Rugged aprons from Kaufmann Mercantile and Blackbird

Aprons for your most rugged kitchen chores

Frilly, decorative aprons are fine if you don't plan on getting your hands dirty.

The type of cooking we like, however, requires a protective garment that actually protects.

We're not alone, it seems. At Bar Agricole in San Francisco, bartenders sport custom denim aprons with plenty of pockets. Los Angeles's Kaufmann Mercantile carries a similar style, made from selvage fabric, by Stronghold Denim ($125) and available in two lengths. Either would be equally at home in your kitchen or your garage.

If your kitchen is your studio, the Washington-based studio Blackbird has a Trusty Workshop Apron II ($85) that could be an indispensable part of your toolkit. It's fashioned from heavy-duty sea-green canvas, with space for a calculator–should you need help with recipe fractions–and a second large pouch pocket with a flap to keep out cutting-board debris.