The beauty behind the mask

Students react to the rise in fashionable masks and its impact on their style


Amber Milesi, Staff Writer

Junior Bhavya Kadiyala bought a few outfits for the fall season. Yet the most noticeable addition to her outfit was the patterned silk mask tucked under her arm as she browsed the aisle of face coverings. She would have found the mask very out of place in her wardrobe if it hadn’t been for the prevalent rise in the so-called “fashion masks” that dominate her current fashion. From going outside on a quick walk to checking social media, the evolution of mask culture for Kadiyala served as an outlet for her own creativity.

“I’ve heard of people wearing masks that match with their formal wear among a lot of other unique examples,” Kadiyala said. “I think these masks look really interesting because they come in flashy colors and are glittery or sequined. But because of my own taste, it’s a little over the top for me. I [have] started buying masks of different colors and with designs, and I like to match my masks with clothes of a similar color or design because it ends up looking simple but trendy.”

Infographic by Amber Milesi // images courtesy of Vogue

For Kadiyala, fashion is important in her daily life that was put on hold due to the severity of the pandemic, but she found a way to express her creativity through wearing masks. From silk and cotton masks, she has seen and tried an abundance of face covering styles.

“I think that there’s a trend in masks being made in different sizes and designs in an attempt to accommodate fashion and encourage more people to wear them,” Kadiyala said. “I think [it] is very beneficial because people have less reason to complain or avoid wearing [a mask] when there’s something to gain from it. Personally, I like to buy oversized masks because the tighter ones always mess up my makeup so this way I don’t have to reapply or worry about the state of my makeup.”

However, junior Jasmine Grewal says thinking about masks as a fashion trend is more dangerous than fun. She believes the so-called “fashion masks” are made from weak materials like thin mesh and are more for decoration than safety.

“[Wearing] masks [that] are under the nose, too loose on your face or none at all don’t fly,” Grewal said. “Neither do ‘fashion masks,’ which are less for keeping your chances of the virus low and more for looking pretty in a time where that shouldn’t be prioritized over health. Sitting through a day with an actual mask on is [a] small price to pay for safety.”

junior Jasmine Grewal poses in her preferred surgical mask before leaving the house // Used with permission of Jasmine Grewal

According to a CDC survey of 503 adults taken in April, 62% believed in the benefits of wearing masks, and that number jumped to 76% in May as the severity of the virus became more apparent. Since one of her family members contracted COVID-19, Kadiyala says she knows first-hand why it is so necessary to be proactive in wearing masks.

“I don’t plan on getting sick or risking the health of anyone around me,” Kadiyala said. “It was scary having my family be affected once, so I’m really cautious about staying safe.”

Sophomore Kashish Agarwal is neutral on fashionable masks versus surgical masks. Her favorite trends center around comfort to complement her sense of style best.

“When it comes down to using masks for fashion, I don’t see the problem,” Agarwal said. “Nor does it matter if the masks are just regular ones. I have heard of masks being made out of all kinds of decorations, like a mask with a clear covering so your makeup is still visible. I personally prefer [that] my mask is plain with a toned down color because most of my clothes are plain colors anyways. However, I always wanted to try a woven mask with floral patterns [because] it looks pretty and comfortable.”

Kadiyala admits that although wearing the colorful masks tends to her creative side, she still has to prioritize protecting herself from the virus in consideration of everyone around her.

It’s something I have to wait for but definitely something I look forward to because, after all, who doesn’t like to be seen smiling?

— junior Jasmine Grewal said

“A lot of people have complained that wearing masks is very inconvenient, but I think it’s a … petty complaint compared to the risk of getting infected,” Kadiyala said. “I think that wearing masks is a good thing that will help protect us … from the virus.”

Grewal says that although her stance against the fashion masks is clear, she still looks forward to a mask-free future.

“To be honest, I can’t wait for a time when I don’t have to wear masks and interactions outside become more enjoyable and something I can look forward to rather than avoid,” Grewal said. “It’s something I have to wait for but definitely something I look forward to because, after all, who doesn’t like to be seen smiling?”