By Deane Barker

Definition: a sleeveless garmet worn as an apron to protect what’s underneath

(Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

This is usually a sleeveless dress worn over another dress or shirt. It can be considered a “wearable apron.” In some cases, they are open at the back, like a hospital gown.

It traditionally didn’t have buttons, and was “pinned” to the “fore” (front) of other clothes, hence the name.

Why I Looked It Up

I vaguely recognized the term, but thought it had a maritime/naval context. This is likely becuause of a 19th century play called H.M.S. Pinafore where the name of a traditional female garment is applied to a warship in the name of comedy.

Then, in The Imagineering Story, I came across this:

Alice (from the children’s story) was in her pinafore with a toy White Rabbit.

This is item #589 in a sequence of 838 items.

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