Claire McCardell herself, the pioneer of American women's sportswear, seems to have perhaps initiated this idea. Take her early "popover dress" for instance:
Behold the attached oven mitt! The Met's information on this dress includes the following tidbit:
In utility achieved with ingenuity, McCardell found a synergy. The modern woman could both be chic and do the cooking. In a photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, the model wearing the "Popover" has one hand in an oven mitt and the other in her capacious pocket.Of course, this text fails to note that the oven mitt was ATTACHED to the dress - they make it sound like the photographer stuck it on the mannequin on a whim. No, the whole idea of the dress - style paired with domestic labor - was very premeditated.
The idea was certainly reflected in patterns of the time, as on this 40s house dress with the oven mitt tethered on.
The concept also seems to have evolved into "hostess outfits:" dress ensembles that included aprons or smocks. Hostess aprons were often made of tulle or chiffon, and were meant to be seen by guests. These patterns, like the one below, went so far as to coordinate the whole domestic ensemble of dress and apron, both meant to be worn while entertaining - not as a house dress for chores only.
This maternity pattern with an interchangeable apron and stole really says it all, don't you think?
I think this was very much sold as the aspirational lifestyle for a woman of this time - switching effortlessly between gorgeous home and street wear, all while tending to her burgeoning brood. Though that chiffon apron will look mighty amusing during the third trimester, I think. Not that the pattern illustrations could actually show a pregnant woman. (Gasp! My delicate sensibilities!)
This pattern for little girls starts 'em young.
And perhaps the pattern most fraught with symbolism EVER: a wedding gown with an apron.
Chew on that for a second, will you? Though it's not of the decade we're focusing on here, I just couldn't resist.
So there you have it, readers. Aren't you glad our dresses have broken free of the shackles of the attached oven mitt?