Mask It Up In Style

Masks, but make it Fashion. We might as well treat masks as accessories and have some fun with them. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

So I get it, no one likes wearing masks. But as long as (for many of us) they may be required for the foreseeable future, why not have some fun with them?

Masks as accessories…

You can treat cloth masks the same as you would scarves, and use them to add color and pattern to an outfit.

I’ve been trying out a few different styles of cloth face masks, and thought I’d share my favorites so far.

Above, I’m wearing one of the pleated masks from Mixed Up Clothing. This Los Angeles based company offers masks in lots of fun prints and colors, in Adult, Teen, and Kids sizes. I’m wearing the Adult size here.

What I really like about these masks (aside from the fun prints) is the metal strip at the top of the mask that you can mold to fit close to your face. It provides a snug, comfortable fit and really helps keep my glasses from fogging!

For every mask you purchase, Mixed Up Clothing will donate one to medical personnel, first responders, essential workers and/or vulnerable populations.

(And just in case you’re wondering, the mask I’m wearing above actually does fit snugly underneath my chin. Because my face is small, there’s a little extra fabric below. Top is Eileen Fisher, here.)

Johnny Was cotton sateen face masks. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Another pleated style I like are these cotton sateen masks from Johnny Was. They’re sold in packages of five, and the prints may vary.

What I like about these masks is that they’re lightweight, adjustable and very comfortable. And pretty.

Liberty London face masks in assorted fabrics. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

If you’re a fan of Liberty prints, you should really check out this Liberty London mask set. They’re made from upcycled Tana Lawn Cotton fabric, and are also lightweight and very comfortable.

Neither the Johnny Was or Liberty masks have the wire strip. To minimize fogging, I place the bottom edge my glasses over the top edge of the mask and find it really works.

And all of the pleated masks are constructed with a pouch so you can add an additional filter if you like. (I’m told regular coffee filters work.)

Lesley Evers cloth face masks, made in USA. Details and more face masks you can wear as accessories at une femme d'un certain age.

If you prefer the non-pleated style of masks, these from Lesley Evers are quite nice. They’re a bit on the more spendy side, but are beautifully made in Oakland, California. Le Monsieur really likes these.

Mask Care

No, you don’t need to wash in hot water and dry in a hot dryer. Use whatever temperature setting is appropriate for the fabric, and regular laundry detergent. I iron my pleated masks after washing, not only to keep them looking nice but also for a little extra sanitizing.

And I was encouraged by this article in the LA Times earlier this week, which seems to indicate that even non-medical cloth masks also offer some protection to the wearer as well as those around them:

Masks offer much more protection against coronavirus than many think.

Best of this week’s sales…

Athleta – Semi-Annual Sale, up to 60% off

Chico’s – Semi-annual Sale, up to 70% off.

Cole Haanextra 20% off Summer Favorites styles

Eileen Fisher – End of Season Sale, extra 30% off all sale items.

Lands’ End – Great Summer Sale, up to 60% off order with code FLAG

Madewellextra 40% off sale, code GIANT

Talbot’s50% off all T by Talbot’s styles

Stay in touch.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for unefemme.net. See my complete disclosure policy here.

37 Comments

  1. Carol W Wayne
    July 18, 2020 / 5:11 am

    I have a young friend that lives in Japan and wearing masks is quite common even before Covid as a courtesy if one has a cold….as a school librarian I would love it if this were more common here. Every year I use all my sick days being sick!!

    Another friends daughter has started this business making masks…10% of the profits go to the Denton State School…one of the few places in Texas left for adults with severe disabilities to live if they cannot be with their family..she even has Rifle patterns. https://www.etsy.com/shop/workingclassfancy
    Thank you Susan for your blog…I love all the inspiration you provide and to your critics I would use the immortal words of Rhett Butler….the dogs bark, but the caravan moves along.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      July 18, 2020 / 7:21 am

      Thank you, and yes, when we visited Hong Kong for the first time in 2014, it was explained that wearing a mask if you had a cold/cough/sniffles was considered a courtesy to others, and it was not unusual to see people in masks.

  2. Sharon
    July 18, 2020 / 5:47 am

    Thank you Susan. For me, wearing a mask is a small price to pay for getting back out in the world.
    We might as well make the best of it. The Texas heat does limit how long I can stay out with it on.
    Keep up the good work.

  3. July 18, 2020 / 6:35 am

    Nice linen masks from Fridaze, the makers of the absolutely best linen clothing out there (and now available online).

