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Party Like It’s 1950

Adorable vintage aprons found in thousands of stores around the world.


Courtesy of Jessie Steel

Inspired by the 14 Hawaiian-themed vintage aprons she picked up on a trip to Kauai, Helena Steele doodled designs on cocktail napkins during the flight home. Then, she approached daughter Claire with the idea of starting the company that would become Berkeley’s Jessie Steele.

“A lot of people thought we were crazy,” says Claire. “They’d say, ‘Aprons? Where’d that come from?’ But then there was such a huge positive response.”

The two spent a year tweaking 1950s patterns before launching Jessie Steele at trade shows in 2003. The feedback was immediate: The company grew quickly, and its aprons can now be found in more than 3,200 stores around the world, including Anthropologie.

The designs also have made appearances on Oprah and Desperate Housewives, in the pages of Vogue, and on stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Kristin Davis, and an iconic Golden Girl. “There’s a great Betty White shot, where she’s got this guy who’s totally bare chested in the kitchen,” says Claire. “She’s cooking in our apron, with a bottle of whiskey and cake mix.”

Available in several local stores and online at jessiesteele.com.


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