There are many different apron forms depending on the purpose of the apron. A basic distinction is between waist aprons, which cover the body from the waist down, and bib aprons, which also cover the upper part of the body.
An apron is usually held in place by two ribbon-like strips of cloth that are tied at the back. A bib apron may either have a strap around the neck (perhaps the most widespread use today), or shoulder straps that criss-cross at the back and attach to the waistband. The advantage of the former design is that it makes it especially simple to put on the bib apron. The advantage of the shoulder strap design is that it makes the apron more comfortable to wear; a neck strap can slightly impair ease of movement.
The bib apron (also known as the "French chefs apron" or a "barbecue apron") has been worn for centuries. The bib apron's humble beginnings began when people used scraps of fabric to make a bib-like covering that slipped over the neck and tied at the back.The bib apron's intuitive design and full coverage have made it a popular apron for tradesmen and people in low-economic classes since the 1880s—and maybe even earlier. In the 1960s—when women no longer wanted an apron that symbolized domestic ideals—the bib apron became the most-used apron and is now offered in a multitude of variations, colors, detailing, and fabrications.
Pinafore style apron. Main article: pinafore Pinafores may be worn by girls and women as a decorative garment or as a protective apron. A related term is pinafore dress (American English: jumper dress); it is a sleeveless dress intended to be worn over a top or blouse.
A pinafore is a full apron with two holes for the arms that are tied or buttoned in the back, usually just below the neck. Pinafores have a complete front shaped over the shoulder while aprons usually have no bib, or only a smaller one. A child's garment to wear at school or for play would be a pinafore.
A tabard (British English; cobbler apron in U.S. English) is a type of apron that covers both the front and back of the body. It is fastened with side ties or with waistbands that tie in the back. It covers most of the upper part of the body and is used in many occupations, like bakeries, hospitals, and large retail stores. The original cobbler's apron was typically made of leather.
An alternative version uses snaps instead of ties and closes at the front. Such an apron is in effect like a vest and is more commonly sold for domestic rather than occupational use.
A bungalow apron is an item of women's at-home clothing. Most bungalow aprons were extremely simple garments, often with kimono sleeves (sleeves cut in one piece with the body of the dress), little or no trim, and the fewest possible fasteners. Most date from the first half of the 20th century (roughly 1910 into the 1940s), when they evolved into or were replaced by the "patio dress" or Lounger available today.
In contrast to most aprons, they were intended to be worn as a stand-alone garment, not over another dress. They probably developed from the full-coverage wraparound or pullover aprons of the early years of the 20th century.
Bungalow aprons fell roughly between nightgowns or housecoats and house dresses; they were appropriate for morning in-home wear but would not have been worn outside of the house, as opposed to a true morning or house dress, which might have been worn to the grocery store or in other informal situations.
The term apron also refers to an item of clerical clothing, now largely obsolete, worn by Anglican bishops and archdeacons. The clerical apron resembles a short cassock reaching just above the knee and is colored black for archdeacons and purple for bishops. The apron is worn with black breeches, reaching to just below the knee, and knee-length gaiters. The history behind the vesture is that it symbolically represents the mobility of bishops and archdeacons, who at one time would ride horses to visit various parts of a diocese or archdeaconry. In this sense, the apparel was much more practical than a clerical cassock would be. In later years, this vesture was more symbolic than practical, and since the mid-twentieth century, it has fallen out of favor.