Face Masks - The New Fashion Essential

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by Stephanie

Before now, most of us had never worn a face mask or even considered how we might incorporate a face mask into our wardrobe. Yet experts suggest that face masks may need to be worn for the foreseeable future. The CDC states, "Cloth face coverings are an additional step to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when combined with social distancing."

Welcome to the new normal.
When life hands you a lemon, put a pattern on it.

From experts in the field of public health to your mother’s kitchen table, there is no shortage of opinions on wearing a face mask. One thing is for sure, face masks are the newest accessory to enter the fashion scene. People are searching for ways to combine personal protection and personal style. If Project Runway’s Tim Gunn were here, he’d say,

              "Make it work." 

The point is if you choose to wear a mask you can still do it with style. So chin up, buttercup.

Tim Gun Fashion

Six months ago, if someone mentioned getting a face mask, you probably visualized spending the afternoon with your favorite esthetician. Hello 2020. Experts continue to recommend reserving N95 masks for our healthcare workers, leaving the rest of us searching for mask alternatives. Many manufacturers have refocused their businesses to address this urgent need. Chances are your grandmother has already crocheted you a mask or maybe you’ve tried a DIY mask project yourself. Bottom line, the market is now fraught with unique face-covering finds. They can be disposable, washable, tie in the back, have ear holes or elastic loops. Some are single layer, double layer, some have filter pockets...

Choosing the right mask to wear is only half the battle. Putting it on correctly is equally important. While it seems pretty straight forward, the details matter. Masks can be worn for different reasons, to protect the wearer, or to protect others. But in many cases, people are wearing masks all wrong. It needs to be seated properly on your face, fitting your face snugly without gapping. Like your favorite pair of jeans. “Wearing a mask takes some getting used to, for sure,” said Dr. Scott Segal, chairman of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health. “You are probably wearing it exactly right if it’s a little stuffy.”


         Helpful tips

  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on your mask.
  • Make sure the mask covers the bridge of your nose and tucks under your chin.
  • Pretend your mother is watching. Keep your hands off of your face.
  • Only handle the mask with the ear loops or ties. 
  • Remove and replace a mask if it becomes damp.
  • Filters are single-use. Throw that thing away! Same for disposable masks.
  • Wash. That. Cloth. Mask. After every use.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after taking off your mask.


Tie dye is having a moment, even when it comes to face masks. For many, it's a throwback to childhood days of summer camps and sleepovers. This DIY craft re-surged in popularity as a quarantine pastime. As did dying our own hair. But that's a discussion for another day.

Styling your mask - is that even a thing?  

For most of us this face mask culture is completely new. But for many Asian countries, mask-wearing is a cultural norm that began with the onset of Spanish Flu over 100 years ago. People continued to wear them, not only to combat disease but also as a way to protect themselves from pollen and pollution. Over the years face masks have grown to be a form of self- expression, leading manufacturers to push the fashion angle. So, although masks as a fashion accessory aren't exactly new on the scene, they also aren't for the faint of heart. It’s going to take some time and maybe a jar of Nutella to wrap our heads around this.

But seriously...what about my make-up?   

Chances are you can skip the full-face makeup routine. It could prove to be a sticky waste of time and expensive makeup. But what a perfect time to highlight your eyes. Try more dramatic eye makeup or an extra coat of mascara to bring attention to your eyes. Or go bold with the brows. Bold eyebrows give your eyes the illusion of being larger. 

But the world doesn’t feel friendly when we’re all wearing a mask!  

It's tough to read facial expressions behind a face mask. Trying to communicate without seeing someone’s expression is a lot like text messaging. Things get lost in translation. Making eye contact is the best way to connect in a conversation. Keep in mind, people have varying levels of comfort with locking eyes. It can go from comfortable to creepy very quickly. “Security!”

Does it all have to match? 

Honestly, it was my first thought. But then I would be the one wearing “twin sets” if I had been around in the 1950s. There’s not a right and wrong answer because it totally depends on your own aesthetic. If your style is eclectic, then mix patterns and colors that complement each other. If you prefer the minimalist approach, go monochromatic. Hey, we just negotiated a pandemic and you’re trying to be socially responsible. If it makes you happy, go totally matchy-matchy Hello Kitty from head to toe. 

 Just be you. 

                                                                                                       - quote of the day - 
                                                                      Fashion is what you buy. Style is what you do with it.

 Sources: Tara Parker-Pope/New York Times, CDC, Tim Gunn 2017/Instagram


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