our other past exhibitions