All the components of a chef's uniform, the apron is perhaps the most personal-and the most customizable-item of clothing. Deceptively simple and humble, aprons protect the cook from myriad stains and spills, some of them more dangerous than others. Naturally, a chef's apron needs to be comfortable and durable above all else, but once those basic requirements are met, an apron can be colorful or conservative, long or short, denim or cotton. Every chef prefers something different.

All the components of a chef's uniform, the apron is perhaps the most personal-and the most customizable-item of clothing. Deceptively simple and humble, aprons protect the cook from myriad stains and spills, some of them more dangerous than others. Naturally, a chef's apron needs to be comfortable and durable above all else, but once those basic requirements are met, an apron can be colorful or conservative, long or short, denim or cotton. Every chef prefers something different.

AJUMAMA "I have a collection of what I call my Korean housewife aprons," says Laura Lee, owner of the Korean food truck Ajumama, laughing. The Korean-style aprons fit her petite frame better, and she has them in a range of quirky fabrics like Hello Kitty and cartoon owls. "The crazier the apron I can find, the better."

KITCHEN + THREADS One local chef took it upon himself to design and sell his own line of aprons. Silas Caeton, until recently the chef at Veritas Tavern in Delaware, couldn't find an apron that fit properly. "I'm taller than average and, on me, most aprons look like little skirts in the front," he says. "So I decided to design my own." Once he did, he realized his aprons might be useful to others as well and used a successful Kickstarter campaign to get his new business, Kitchen + Threads, off the ground. The thoughtfully designed, colorful aprons are made from 100 percent organic cotton. "The more you read about [the cotton industry], the more you realize what a big problem it is," Caeton says. "So we chose to go with responsibly sourced materials." Kitchen + Threads has also pledged to donate 10 percent of every sale to a group that fights human trafficking. kitchenplusthreads.com

TILL "There's a hidden language there," says Magdiale Wolmark, chef at Till Dynamic Fare. "No matter how casual you dress, the apron shows how serious you are." Working off that philosophy, Wolmark prefers a dark, businesslike blue.