pearl encrusted face mask by Christian Siriano

Face Masks as Part of the New Normal

According to many experts, wearing face masks will be part of our new normal for quite a while, thanks to Covid-19. This pandemic is not only changing how we behave (social distancing and sheltering in place) but what we wear (sweats all day and now face masks) and even how we think.

I have a funny story… I was texting one of my styling assistants, asking if she had any good local sources for face masks. She’s on the west side and even though we both live in Cleveland, OH,  the east and west sides of the city sometimes operate as parallel universes. Anyway, in my mind, when I said face masks it was the kind you wear to cover your nose and mouth, to keep your germs to yourself and hopefully keep other people’s germs away. But her response was all about skincare and her favorite pore cleansing masks!! Same word, totally different meaning!!

And while I am totally into skincare, at this moment, I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea that we might actually be wearing protective face masks for quite a while.

So Many Questions About Face Masks

If face masks are going to be part of our lives for a while (some say it could be for up to a year) there are a lot of questions about them. Not just from a health and safety perspective, but from a HOW DO I WEAR ONE AND STILL FEEL LIKE MYSELF, perspective.

Here are just a few of the questions I’ve received from both clients and readers…

  • Should I order cute patterns or solid colors? What’s better?
  • Should the masks match your outfit? Is that even a thing?
  • What about light-colored masks? Better for summer but will they get covered in makeup or dirt?
  • What about kids? And husbands? What’s appropriate for them?
  • How many masks should I have? One that goes with everything? Or different ones for different outfits?
  • Can I use a designer silk scarf (like Hermes) as a mask?

All totally valid questions. Some I have answers for, some I have opinions about and some are just personal preference. There is not a total right or wrong from a fashion perspective about masks. It’s all so new and unchartered right now. So it’s like the wild west and we are all just figuring it out as we go along.

But It’s Covering Half of Your Face!

Embarrassingly, what keeps going through my mind is that I recently finished the Invisilign process where I lisped, spit a little and had bad breath for the past 18 months. And now that my teeth are finally straight, it’s all going to be covered by a flippin’ mask!!! UGHHHH

But really, a face mask, while protective, covers your face! Our faces are the way we communicate and express ourselves. The way others identify us (and our phones too!) And it if it has to be covered, I’m thinking there are many people that will want to use it as a form of self-expression or as a fashion statement. Or at least make sure it doesn’t clash with what they’re wearing once they can finally get out of the house.

Think of Masks as an Accessory

While I don’t think masks need to completely match your outfit – as in it does not need to be made from the same fabric or pattern, although that could be fun… I do think masks are going to become an accessory to consider when putting together an outfit.

The same way shoes or a bag as an accessory can be an afterthought  – think a pastel floral dress with a large black tote bag. Or they can be an intentional accessory. Serving as an integral element to the outfit that can be functional and still help elevate the entire look – think of that same dress but with a straw clutch and sandals. That is how I think we will need to approach masks – as an intentional accessory. At least for the near future.

There’s Matchy, Matchy and Then There’s Matching.

I saw this (I think on Instagram) and while matching sets like this might happen…

Image may contain: possible text that says 'The Trikini 2020'

I’d suggest there is another way to have your masks work with your outfits. Approach the mask a piece of the outfit. Ideally, the fabric, color, and pattern should work with the other elements of the outfit.  Not fight against them. View the mask as you would a scarf or top or even a statement necklace.

The colors should have complementary elements and marry the various items in the outfit. The scale of the patterns should be different (one large and one small) and the feel of the mask should mimic the feel of the outfit. Meaning you wouldn’t wear the Cavs mask with the floral dress.

dress // mask // bag // shoes // bracelet // sunglasses

sweater // shoes // mask // belt // jeans

jacket // sweats // mask // shoes // t-shirt

dress// mask//bag // sandal

Some of My Favorite Fashion Masks

Let me Answer the Questions…

Should I order cute patterns or solid colors? What’s better? Just like any accessory, I’d opt for a variety. Probably a few of each.

Should the masks match your outfit? Is that even a thing? I think I answered that pretty well above.

What about light-colored masks? Better for summer but will they get covered in makeup or dirt? I think masks are going to need to be washed after each use so it’s probably not an issue. And maybe if we’re wearing them we won’t need to wear make-up?? Maybe???

What about kids? And husbands? What’s appropriate for them? My husband will probably pick a more subdued mask for everyday use. My teens as well. But some may pick to shout out their favorite sport or team or band. I think little kids are actually going to have fun with this.

How many masks should I have? One that goes with everything? Or different ones for different outfits? The same way you change and wash your underwear or shirt, and therefore need different pairs, the same will hold true for masks. I’ve read that having 5 per person is a good amount.

Can I use a designer silk scarf (like Hermes) as a mask? I feel like that is personal, but also, I’d be wary of wearing silk because it’s not as easy to wash and rid of the germs that cause this virus is super important.

As I mentioned last week, and probably the three weeks before, It’s kind of challenging to know what to write about right now. PLEASE, PLEASE, if you have any thoughts or ideas, questions or style challenges, let me know.

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Photo: This could be the future of protection and fashion according to Christian Siriano.

Author

Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.

4 Comments

  1. Really great post, Hallie! I’m going to ask my teen daughters to read it. I don’t think they realize that they are actually going to have to wear masks in public; they think their mom is just being overprotective when I talk about it!

    • Hallie Abrams Reply

      Thanks Sue! I don’t think any of us realize what’s going on right now. It’s all so new and weird. Stay well!

  2. Thanks so much for the enlightening information. For the life of me I can’t find that Chanel face mask anywhere. Can you help this 72 year young retired fashionista go out in style? Thanks ever so much🌟🤗

    • Hallie Abrams Reply

      I think you’re talking about the facemask WKYC used in their spot with me. That was a photo they found online. I am sorry, I do not have a resource for that particular piece. I have seen some creative folks on Etsy taking designer dust bags and making masks – maybe try that. Thanks for reading and stay well!

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