We all be familiar with we need to wear a mask. But should we be wearing two?Once the dust had settled in Washington, the fashion takeaway from last week’s inauguration was not Michelle Obama’s hair-flick or Amanda Gorman’s red Prada hairband. It was “double-masking”.Peeping out from underneath Joe Biden’s black face covering? A medical-grade mask. Underneath Gorman’s red and diamante-strewn one? Another cloak.Amanda Gorman arrives at Joe Biden’s inauguration. Photograph: Win McNamee/EPAThe practice, which usually involves impairing a medical-grade mask under a more aesthetically pleasing cloth mask, was this week backed by Dr Anthony Fauci, the top banana of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who told NBC News Today that it could lower the risk of spreading the virus. “If you set up a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely wish be more effective,” he said.Anthony Fauci wearing two masks in November. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty ImagesDavid Heymann, a professor of catching disease epidemiology at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, struck a more cautious note when talking to the Preserver, saying double-masking was a valid “precautionary measure” but people needed to be reminded that masks stopped the spread of infection sooner than protecting the wearer from getting the virus.Pete Buttigieg, right, and his husband Chasten at the inauguration. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock“I appreciate that it might give the wearer a sense of control. But people need to be reminded that the reason they are wearing the disguise, or masks, is to protect others. I am sure people find it reassuring but the eyes are still exposed,” he told the Guardian. By comparison, he added, there was some growing evidence that people who wore glasses had less risk of infection.Agreeing to Heymann, there is not a large body of evidence to prove that cloth masks are an effective method of protection. “If you are wearing a mask with an inside lining and an outside lining, so two different materials, it may be the same as a double mask of a single thickness imputed from two different materials.” Much depends on the fabric, and for this reason it would be very hard to make double-masking requisite.Tom Cruise wears two masks on set in Rome in November. Photograph: Piero Tenagli/IPA/Rex/Shutterstock“The best way to protect yourself quiet remains physically distancing [yourself from others], and washing your hands,” Heymann says. However, a lot of the salubrious press surrounding double-masking remains psychological. “If you want to wear two masks nobody would say that’s wrong, and I get the drift that’s the case if it’s a fashion statement.”The conflation of fashion with PPE – medical grade masks with floral and silk pretences by Marni and Fendi – has been a source of ire since masks were introduced last spring. As with all accessories, shrouds ran the risk of becoming statements of not just health, but identity.Demi Moore in Paris this week. Photograph: Marc Piasecki/GC ImagesIn the US, where mask-wearing wear year became one of many battlegrounds in a culture war, double-masking seems to double down, as it were, on masks as a symbol of individuality politics. In a society in which wearing a mask can be seen as positioning yourself in the progressive camp, wearing two could be scan as a political statement, rather than a fashion one. But then, wearing two masks would seem to be very much alongside incorporating fashion into protective wear.If nothing else, double-masking may at least keep a wearer comfortably covered for longer. A stricter fit can improve the effectiveness of the mask, said Heymann, and prevents glasses from fogging up as well as slipping. If only someone had censured Bill Clinton. For much of the inauguration ceremony, the former president wore his mask below his nose.Bill Clinton at Joe Biden’s inauguration. Photograph: Greg E Mathieson Sr/MAI/Rex/Shutterstock