I’m not a butcher, and I’m tired of wearing aprons that make me look like one. For years it felt like every “cool” apron was made with thick fabric and leather straps and cut with linebacker’s proportions in mind. But now labels are crafting a style that’s almost more dress than apron, and as someone who spends her days working in a test kitchen, it couldn’t have happened quickly enough.
Sometimes called Japanese-style, they’re made of a soft, flowy fabric (typically linen) and cut in a cross-back pattern to facilitate freedom of movement. The cross-back pattern is so much more comfortable than aprons with shoulder straps—it doesn’t pinch you and it doesn’t get bunched up with ties. Lest you think it’s the kitchen equivalent of a snuggie, though, know that it’s clean and stylish enough that people may think it’s actually part of your outfit (really, it happens to me all the time).
If you need more convincing, just know that I’m not the only staffer devoted to these aprons. “If there’s not some barrier between my clothing and cooking, I’m having a crisis,” says senior associate food editor Molly Baz . “I wear jumpsuits all day long, and this is an extension of my normal everyday wear. Aesthetically and comfort wise, it’s my go-to.” Plus, after a long day of recipe testing chia tapioca pudding and chaider, these aprons can go straight into the washing machine. Here are five of our favorite cross-backs.