Mask Fashion

Mask Fashion

Claire Elliott, Writer

If you’re going to be breathing hot air into your own face for at least seven hours a day, you might as well look sharp while doing it. 

From floral patterns to political agendas, self-expression continues to find its way into the realm of masks. Originally a solemn and depersonalizing situation, people are able to return intimacy to the era of COVID-19 through these seemingly small measures. 

And, as new ways to express oneself arise, art is never far behind. 

Coined as “statement masks,” these face-coverings are intricately adorned with chains, glitter, and anything that can be sewn in or hot glued. I was curious of my own abilities in creating such masks and put myself to the test. 

With the necessary help of Pinterest, I attempted to embroider a basic grey mask. To infuse life into a time where sickness seems imminent, I chose a vine and floral pattern. 

The first, and perhaps most important step, was to plan. Nevertheless, I skipped this step. As a result, my stitching did indeed take longer than expected, as I often found myself unravelling the string to start again. 

However, the efforts of my meticulous labor and backtracking prevailed. Taking around 4 hours, the embroidering has left me feeling as if I have ascended into grandma-hood with my unbounded knowledge. 

This knowledge, I will graciously give to my dear readers. 

With the dullest needle I could find (for the safety of my fingertips), I began with the vines. As previously mentioned, I did not look up any stitch, but merely started to weave my needle in and out of the cloth. Although this “fluid” method did not result in any drastic mistakes, it did increase the amount of time I spent sewing. 

To add dimension to the vines, I added a lighter color of green under the original shamrock color. 

After learning from my first mistake, I delved into the digital world of Pinterest. Finding multiple tutorials for a chain stitch, I created a golden border around my mask. 

The stitch appeared to be immensely complicated at first, but soon became second nature. Again, I added a brighter color of yellow below the ochre I used before. 

For my final step, I decorated the mask with flowers. 

I sewed the purple flower in a similar manner to the vines. A vital part of its completion was the shades. Without the different colors, the flower would have no depth, and, in turn, lose all of its realism. 

Next, I used a french knot technique to create the hydrangea-esqe flowers in the bottom right. To complete this method, one must simply wrap the thread around the needle a number of times and then pull the needle through the bottom. 

Although the mask required diligent work, the outcome is beyond worth the efforts. 

Sidney Phongkhammeung (11), too, has homemade masks. Her mother, the creator, pursued fashion in high school by learning how to sew, as she could not always afford name-brand items. 

“She just uses supplies at home to create her masks. It’s better to wash those and reuse them rather than throwing them away constantly,” Phongkhammeung said. 

And sure enough, reusing the masks reserves a significant amount of waste. Phongkhammeung also points out the social advantages of statement masks.

“Kids like to keep things fashionable, so I feel that if kids have cooler, more fashionable looking masks, it’ll make kids more enthusiastic to wear them,” Phongkhammeung said. 

In highschool, teenagers often struggle with their identity. Stripping away the individuality of one’s face does not help with inner uncertainties. 

Statement masks, on the other hand, allow us to reclaim distinctiveness and convey our characters in new ways. 

Even without decorative masks, many have still found ways to express themselves during COVID-19. 

“(Expressing myself) helps with wanting to go to school,” Kylie Hernandez (12) said. 

Kylie wears a multitude of vivid colors and exciting outfits and is highly skilled with make-up. 

“Music definitely plays a role in (inspiring me),” Hernandez said. 

Experimenting with new styles and colors, she can still express herself during COVID-19.

“It’s so fun to look… like a movie character,” Hernandez said. 

Especially in this bleak moment in the world, romanticizing our lives can bring in elements of joy and excitement necessary for existence. Whether it is buying or even creating a statement mask to experimenting with make-up and traditional fashion, self-expression is essential now more than ever.