THE LATEST tests with Oxford University’s vaccine look promising. Great news. But right now medical experts agree wearing masks are our best defense against Covid-19. Protective face coverings are looking like a necessary accessory in our wardrobes for a while.
Which leads me to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Every time I see her on television, I admire her chutzpah and her style—and in the past few months, her masks, color-coordinated with her clothes. With a fuchsia pantsuit, she wore a red, white and green cherry-print face mask, paired a pale-pink pantsuit with a pale-pink mask and matched a turquoise mask to her turquoise jacket.
A mask is not just a mask for Pelosi. It’s a statement of purpose and a rebuttal to a certain someone who—until yesterday—has refused to mask up. Selecting a mask every single day is “fully in line with the Speaker’s approach to image-making…. She understands that there are ways to make herself and her positions heard even when she isn’t saying anything at all,” says Vanessa Friedman in the New York Times.
Since the beginning of our pandemic times in March, designers—from Everlane and Splendid to Tory Burch, Erdem and St. John—have jumped on the face-covering bandwagon, making masks that reflect the sensibility of their line. Preppy stripes, graphic prints, abstract florals, whimsical figures, take your choice. Most if not all of these design labels sell these masks with the idea of giving back—donating all or a percentage of their profits from sales to Covid-19 research, to hospitals, to relief organizations and to causes like Black Lives Matter. Many are sustainably made, using leftover fabric.
Other than showing respect for the safety of others, we’re not dealing with the same high stakes as Pelosi. But wearing a mask does send a signal that we have a social conscience. And while we’re showing our humanity, why not exact some joy from our newest clothing accessory.
While some of the masks featured below are splurgy; others cost less than your average lipstick (you remember lipstick, right?).
LEFT: Designer Stacy Bendet of Alice + Olivia doesn’t believe in boring. Her collections brim with bright colors and whimsical prints. Nicole Wallace on MSNBC looked terrific wearing the same pattern on a blouse as on this triple-layered, jersey Protective Face Mask ($12.95, also available in six other patterns). RIGHT: Founded in 2016 by Batsheva Hay, Batsheva tweaks retro styles of dress, such as Victorian high collars and full skirts, with a modern point of view. Twenty-five percent of proceeds from this Baby Blue Floral Cotton Face Mask ($35), made of recycled fabric, go to Black Lives Matter.
LEFT: Tanya Taylor is known for her lively prints and happy hues. This Face Coverings 3 Pack ($35, Shopbop) with a cotton and silk shell and cotton lining will energize your same-old sweats or the leggings and T-shirt you’ve been wearing for what feels like forever. RIGHT: Former jewelry design director at J. Crew as well as Tory Burch, Lele Sadoughi started her own brand in 2012. In this set of 3 Lucky Charm Face Masks ($40) is a blush tie-dye with pink neon hearts, a denim chambray with silver butterflies and stars and moon charms and a leopard jersey mask that stands out from the crowd with its contrasting cobalt elastic.
ABOVE: Nicole Miller launched in 1982 and has been going strong ever since. Graphic prints, like on this all-cotton Mosaic Face Mask ($16), are her signature.
LEFT: In the ’80s and ’90s, St. John was the go-to label for women who wanted luxury knit clothing, especially jackets. This Silk and Lurex Tiger Contour Mask ($40) won’t disappoint anyone who desires quality as well as comfort. RIGHT: With a winning combination of preppy and boho, Tory Burch styles fill a niche, making them extremely popular with women all over. The designer’s Printed Face Mask, Set of 5 ($35) comes in patterns that tie back to her summer collection. Made from two layers of moisture-wicking fabric, each mask has a contoured wire at the nose for a better fit.
LEFT: Splendid fans—you know what you like: comfy, laid-back staples in soft fabrics. This 3 Pack of Face Coverings ($28, Shopbop) will appeal. RIGHT: The double elastic around the head and neck on Off-White’s Black Arrows Mask ($105) ensures comfort and stability. The label, started in 2013 by Virgil Abloh, combines luxury fabrication with a streetwear vibe.
LEFT: Playful, preppy-cool pieces, such as this Striped Face Coverings 2 Pack ($35, Shopbop) in navy and cream, are Kule’s wheelhouse. Alas, these are currently out of stock. RIGHT: Everlane prides itself on not being big on trends. The label wants you to wear its pieces for years to come. This 100 Percent Human Woven Face Mask 5 Pack ($25) is made of linen and cotton, backed with jersey.
LEFT: Sleepwear/lingerie/swimwear label Morgan Lane Sunny 3 Face Mask Set in Multi ($48) makes masks out of leftover swimwear fabric. The masks come with their own pouch for transporting to the pool. RIGHT: I’m always having trouble with getting my mask’s elastic to stay around my ears. So maybe Mother Denim’s The Don’t Spray It 2 Pack Face Mask ($20) that wraps around the head is my solution. If they’re as great-fitting as the label’s jeans, I’m in.
ABOVE: Like florals with a vintage feel? Johnny Was’s cotton sateen 5-Pack Floral Face Masks ($25, Saks Fifth Avenue), made from repurposed fabric, may be the face covering you covet.
LEFT: The fabrics on Jennifer Behr’s Dutch Wax Face Mask, Set of 2 ($52) were purchased from Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Dance Africa Festival. Each mask has a flexible nose wire so it sits where it should on your face. Behr is known for her gorgeous hair accessories and embellished cold-weather hats. RIGHT: These Michael Stars all-cotton Leopard Face Masks ($38) are molded for a more-perfect facial fit. Although best known for its style-savvy T-shirts, the brand has expanded into off-duty separates and dresses.
LEFT: Best known for playful leather handbags, Clare V. mixes French influences with functionality. This assorted four-pack of Bisous Face Masks ($35) is made from remnants and then embroidered with the label’s signature CV lips patch; it will be available early September. RIGHT: Exquisite fabrics, vibrant prints and detailed craftsmanship are Erdem’s claim to fame. Made from printed Italian cotton, designed for the Pre-Fall 2020 collection, the Face Mask Meadow Teal ($65) is crafted from leftover fabric, with two fabric-covered elastic straps and a removable filter, which fits into a pocket on the reverse.
LEFT: Abacaxi is the brainchild of South Asian-American designer Sheena Sood. The remnant fabric on this Cotton Face Mask with Filter Pocket ($30) varies in thickness. The denim and neon pink dot are the heaviest; the neon dobby dots and yellow gingham the thinnest. RIGHT: During the lockdown in NYC, Hillary Taylor used fabric remnants from past collections to make masks in her studio in Chinatown. Each of Collina Strada’s face masks, like this Fashion Face Mask With Bows ($100), is different from any other in the label because of limited fabric and variations therein. So you know there’ll be no one else on your block who has one.
ABOVE: Many of Nancy Pelosi’s masks (and some of her suits, too) come from Donna Lewis, a clothing boutique in Alexandria, Va. The Alfresco Women’s Mask ($22), made from up-cycled fabric, is sourced from Venice and Naples. Hand-sewn by in-house tailors, the masks come in dozens of colors and patterns.