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Whether you cook in sudden bursts or make a weekly loaf of bread, it's worth investing in a quality apron. An apron has two main jobs: to protect the wearer (and the wearer's clothes) from stains, spills, and heat, and to remain comfortable while doing so.
An apron may seem like a simple piece, but thoughtful details can make it more than just a barrier between a chef and splashing oil. We spoke with Alex McCrery and Jenny Goodman, the founders of TilitNYC, a professional kitchenware retailer, to get a sense of what quality apron design entails. They said speaking to chefs and line cooks is the primary way they get ideas. For instance, consider their signature slanted chest pocket: "We got feedback that items like pens and thermometers fall out of vertical pockets when chefs lean over, so we made ours slanted."
There is no one perfect apron, and ultimately, it's a personal choice based on your particular needs and cooking style. To inform our search for the best places to buy chef aprons, we used TilitNYC's guiding principle: "a healthy combination of functionality and aesthetic."
Thanks to multiple fabric options and thoughtful design features, Hedley & Bennett aprons are made to be worn by professional chefs and home cooks alike.
Hedley & Bennett focuses on the quality of its designs over quantity, offering only four apron styles. Three of those four chef aprons have the same basic design: three pockets (one on the chest and two on the hips), a towel loop, and adjustable straps. The poly-cotton essential apron is the best example of the brand's blueprint and is available in the most colors and prints, including collaborations with Sesame Street and The Grateful Dead.
Variations on the essential apron include the crossback style with adjustable back straps and the waxman apron. The latter is Hedley & Bennett's most durable option, thanks to its soy-waxed cotton canvas and reinforced leather straps.
Hedley & Bennett aprons are unisex and one-size-fits-all, with a few kids' sizes and one plus-size option. When Insider tested the aprons, we found that they offered full coverage for a variety of body types.
Tilit aprons are made with durable fabrics and convenient pockets, and are meant to be worn, washed, and worn again in bustling kitchens.
The basic Tilit apron design is a chef apron with a slanted chest pocket, one hip pocket, and an adjustable neck strap (the bib apron is identical). The slanted chest pocket is a Tilit signature, born out of the desire to keep small items like pens or thermometers from falling out when cooks lean over. Within that style, you can choose from several fabrics and design features – maybe the wrinkle-free poly-cotton apron if you hate creases, or the denim supply apron with a hidden interior pocket.
In addition to the classic chef apron, Tilit has six unique styles based on specific occupational needs and chef collaborations. For example, Tilit worked with chef Tom Colicchio to create a color-blocked apron with a water-resistant zippered chest pocket.
While Tilit doesn't offer sizing options, they do make an apron specifically for women, which has darting and a narrower shape.
Chefworks aprons have the detail and durability required for professional kitchens, in a range of styles and cuts that make them accessible to home cooks.
Chefworks aprons are made for chefs moving in and around heat sources, other cooks, and splashing ingredients. However, thanks to the variety of options and the clear organizational system of the website (you can search by design elements and cuts), Chefworks aprons are great for serious home cooks, too.
The company offers three main apron cuts that we consider chef-style: chef, bib, and short. All aprons of the same cut share dimensions, but vary when it comes to pockets, reversible fabrics, towel loops, and other details. Additionally, a few apron styles come in multiple cuts. For example, the Berkley apron is a cross-back denim style that's available as a chef, bib, or short apron. The three Berkley cuts have the same fabric and strap style, but different design elements.
You won't find patterns or pop culture-inspired prints at Chefworks, but there are several color options in the catalog and some aprons have customizable straps.
The FiveTwo apron selection is geared towards the home chef and has an eclectic mix of fabrics, styles, and thoughtful design elements.
Since chef-ware is only one part of FiveTwo's merchandise, you won't find a large selection of aprons here. A combination of FiveTwo exclusives and other brands makes for a slightly disorganized shopping experience, but the aprons cover the range of home cook preferences.
We're fans of the company's exclusive designs, like the ultimate apron – a cotton bib style with a chest pocket, two hip pockets, and an adjustable neck loop. This is a true home cook's apron with a conversion chart hidden within the pocket and built-in corner potholders.
If you're looking for novelty prints, Williams Sonoma offers basic aprons in whimsical patterns.
Unlike those made with professional chefs in mind, Williams Sonoma's aprons don't have as many functional design elements. The classic apron, exclusive to the retailer, is cotton and features double front pockets with an adjustable neck strap. Most of the printed and themed aprons are variations of this style.
Personalization is included in the price of the classic apron, but it is also available on other designs, like the bay stripe apron, for an extra fee. You can add up to 14 characters and choose from eight fonts. There is also a selection of matching adult and child-size aprons. Kids' aprons have velcro necks for easy on-and-off.
For more intense home cooks, Williams Sonoma offers a crossback apron with a water-resistant acrylic coating, four pockets, and a towel loop.
If you're looking for an inexpensive, bare-bones apron, Amazon is worth checking out.
In its endless catalog, Amazon has a little bit of everything, and aprons are no exception. Since Amazon isn't specifically catering to chefs, and the aprons come from many different brands, quality and attention to detail varies by a wide margin. You'll find aprons with cooking puns and simple designs alongside waterproof grilling aprons with tong loops.
Based on our research and conversations with experts, we found some quality picks. First, we focused on aprons made from machine washable fabrics with adjustable straps. Then, we considered helpful design elements, like the four pockets and towel loop on the Hudson Durable Goods Professional apron, or the water-resistant fabric in the Syntus Aprons Two-Pack.
There are also inexpensive bulk packages, which are great if you like to have extras on hand or if you need to outfit a group. Of course, having an Amazon Prime membership means you'll be able to get some aprons within a day or two.
In general, aprons are one-size-fits-all garments – the main consideration is coverage and comfort rather than a particular fit. Additionally, almost all aprons have adjustable straps and ties. Still, there aren't a ton of options for aprons that offer full coverage for plus-size chefs.
We found two picks from well-regarded apron retailers. Hedley & Bennett sells "The Big Apron," which provides extra coverage, but it is only available in three colors and the website doesn't list the exact measurements. BlueCut Aprons makes "El Jefe," which measures 39 inches long by 42 inches wide, with a 12-inch adjustable neck strap and 48-inch waist straps.
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