MTM Style: Aprons

Last night’s 4am episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show was one of my all-time favorites.  Sue Ann Nivens, WJM’s Happy Homemaker, has an affair with Phyllis’s husband Lars . It was our first glimpse at the naughty side of Sue Ann.

Perhaps I’ve never mentioned here that I have a thing for aprons? I do. And this episode had two great ones. First, the fabulous Phyllis, certainly the most stylish of all MTM characters. Here she is in a full lengthquilted! apron with side ties.

Have you ever seen anything quite so fabulous? Plus, Phyllis is wearing yellow palazzo pants. It’s only a small portion of your women’s ready-to-wear customer that can pull those off. Talk about your 1%ers.

This scene takes in Mary’s original apartment but with the second generation decor.  No longer the funky yellow wicker egg chairs  and globe lights of the original scheme, Mary has a little money now and is able to indulge her preference for French Provincial style. My recollection of the scenery outside that big window has always been trees, bare or leafed out according to the season. Here we can see the skyline of downtown Minnie, where Mary will move in the not too distant future. I wonder if she ever stood at that window and stared at the buildings thinking ” Someday … someday.” No, I guess she didn’t because she was a fictional character. But still, this is a nice touch.

The other apron of note in this episode belongs to Sue Ann and we see it in its natural habitat, the TV set for The Happy Homemaker.

Oh Sue Ann- you and your colonial-style avocado green kitchen. If you remember Sue Ann Nivens at all, you recognize that this pink-ruffled extravaganza is perfect for her. Without the ruffling, I wouldn’t mind it for myself. It’s got a generous bib and a full-coverage skirt down to a full length hem. Hers is spotless; mine would already have a grease stain on it.

This one is for me:

At some point in every episode she’s in, the carefully constructed ultra-ladylike veneer that Sue Ann has constructed cracks. Here she is bemoaning a chocolate souffle that Phyllis has ruined by slamming the oven door. As she’s cooing to the ruined product in the most motherly tones, she slams the oven shut with her knee. Goota love her.

Footnote: Our workaday aprons around here are just like everyone else’s – chef’s style, blah patterns, the occasional chicken image, grease stains. But I’ve got two great vintage bib aprons, the sort that could be purchased at Woolworth’s. One was an apron that I would put on whenever I was cooking or cleaning up with my mother in her kitchen. It was the first thing I took out of the old house after my mother died. It still has use in it and I could wear it if I wanted to, but I don’t want to.  The other is one that her mother gave her when she got married. It was used way past it’s time and is threadbare. I found it -clean, pressed and folded -in my mother’s lingerie drawer.


4 thoughts on “MTM Style: Aprons

  1. My mom always made her dresses, very plain and always the same basic pattern. But there was always an apron, made from the same material. Also plain. As a child, I thought I would do the same thing someday, as I always loved the aprons. Didn’t happen.

  2. The aprons are great. They certainly don’t make them quite like this any more. What gets me in this episode is the tablecloth on the side table next to those elegant chairs, in front of the balcony doorway. It matches the throw pillow behind Mary. Because the 70s, she said.

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