  4. Jan Whichard
    July 18, 2020 / 7:37 am

    As a surgical RN for many many years I love you all but please let’s not make masks into a normal fashion statement. They are temporary. Cloth masks have many problems although now they are a cottage industry.

    Unless they are washed at least daily, or if one is sneezing/coughing in which case they are good for one use, use a disposable mask and discard. Physicians are seeing lots of secondary infections.

    Anyway….today is my birthday so no blow back please. I love this blog because of its fashion advice….masks aren’t fashion. They aren’t cute. They are not accessories. Many cloth masks don’t even provide a droplet barrier.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      July 18, 2020 / 8:11 am

      Happy Birthday, Jan! Hope it’s a lovely one.

    • July 19, 2020 / 1:20 pm

      Happy Birthday, Jan!! Hope you had wonderful day. (And, I agree with you.)

  5. Elizabeth
    July 18, 2020 / 7:45 am

    Susan, thank you for calling attention to the wearing of masks. Here in the Portland (OR) area, most people are complying willingly with the mask mandate, a small price to pay for even a modicum of greater health safety IMO. Like you, I am collecting a variety of masks in colors and patterns and DO see them as an accessory- the new scarf if you like. Hopefully an artifact for the great grandchildren sooner rather than later, when the need for them has passed.

  6. Tracy
    July 18, 2020 / 7:47 am

    Is the pattern you are wearing still available? None of the ones currently on the website look like that one, unless it is the pink paisley pattern. Thanks.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      July 18, 2020 / 8:11 am

      Hi Tracy, I bought mine a couple of months ago, so this particular fabric may not still be available.

      • RoseAG
        July 18, 2020 / 11:59 am

        It looks like it is. I just went to see about ordering one b/c I thought they have a good product. Once you pick the adult mask then you get the choices of patterns. Their store makes it look like they only have 4 different types, the choices of patterns are buried.

      • Tracy
        July 19, 2020 / 6:30 am

        Yours looks brighter than the pink paisley they currently have. Maybe I’ll take a chance and order anyway. I like the nose wire feature. I made my own masks with fun patterns and colors. They are fine, except they obscure my vision when I look down, so it’s hard to get through a checkout or walk down a flight of stairs. I have a couple of plain masks with nose wire; the nose wire makes a difference in visibility! I’ve been wanting something more colorful with nose wire. Thanks for your reply.

  7. Leslie
    July 18, 2020 / 8:00 am

    Just an FYI for anyone considering the Liberty of London masks, they DO provide a droplet barrier, the outer layer is treated with a breathe-able water-proofing, and the inner layer has an anti-bacterial treatment. All this is supposed to be able to be washed 20 times without breaking down. My cloth masks go into a lingerie bag either after “close encounters” (talking inside with someone I don’t know, like when I picked up my mother’s sewing machine after repair) or at the end of the day. I wash them with the next load. I’d rather do that than put a lot of disposable masks into the waste stream.

    And while I don’t want to wear them forever, why not have fun with them while we need to wear them? Thank you Susan for giving the heads up for the Liberty of London masks. We were supposed to be in London this summer and they are my “souvenir” of our non-trip. I bought some the first time you mentioned them and am enjoying them.

  8. Anne
    July 18, 2020 / 8:26 am

    Thanks and so timely! I love the masks from Mixed up Clothing and just ordered one from Lesley Evers. Totally agree that they can be a good accessory. I would wear a mask regardless but if I can feel attractive while doing it, then why not?

    I work in a hospital, am exposed to COVID daily, and deeply appreciate people wearing masks. They keep us safe and keep our economy open.

    If you want to geek out on science, follow @BobWachter on Twitter (chief of medicine at UCSF) or watch UCSF grand rounds from 7/16 on the value of masking

  9. Wren
    July 18, 2020 / 8:32 am

    Hi Susan, As soon as you wrote about Mixed up Clothing, I went on-line and ordered. Service was very fast and efficient and I liked getting from a CA company. I ordered the same one you are wearing since our coloring and the colors that compliment us are similar. I also bought a La Freida pattern for the fun of it. However, now that we know that mask wearing is going to be a thing for the foreseeable future, I’ve resorted to wearing the disposable style for the most part. They are just easier since they don’t require washing.
    I place my fabric ones in a mesh bag to wash. The fabric does have a propensity to fray so this helps protect in the washer.
    (What happened to you taking some time off from blogging?!)

