The fashion of masks

You might only wear the common blue disposable mask, but a wide array have been created since the onset of the pandemic. Now a staple of the era, masks come in different patterns and materials, perfect for whatever your taste prefers.

A year after the first COVID-19 case appeared in the United States, masks have emerged as a symbol of the pandemic. What started as a necessity birthed a brand new fashion trend everyone could get in on.

Masks are not going anywhere. In fact, they are mandated here in Pennsylvania and it seems as if that order won’t be lifted for the foreseeable future. While the traditional blue disposable mask is still a go-to for many, the fashion of masks has exploded with different styles, fabrics, patterns, and designs. The production of fashionable face coverings presented an opportunity for individuals, young designers, and well established brands. Even celebrities and influencers got in on the mask trend.

Having become an extension of an individual’s own personal style and creativity, masks reflect one’s personality and outlook on life. Whether it’s the fabric, design, or the way it’s worn, masks provide the opportunity to make a fashion statement. When looking to express your personal style through your mask, there are three main types of face coverings from which one can choose: bandanas, gaiters, and standard masks. Not to worry, there are an endless amount of options to help you express your personal style.

For athletes, familiar brands like Under Armour, Reebok, and Athleta make lightweight, absorbent masks using stretchy performance fabrics like polyester, spandex, and mesh. It makes for a breathable and comfortable workout, something that is much more difficult when wearing a cloth covering. Some athletic masks even come in different sizes to fit the athlete’s face. You’ll find your favorite NBA players wearing the Co. Protect Premium three-Layer Face Mask. These masks are three ply fabric, so they are breathable, sweat-free, and comfortable.

If sports aren’t your thing but style is more your speed, there are a ton of mask options for the fashionistas out there. Masks come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, including; animal prints, tie-dye, and camo. Masks can also help tie current looks together. For example, adding a matching mask to a monochromatic outfit is the perfect way to complete the look. Not to mention, almost every brand — from designers on Etsy to luxury fashion brands like Fendi — now produces masks.

Even those not looking to make a bold statement with their face covering have options! The brand SKIMS, owned by Kim Kardashian, sells masks matching every skin tone. The masks shape the face and are meant to “disappear.” Nolan Shanley ’23, believes “SKIMS masks look simple, yet are still fashionable, and provide protection and breathability.” There are even companies like Etsy and Amazon that will personalize masks with your face, leaving the wearer looking maskless. If you’re concerned about the environment, there are even eco-friendly masks made of sustainable materials using ethical manufacturing practices. These masks are made out  of organic and recyclable materials. Finally, there are even masks that represent your interests and activities. These include your favorite brands, apps, celebrities, influencers, colleges, sports teams, foods, etc. Many even chose to express their social and political opinions through their masks. Throughout 2020, we saw masks supporting Black Lives Matter, the presidential candidate of your choice, the LGBTQ+ community, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Whatever causes you support, it’s likely there’s a face covering to match. Whether you are an athlete, fashionista, conservationist, or just want to express yourself, there is definitely a mask that reflects your personality and fashion sense.

While it is likely we will all be wearing masks for the foreseeable future, with shots becoming more available and going into more and more people’s arms every day, there is hope we’ll soon be able to remove these coverings and return to seeing everyone’s face. Until that normalcy returns, you can try to make the best situation out of these coverings.