You may have seen "plain" cotton aprons, and decorative dark blue aprons worn by Masons. But ours have light blue trim. What is the difference?
An apron is the "Badge" of a Mason; its trim and trappings are decorative, and may indicate rank or office. Thus in processions, or when visiting a lodge, a Mason may simply borrow a plain apron and wear it during the meeting. Throughout the world, each Mason is presented a plain, white apron at the completion of his Third Degree ceremony, or "raising". Later, if he serves as master of his lodge he is traditionally presented with a Past Master's apron and case.
At Churchill Lodge, in token of our affinity to all things British, we proudly wear aprons trimmed in light blue, used by most British, Canadian, and Commonwealth lodges. While we practice the Minnesota Work (~ritual) for our formal meetings, we also know the British Emulation Work, and in token, have opted for light blue trim.
Plain aprons are used in a pinch by all Masons, but in conferring degrees, new initiates receiving the Entered Apprentice, or First Degree are given a plain apron to wear. These may be trimmed in white satin, but more often are without trim.
When an Entered Apprentice is "Passed" to the Second Degree, he earns the right to wear a Fellowcraft Apron, with TWO rosettes. An Emulation lodge will only have a few of these, as for most new members, the Fellowcraft stage only lasts a month or two.
If you've seen rosettes with a dash of scarlet at the button, those indicate a Mark Master: a separate, UK order.
When a Fellowcraft is "Raised" to the Third Degree, he earns the right to wear a Master Mason Apron, with THREE rosettes. Technically then, most members of a lodge have the right to wear these aprons, unless serving or having served in a higher office. In a pinch, many will opt for a plain white apron, for convenience.
While a brother serves as the Master (~president) of his lodge, he earns the right to wear the Masters' (pictured) or Past Master's Apron, distinct from the regular members, whether he is a current or former master. The upside down "T" symbols are levels, symbolic to the rituals of the lodge. The trimmed, hanging tassels are merely decorative, as is the addition of silver trim, called "silver ball and chain". A man's office may be indicated by the symbol at center, bottom, in this case the Square. Each office may have a different sumbol at the center bottom of the officer's apron, the designs of which are familiar to US Masons.
At the completion of his term, the Master of a lodge joins the ranks of Past Masters, and may continue to wear a Past Master's Apron to symbolize this rank. Here is a version, trimmed with two tassles, again, officially called "silver plated ball and chain tassels."
Some lodges place the embroidered seal of the lodge in the lower center, as is our intent. Optionally, one may opt for the past master's symbol.
Here is the Past Master's symbol. It is used either at the lower center of a Past Masters apron, or may be found on a pocket jewel, or hung at the front of a ceremonial collar like an officer's jewel. Collars may include a decorative silver braid around the coller, centered or on the edges, in addition to a standard vertical braid, extending to where the jewel hangs.
Alternatively, a Pocket Jewel may be worn to indicate the rank of Past Master, where it would be inappropriate to wear a collar and jewel.
Technically, once a man has completed his term as Master, he may continue to wear the jewel of his prior office, the Square, but you should notice that lodges append this with a rectangular device hanging beneath the Square. Photographed here as a set is a more elaborate Immediate Past Master or Past Master Apron and its accompanying Jewel, hanging from a formal collar. Officers wear such collars and hanging jewels to designate their office; Past Masters are entitled to wear a PM collar and jewel.
Traditionally, lodges use silver in their color pattern, complimenting either the light blue of Emulation lodges or the dark blue of American style lodges.
You may at times see Masons with gold and purple trimmed aprons. These colors indicate Grand Lodge rank or service.
In the UK, other colors indicate various branches of Freemasonry, with Red trim used to denote Royal Arch lodges. A splash of red on a light blue apron indicates Mark Master lodges; other colors are used to indicate membership in dozens of other branches of our gentle craft.