They’re blue, green, or beige, patterned or sequined. You find them in grocery stores, dentist offices, and walking along the street. They save lives while also making a fashion statement.

Love them or hate them, masks are a fundamental part of our daily lives. So, why not have a little fun with them?

We chatted with Tess Morgan, a Humber Fashion Arts and Business (FAB) alum, to get the low-down on masks. From their introduction at the beginning of the pandemic to summer trends to look out for, Morgan offers her fashion-forward expertise to help us mask up in style.

Flashback to one year ago…

Tess Morgan wearing a black silk mask against a grey background.
Image provided by Tess Morgan

Working in England at the time, Morgan explained how differently we wore masks after they became mandatory.

“I think the big shift was when they [masks] were made a requirement. People were like, ‘okay, I can’t even get toilet paper much less this very elite symbol of status—surgical masks.’ So, people got creative making them out of scrap patterns and t-shirts at home.”

“In the beginning, you saw a lot of individuality expressed through masks with a more so campy aesthetic rather than the orchestrated aesthetic you’re seeing these days.”

Masks as visual storytellers

Fashion has a unique way of capturing moments in history—2020 was a prime example of this.

“With the pandemic, we’ve seen a reluctance to continue the same styles that were being worn before. If you’re wearing a super classy outfit down the street, is that insensitive to the overall mood?” expresses Morgan.

“However, with masks, you have the opportunity to show personality. With all the important movements that have been going on, i.e. Black Lives Matter, we’re seeing those reflected in masks as well.”

Tangible tips for students

Brown turtleneck shirt against a white background with a black face mask, gold and black chain, and sunglasses laying on top of it.
Image provided by Tess Morgan

First and foremost, Morgan stresses supporting local.

“Support your local designers, support your local brands. Nothing feels as good as representing a company that you believe in whose ethics match with yours.”

When it comes to picking out a mask to rock to the grocery store or strut around campus with, Morgan says “play it up!”

“You are given the opportunity to have a level of anonymity, so show the most personality as you can. If you’re wearing a more neutral colour palette, add in a pop of colour. Especially if you’re wearing homemade masks, don’t be afraid to mix patterns. [Lastly], you want to be comfortable at the end of the day; invest in the right materials.”

But most importantly, Morgan emphasizes cleanliness, “Masks are like underwear, you should be changing them every day.”

Summer trends to watch for

Six masks laying flat on a yellow background.
Masks by MVFA Design House
Photo provided by Tess morgan 

“There are so many micro-trends being born out of social media,” says Morgan. “It’s hard to pinpoint which trends are going to be specific to Canada.”

“We’re definitely seeing a lot of reference to the Y2K era. We’re also seeing a pull towards comfort-minimalism—soft materials, emphasis on coziness. We also see 70s retro-vibes coming through. This includes fun patterns [and] muted tones.”

Lastly, Morgan says, “with all fashion in times of crisis, usually when things start to go back to normal—whatever that maybe—you’ll see a bigger influence on loud, bold, [and] showstopping trends; less about the muted tones and more about showing off, having fun, uplifting spirits, bright colours, and pastels to reflect the mood of the times.”

So, whether you’re wearing blue, green, or beige, patterns or sequins, remember to use your mask to show your personality! It’s taking up precious face real estate, use it to your advantage and work it – all while staying safe.

*This interview has been edited for concision and clarity.*

Masked up and ready for summer? Here’s how to enjoy your fave summer traditions while staying COVID-safe.

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