We absolutely love our French Maid Apron but we were curious about where the sexy little vixen's roots lay. Was there a sexy French Maid outfit back in the day or was it dreamed up by someone with a feather duster fetish? Tipsy Totes investigated and here's what we found!
There was indeed a French Maid who had her beginnings in the early 19th century. She wasn't nearly as glamorous as today, however.
During the 1800's upper middle class families were looking to further embellish and accessorize their lifestyles and began focusing on hiring young beautiful French women for household chores. By most accounts, hiring a French maid was such a sign of prestige that if a family could not afford a French Maid, they would hire a less expensive maid and ask her to pretend to be French! This was during a time when very few women actually worked outside the house so having the French Maid was a luxury as the woman of the house was available.
Did we talk about how different her uniform was compared to what we know as a French Maid today? Her outfit was dreadfully conservative...so very prim and proper! Her full dress buttoned up to the collar bone and hung down to at least past the knees or to the floor. So she didn't get the dress dirty she often wore a white apron and sometimes a white cap as well. Hardly recognizable as a French Maid today!
Hiring a French Maid in the 1800's meant every day chores like tending to the household, cooking, cleaning, minding the kids was all included as well as 24 hour service at times. It was convenient to keep her in servant quarters within the house to make life simple when she was needed at 3AM. And of course over time this meant the rumors and accusations of love affairs between employers and French Maids surfaced. Her reputation soon became a bit more indecent and scandalous. It was the beginning of our current day associations with the term French Maid.
But to make matters worse, American burlesque furthered the cliché with comedy skits of gorgeous, uncomprehending young French girls in skimpy little outfits in questionable situations. These costumes were meager versions of the standard black and white uniforms typically worn by real French Maids. The outfits were risqué enough to tempt but just enough to stay off the censor's radar so they didn't get shut down during this time period.
So next time you put on your Tipsy Totes French Maid Apron, consider her sexy burlesque history and midnight chores and channel that sexy little Temptress!