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      July 18, 2020 / 8:49 am

      Hi Wren, to answer your last question, I already had this post “in the hopper.” 😉

  10. Lisa B
    July 18, 2020 / 8:52 am

    I purchased some great printed masks from Anthropologie and Shop Bop. Don’t know if they’re still available but they’re great.

    • Lisa B
      July 18, 2020 / 8:56 am

      The Shop Bop masks from Tanya Taylor are really pretty and bright.

      • Nicole Kowalski
        July 18, 2020 / 11:26 pm

        The Tanya Taylor from ShopBop are my favorites! They have a bendable nose area which makes a nice fit, wash well and are very comfortable.

  11. A
    July 18, 2020 / 9:04 am

    Hi Susan,
    As a health care worker I am required to wear a mask all day long. I have new respect for my colleagues that work in surgery where this has always been their life. Anyway, a number of folks are having skin issues with the constant face covering. I am wondering if you have a connection to a dermatologist who could perhaps guest post about skin care in the age of mask wearing. My masks at work seem to rub my skin raw across the top of my cheeks. Others are have acne or bacterial infections. Personally I am wondering how to strengthen my skin as I age.
    Thank you for considering this.

  12. Karen B
    July 18, 2020 / 9:29 am

    Great post! We are wearing masks at work every day. I make my own. The first ones I made were just random cotton material lined with interfacing that I had laying around. Now I am going through my fabric stash more thoughtfully to come up with more interesting colors and patterns. I plan to travel when allowed again and I think it might be quite a while for some countries to change the requirement.

  13. Lagatta de Montréal
    July 18, 2020 / 9:41 am

    Here are some lovely masks, designed and sold by Katrin Leblond, a local designer:

    https://store.katrinleblond.com/fr I was walking past her shop, unfortunately not open yet, and recall seeing some at $10 Cdn, but that might have just been a flash sale:

    Actually, cloth “face coverings” have been proved to be almost as effective as professional ones in everyday life. I couldn’t work in a job where I’d have to wear them all day as I have bouts of bronchitis and a bit of Asthma, as my dad was a chain smoker and died from that.

    I hate wearing masks as often I feel I can’t breathe, and have to find a place where I can physically distance (I HATE the phrase “social distancing”), remove it carefully and take deep breaths, but obviously it is better than being intubated on a respirator (I’d probably die, though in general I’m in good health). But if I’m going to wear one, I don’t want to wear something as hideous as those pale-blue disposable ones.

    At least people in shops make positive comments when I’m wearing a pretty mask.

    Carol W, merci mille fois to your friend’s daughter, but it is terribly sad that a large state such as Texas has so few facilities for severely disabled adults. Health care is a human right.

  14. July 18, 2020 / 9:43 am

    Re. the issue of glasses fogging up: several friends fold a Kleenex/tissue to make about a 1″ strip, place it at the top inside your mask and against your skin> I know, a bit awkward, but it works perfectly to absorb the moisture so your glasses don’t fog up. I don’t wear glasses so cannot personally vouch for this!

  15. Lee Rosenthall
    July 18, 2020 / 10:54 am

    I was lucky and ordered a five-pack of masks from Johnny Was when they first offered them on their website and got a nice assortment of cotton AND silk ones before they decided to sell the two types separately. They are really beautiful, but I have a hard time keeping them on my ears. I just ordered one of those Lesley Evers ones to see if it works better – thanks for the recommendation! I love the handmade ones I bought from the California designer, Sherilyn (RosebudBotanicalGood) on Etsy, but they require tying behind my head and neck, which is a lot of work for a quick few minutes outside.

    Thanks so much for your post. I agree that if we must wear masks – and we MUST – then why not make them a fashion accessory, just like all the beautiful and fashionable women who wear hijabs and tichels daily? Peace and health!

  16. Francesca B.
    July 18, 2020 / 11:16 am

    Thank you Susan for the beautiful Liberty masks they remind me of my homeland and that gives me so much joy as I am currently separated from those I love. Have a gorgeous break!

  17. RoseAG
    July 18, 2020 / 11:56 am

    I have the pink kokeshi doll mask from mixed-up masks and it’s earned high marks from me.
    I have another mask I bought and now that the temperature is high I find that my face has gotten red underneath the mask. I think perhaps the lining is not 100% cotton and is abrading my cheeks.
    My mixed-up mask hasn’t had that problem, and it has a nice metal nose piece.
    That was a great recommendation.

