The Simple Things
THE PINAFORE DRESS
The pinafore dress is just right for this time of year when there is still a nip in the air and the threat of chilliness is afoot. Its bib provides an additional layer, like an external vest, under which garments of varying thickness can be worn. Try it with a T-shirt, a polo neck jumper, a blouse – they all work. Plus you can throw an additional layer of cardigan or jacket over the lot for extra warmth if required. It is what the fashion press would call a ‘transitional garment’, and who are we to argue with that?
Last seen in the 70s, the return of the pinafore dress owes a lot to the dungaree revival. The bib and braces silhouette has become normalised and appreciated for the comfortable and practical option it is. The pinafore also has the additional benefit of not being divided at the crotch, thus enabling greater freedom, ease and spaciousness. You can tuck into a hearty lunch with relish knowing that all is concealed beneath its forgiving roominess.
There is a danger, of course, of looking like a hockey-stick wielding St Trinian’s schoolgirl. The best way to avoid this is to not wear it with a white blouse, especially not with a Peter Pan collar, or Mary Jane shoes (or a straw boater come to that), but to keep it looking grown-up. Denim versions, especially dark denim like the one from Toast, below, have a utilitarian, knockabout appeal that avoids looking prim. Although the pinafore hasn’t yet made it to the boardroom, design doyennes like Alexa Chung have been seen sporting glamorous evening versions that are totally grown-up and elegant.
The pinafore started its life as an enveloping apron. Not a frilly one that ties around the waist but a coverall as worn by Victorian maids as they went about their dusting and grate-cleaning duties. These original pinafores were pinned ( hence the name) over clothes, not buttoned, and were open at the back with a bib at the front. The word ‘bib’, by the way, was originally the frill at the front of a man’s shirt. A ‘tucker’, as in ‘bib and tucker’ was a piece of lace covering a woman’s neck and shoulders.
Pinafores also rocked the fashion world in the 60s, when French designer André Courrèges created miniskirted versions, like Twiggy’s ( left). Shorter ones are back, but for comfort and the opportunity to let your waistline gently expand, we suggest a more generous option. You’ll never take it off.
“Its forgiving roominess means you can tuck into a hearty lunch with relish”