How we tested
We waded through a lot of ruffles, pleats, and chintz—and fronts reading “Kiss the Cook”—to round up seven no-nonsense, utilitarian cooks’ aprons in different materials and lengths, priced from $6 to $69. Since grease and other kinds of splatters often land above the waist, we stuck with bib-style aprons. Styles ranged from the most basic, no-pockets, nonadjustable shapes to feature-laden designs such as one that included a towel in its own carrying loop and a built-in corduroy potholder.
We enlisted seven test cooks, including men and women of different heights and girths, to try them all on and assess their comfort and fit. Then we assigned each cook one apron to wear for a week in the kitchen. We got the aprons back, along with an earful about what worked and what didn’t. While making a fudgy brownie pie, we saw the advantage of the widest apron of the lot, a 39-inch-wide cotton/linen combination that wrapped completely around all testers and offered handy coverage for chocolate splatters.
Last came our stain-making test: a dousing of yellow mustard, soy sauce, chocolate, and coffee that we let soak into each apron overnight. Not everything came out in the wash. In fact, our winner was the only apron to emerge completely clean in one wash. This was a nice addition to its other advantages of comfort and coverage. With an adjustable neck strap, long strings that wrap around the back to tie in front, and a chest area reinforced with an extra layer of fabric, it was soft but rugged. Its look is pure practicality—which suits us just fine.