The Fashion of the Mask

If you get on the internet, you probably see something saying WEAR A MASK every single day. It’s impossible to miss. And really, it’s impossible to argue. Right now, during a pandemic that has been allowed to careen out of control in the U.S, the mask is practically all we have left to cling to.

It is for me, definitely.

I’d be having an anxiety attack every time I ran an errand if I couldn’t cover my nose and mouth, and I dread to think of the predicament my husband would be in (since he’s a pharmacist). But as little protection as a single scrap of cloth might feel like, it’s been proven to be very effective, and I really can’t urge you enough to wear one. It’s the responsible thing to do.

But as important as the health and safety benefits are, you don’t need to look at wearing a mask like it’s some annoying bit of clinical equipment. When it comes right down to it, a face mask is nothing more another piece of fabric, another accessory to wear, which means you can enjoy it as such.

Burberry

Designer brands jumped on the mask train early on, even before things had escalated so badly. Lovely, high-end masks were being included in runway shows, being worn by celebrities, and generally becoming their own fashion mainstay overnight.

And that’s all well and good if you feel like dropping $250 on a face mask.

But don’t do that.

Frivolity and excess aren’t exactly in good taste right now. And besides, if you go too far down the rabbit hole of designer fashion, you could end up wearing something like this…

Schiaparelli

I don’t mean to knock down someone’s art, of course. It’s beautiful in its own way. It makes for a really extraordinary showpiece. But not even Lady Gaga could wear a mask like that in a practical sense.

This season’s dankest meme

Now if you really wanna talk optimal in terms of practicality, look no further than a full set of plague doctor regalia. Functioning ideally as both Halloween costume and typical daywear, this ensemble is a win-win, as you can easily see.

This was my generation’s favorite joke for about five minutes over the summer, but I’d wear it; I’m not kidding. I think things would be incredibly interesting if we were all walking around like that.

I can dare to dream.

But sticking with realism, you can buy a good mask on Etsy for less than five bucks. They’re machine washable, and there are no limits to color, design, or style.

The simple ones are my favorite. They’re kind of like the Little Black Dress of face masks, especially if you get a black one. Elegance is simplicity; that’s one of the cardinal rules of fashion.

Another rule? Black goes with everything.

I’ve also seen people wearing these faux bandana masks, which are definitely more of a statement piece. They’re not nearly as common, and that in itself can be appealing. People like to be different, to stand out from the crowd.

And I’ve noticed that these can be very convenient to wear if you happen to have a beard.

As long as it covers your nose and mouth, you can wear any style you fancy.

And Halloween is coming, don’t forget. It’s Spooky Season (which makes me so happy). Any cutesy or creepy mask that helps you get into the spirit is a great idea. I love this black cat design–very simple, but extremely on trend.

Also, as a little disclaimer: If you buy a Black Lives Matter mask, or any BLM related merch (and obviously you should), just make sure that you are buying from Black-owned business. Or at least from a fundraiser that’s giving money directly to the cause. Otherwise, your sentiment will sadly make zero difference.

Now, we all know there are people who, for various reasons, do not want to wear any masks at all, and it’s only fair to address that.

Although there are plenty of self-centered assholes who would be glad of any excuse to throw a tantrum, there are also plenty of people who are legitimately concerned that a mask could have a negative affect on them. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around, so let me put your mind at ease.

If wearing a mask makes you feel like you could be having trouble breathing, what you are actually experiencing is anxiety. And anxiety can have quite an array of unfortunate symptoms. This year has been a bad year for most of us; tensions are very high, and we naturally want to reject anything that makes us feel nervous. Even the little things. If you start to feel panicky when you’ve got your mask on, stop what you’re doing and take several long, deep breaths through your nose. You will be able to do this. The mask does not in any way limit the amount of oxygen that gets through to you.

I want you to remember, people have been wearing masks long before the pandemic. Cosplayers, for example, spend hours in them just for the fun of it.

Healthcare professionals wear them for hours every single day, not to mention every worker in every service industry right now. Everyone we depend on to provide us with what we need in our day-to-day lives has been putting on their mask every morning for the past seven months and doing their jobs. People with asthma wear them; people with mental health issues wear them. People have even been giving birth with masks on this year. So let me assure you, from the most solemn depths of my heart, that a mask won’t do you any harm.

But it really could save your life.

If you start to feel uneasy, just keep this in mind: if the members of Slipknot can perform on stage in their masks and still be okay, then you have absolutely nothing to fear.

Fashion as a whole is incredibly fluid and adaptable. We humans can make ourselves look stylish no matter what circumstances we’re dealing with.

And we’ve done this before. The above photo is from the Spanish Flu epidemic a hundred years ago. Covid-19 is our Spanish Flu, and wearing masks is how we are making the best of a bad situation.

Giving an example of my own mask fashion, I was really pleased with my ensemble the other day. I wore my pale pink t-shirt, and I happen to have this pair of shoes in the same color, which is very lucky. And combined with that mask, which is sort of a light red, it all complimented perfectly. I felt so nicely put together.

But I admit, my favorite of them all is the classic black. Black just goes with everything.

Stay safe, and have a beautiful week.

(Please take a few extra seconds to click this link. It will take you to a reference page where you can find several different resources for helping the Black Lives Matter movement. Also, make sure you are registered to vote. This site makes it very easy, and it’s well past time to vote out the officials who don’t have our best interests at heart.)

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