Could it be that we’re starting to see a bit more normalcy in our lives again after nearly a year of being shut off from the world? The number of people eligible to receive the COVID vaccine is increasing, restaurants are welcoming people inside their establishments at limited capacity, and the number of cases are starting to decrease after peaking in January. We may be a long way off until we consider COVID in our rearview mirrors, but it definitely feels like the worst is behind us.
This year has unfortunately given us all an opportunity to become mask savvy. Designers and brands jumped at the call to help the population and potentially save their businesses by using this year to offer us a huge variety when it comes to what we wear to cover our mouths and stop the spread of COVID. Despite being on the backend of this horrific pandemic, it doesn’t mean face masks will be a thing of the past in the near future. Dr. James Hamblin, physician and staff writer for The Atlantic predicts that we’ll be wearing masks at least until the end of the year. This article in Discover Magazine suggests that wearing face masks will never disappear entirely as a polite choice to stop the spread of seasonal illness and the fact that, unfortunately, the COVID pandemic won’t just end in one large celebratory event. It could just be that wearing a face mask will become part of a healthy lifestyle.
For now, the face mask is our reality and, like it or not, part of our daily lives, even when we resume what was once considered normal, like actually going to work. I often talk about accessorizing on this blog to finish a look and prior to the pandemic I never would have considered I’d be doing a post on accessorizing your work looks with face masks. But, here we are, this is the reality we are living in. If you have plans to return to work and are looking for ways to make your mask part of your outfits, here are some looks to give you some inspiration.
LOOKS FOR WORK ACCESSORIZED WITH FACE MASKS
How long has it been since you wore a skirt? After a year of wearing casual pants, it will feel nice to actually dust one off and wear it again. I styled this navy BOSS skirt with a navy and white herringbone blazer from Veronica Beard that I layered over a simple raw edge white tank. I finished the look with navy pumps and added this floral face mask that picks up a pop of color while working with the colors of the look. Attached to the mask, and in lieu of a necklace, I added this simple mask chain. In all looks you’ll be seeing, I opted for mask chains instead of necklaces. In office environments, you may be taking your mask on and off and mask chains are a more hygienic alternative to leaving it on surfaces or handling the fabric covering when not wearing it, and ensures that when you need your mask you can more easily grab it.
Second to skirts, a dress. There may have been a time where wrangling with Spanx and questioning whether to wear stockings felt like the worst thing to deal with, but now? At this point, I think most women would welcome zipping themselves into a dress over tying the waistband of their umpteenth pair of joggers. I styled this tweedy dress from The Fold with a coral belt and grey pumps from Tory Burch and captured the colors in this leaf print mask and coral link mask chain.
What I love about where women’s suits are heading is that women are saying, “no thanks” to the boring grey, navy, and black suits. Sure, suits took a nap in 2020 and there was a belief that with the casualization of the American workplace that we’d never see suits again, yet I believe that we’ll see suits for women at work on totally different terms. Believe it or not, I hear more often than you would think women longing for a time when suits were a thing because they were just easier. And given the fact that suits today embrace creativity plus the fact that we’re longing to get dressed again, we shouldn’t count them out.
This Evergreen suit (link to blazer and pants) from Theory strikes that perfect balance of being creative and classic. Evergreen falls into colored neutral territory making it a versatile color that can be worn as a neutral while not being boring or predictable. I styled the suit with a silk blouse from Vince, beige pumps from Mark Fisher, and a mask that captures the tones of the suit plus a little pop. The mask is secured with a gold mask chain.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, while you were in lockdown, pants changed and we’re now seeing pleated pants in stores. This trend has been emerging for a while and we’re now seeing it at critical mass. I styled these pants from COS with a simple draped short sleeve top and the same beige pumps as in the last look. To maintain a soft look, I added a delicate marble print mask and the same mask chain as the previous look.
While suits are making a comeback, don’t discount the simplicity of a great work look with a statement blazer. I love this soft, feminine style by Massimo Dutti that polishes a basic look of a grey sweater by J. Crew and black tattersall ankle pants by BOSS. To the look, I added a glen plaid mask with a pink deco yarn that picks up the color of the blazer. I finished the look with the same grey Tory Burch pumps as in the first look and added this mask chain with tortoise detail.
To quote Epictetus, “It’s not what happens but how you react to it that matters.” Yes, we’re living in crazy times. Times we’ll likely and hopefully never see again in our lifetimes, but we are all learning how to deal with it. Nobody wants to be dealing with this. Nobody wants masks to become a staple in our lives, but if you have to wear one, you might as well wear one with style.