    I

  18. Mary Ann Stowe
    July 18, 2020 / 12:12 pm

    Re: masks with out a nasal strip
    My husband has been wearing masks out of our home for medical reasons for the last 3 years. We thought we had a good supply of the “one use” surgical masks but then we had no idea Covid would come! Early on my sister in law made masks for me from various materials (she’s a quilter and has all kinds of fabric!). She made the insert pocket to put an additional filter if wanted/needed and a “nasal shaper” (at first we used pipe cleaners!). I ordered Nose Bridge Strips for Masks with an adhesive strip from Amazon. I put them inside the pocket with the adhesive side facing out so it wouldn’t hinder changing the filter. I have washed my masks every time I used them and the strips have not come loose or fallen out – yet! My glasses don’t fog and the mask has a more secure fit.

    • Nicole Kowalski
      July 18, 2020 / 11:28 pm

      I was going to mention those too! I add them to the masks I ordered from Baukjen in the UK (very nice affordable masks). Some of them have bendable nose bridges and some do not. The Bridge Strips work really well and make masks fit better and more comfortable.

  19. Patricia
    July 18, 2020 / 1:22 pm

    Tori Richard makes lovely lightweight cotton-lawn masks. It’s a Hawaii based firm that makes the most comfortable, beautiful “Hawaiian” print shirts for men. My husband has a number of their cotton-lawn shirts. They’re machine washable and durable.

    • Deborah
      July 18, 2020 / 3:16 pm

      Thank you for mentioning this! My husband has been a Tori Richards fan for ages. We’ll definitely be placing an order. I just purchased several masks from society6 (https://society6.com/s?q=masks&context=masks), who have a truly massive assortment, all by different artists. Something for everyone, I think!

  20. Rondi
    July 18, 2020 / 3:48 pm

    It is so refreshing to read that so many of Susan’s readers are wearing masks. It can certainly be a sensitive subject with some. I recently ordered two new ones from two different shops on Etsy. I ordered a plain muslin one from Primitive Fringe. The other is a very pretty chiffon print from SLByKate. I recently read an article stating that chiffon and silk are excellent for mask material. I am pleased with both masks. The muslin mask has nose bridge wire. The chiffon mask has adjustable ear loops. Thanks, Susan, for helping us to enjoy mask wearing. Some of them really are quite pretty.

  21. July 18, 2020 / 4:20 pm

    I ordered 10 of the Johnny Was when they were all silk and love them; they’re the easiest, most comfortable masks I have. I also ordered a 6-pack of the Lesley Evers because of the bright colors and patterns, and that they include a 3rd layer HEPA type fabric filter. Not only are they pricey, their “adult” size is for someone with a small head/face, which makes them very uncomfortable on me, as I have a large head. I am quite disappointed with that, but still use them for quick trips into the grocery store because I like the idea of the extra filtration. I also don’t like the idea of endlessly tossing disposables into landfill (and the ones I finally got my hands on are still backordered, so they’re not even an option right now).

  22. Chris
    July 18, 2020 / 6:49 pm

    I bought a packet of masks from Johnny Was and am very pleased. I shared them with my daughter in law who is much more boho chic than I am. She was thrilled! On another recent topic, I enjoy reading your blog just to get a sense of things I need to keep an eye out for, not always searching the exact item. Thanks to your recent post with the EF mustard sandals, I saw a similar color pair of slides at TJ Maxx. I don’t ‘need’ them, but I will have a fresh spring in my step because of you. Thanks for so much inspiration. enjoy your time off!

  23. Juti
    July 18, 2020 / 9:20 pm

    When we were sent home in March to begin teaching online, the way I dealt with the uncertainty was to start sewing masks for myself and my husband. To make a long story short, I’ve now got a nice little pile of fun prints that match outfits or make statements (my husband loves his “flame job” mask). The general consensus on homemade masks is that two layers of a good-quality cotton will do the job. No, they’re not medical grade, but if you’re prudent, keep your distance, and wash your hands, the mask will help you not be a spreader. Right now it’s all anybody can ask for.

    If anyone is interested, there is a huge community of people who are compensating for being unemployed by putting their sewing talents to work sewing masks. Look on Etsy if you’re interested in purchasing some. Others are donating them to impoverished communities, or just giving them away.

  24. Mary
    July 19, 2020 / 6:54 am

    really excellent article re science of masks:
    http://badmomgoodmom.blogspot.com/2020/06/this-is-why-we-wear-masks.html
    if you are in a high risk area (ER, urgent care, hospital) yes to disposable masks.
    One frustration for people with deafness and decreased hearing is not being able to see lips.
    I am a physician and worked with a patient re wearing a face shield with her friends while
    being somewhat socially distant so she can read lips.

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