46th Pillsbury Bake-Off apron

Whitney Port's apron for the 46th Pillsbury Bake-Off features a modern spin on gingham. (Whitney Port and the Pillsbury Bake-Off / June 18, 2013)

When 100 contestants gather in Las Vegas in November for the storied Pillsbury Bake-Off, they'll be protecting their clothes from floury spills in high style.

Fashion designer Whitney Port, founder of the Whitney Eve clothing line, has created this year's official Pillsbury Bake-Off apron. She drew inspiration from photos fans pinned on Pillsbury's Pinterest page in coming up with her jewel-toned modern take on gingham.

Pillsbury hit upon the idea of adding designer aprons to spice up the competition in 2004, tapping Isaac Mizrahi, who created a blue-and-white gingham check apron for the 41st Bake-Off. Other designers who've participated since then include Todd Oldman, who crafted a retro-style khaki apron with red gingham trim for the 42nd bakeoff in 2006, and "Project Runway" alum Althea Harper, who created a modern apron with Mod-looking Op-Art designs on a black background for the 45th bakeoff last year.

This year is the 46th Pillsbury Bake-off, which actually got its start 64 years ago in 1949 and was held annually through 1976, after which it became biennial through 2012. This year, it's returned as an annual contest geared toward today's busy cooks — rules require that recipes use no more than seven ingredients and take no more than 30 minutes to prep, not including baking time.

There's time to get in on the competition. The entry deadline already passed for two of the three categories, "Amazing Doable Dinners" and "Simple Sweets and Starters." But the entry period for "Quick Rise and Shine Breakfasts" will be open from July 4 through Aug. 8. Complete rules can be found at the Pillsbury Bake-Off website. Even if you don't want to bake, you can go online and vote for your favorite recipes and help select the 100 finalists. 

But entering may be a good idea. The grand prize winner stands to win $1 million, plus $10,000 worth of GE appliances. And there are runner-up and other prizes too.

Suddenly, I feel an urge to put on an apron and start baking.

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