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White aprons were intended to be decorative, rather than functional, in the eighteenth century. Earlier in the eighteenth century aprons were vehicles on which women could display their skills in embroidery, stitching colorful floral patterns across silk backgrounds; later in the century, however, preference shifted to linen aprons embroidered with white linen threads. White aprons remained in fashion until the turn of the 19th century, when the empire style eliminated the natural waistline, making the apron an awkward accessory. Their decline in fashion may also reflect changing attitudes toward women's housework in this period, as middle-class women were increasingly inclined to demonstrate their refinement rather than their industry.
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