What to Look for in a Great Apron—According to an Expert
We talked with Ellen Bennett, of Hedley & Bennett, to find out her best apron-related tips.
12-15-2020
Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

A good apron is the ideal kitchen companion: here to protect your clothes and keep essentials, such as a thermometer, phone, pen, and dish towel, on hand. But not all aprons are created equal. To find out what distinguishes a good one from a great one, we talked with Ellen Bennett, founder of Hedley & Bennett, which makes handcrafted aprons and kitchen gear. Here are her top apron-related tips.

 

In general, what features and materials make for a good apron?

Bennett says there are a few things: An apron should not feel heavy (i.e. avoid hardware or too many buckles up top); its neck strap, if it has one, should be about an inch wide so that it doesn’t dig into your neck; and the fabric shouldn’t be thicker than a pair of jeans “because that’s gonna be too hot in the kitchen,” she explains.

How should an apron fit?

“It shouldn’t pucker up in the front,” Bennett says. “You want it to lay completely flat on your chest.”

Should you opt for a bib, crossback, or a smock apron?

A bib apron has an adjustable strap that goes over your head, and “it can fit lots of different-size people,” Bennett says. A good one also has a waist tie and pockets, or as Bennett puts it, “everything you need and nothing you don’t.” As for a crossback apron, its straps cross in the back and don’t sit on your neck, making it a great option for someone who cooks all day. “It’s a little bit like a sports bra,” Bennett says. “Once it’s in place, nothing is moving, and it doesn’t ride up or down at all on your body.” Smock-style aprons go on over your head and have two broad straps of fabric that sit on your shoulders, like a sleeveless shirt. They are supersimple to put on since there are no ties involved. They’re also looser and rather flowy, making them supercomfortable.

a flower print apron and a purple tie dye apron laying beside each other
For more info on the different styles, click the image above to check out our test cooks' top picks.

And what about a leather apron—are they practical or more for aesthetics?

“They tend to be very heavy,” Bennett says. “They’re not as functional as aprons made out of a canvas or a denim.” She suggests something wax coated for a more rugged option. 

And, lastly, cleanup. What do you do if you get a stain on your apron?

Use a little Dawn dish soap. “It’s the trick of every good kitchen,” Bennett says. 

Photo Credit: Shayan Hathaway

 


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