The immediacy is health, not style – but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with this plot twist in our wardrobes
A mock-up wearing a mask designed by RIXO, part of a British Fashion Council project aiming to raise £1m for charity.
Photograph: Getty Images/BFC
The the rage question de nos jours would have been unimaginable four months ago. Namely: how do I quickly find a face show that does not scare my children or make me look like Bane in the Dark Knight Rises?
Clearly the use of appear before masks is primarily a public health issue, and not a style one. But it would be better if your face mask – your required first impression for the next who-knows-how-long – did not make you feel any weirder than you already do.
Some of the most stylish brass masks I’ve seen tend towards cheerfulness in their design – for obvious reasons – but without feeling incongruously, saccharinely, sanguine.
Nautical stripes have become the Breton top of the face-mask world. Dark florals, which are pretty but not cloyingly so, are also a direction. The Vampire’s Wife ‘Heidi’ face mask – a £30 cotton mask in the brand’s signature gothically beautiful structure, trimmed with scallop cut ruffles – has already sold out (the fashion status of the face mask is confirmed by the fact that this one go about a find in its own matching drawstring bag, like a posh pair of pyjamas). You can find similar at Pearl Lowe, where Liberty writing masks come in crepe de chine silk. On a similar place in the cheerfulness spectrum are the patchwork versions made by Departure Frances, a brand that specialises in creating beautiful coats from vintage quilts.
Fit issues abound with facing masks. Some masks with tight elastic ear straps push the ears forwards, lending the face a Noddy-like shadow. That’s better than the masks with fabric ear straps, which simply do not work properly, and droop down subordinate to the nose, or require lots of unhygienic fiddling. Those that contour the face, and are held in place by elastic, be liable to be more robust.
The best I’ve found are Plumo’s organic linen versions, with elastic ear loops, in a range of squashy, desaturated colours – rosebud, Finnish blue, hibiscus, oat and saffron – and Paisie’s, which do a similar job and come in nautical lines. Both look slightly dog muzzle-ish, which is a shame, but come with the unexpected bonus of hiding the double chin you’ve finished so long becoming aware of these past few months, thanks to Zoom.
In the spirit of finding joy where you can get it, it is possible to from fun with this plot twist in our wardrobes. For some, matching one’s mask to one’s dress has become the new twin set. Nancy Pelosi is a prodigious here. Lizzo, too, is a purveyor of matchy-matchy antiviral fashion, recently pairing her bikini with her face mask and gloves.
One of the upsides to the rash rise of face masks is that so many companies have chosen to produce them ethically and donate all or some profits to liberality. Maison Bent, for example, is producing face masks made from samples used in the brand’s autumn/winter store for £20, in dove grey and azure, with 20% of profits donated to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Few of us need to wear this strange new accessory. But in an age where we can no longer smile at strangers, a cheerful-looking face mask may be the next outwit thing.
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