More than face covers, some masks make fashion statements


Freshman Haile Palmer shows her creativity through hand-making cloth masks for her friends and family. Palmer’s hobby is part of a larger trend of masks becoming a means of self-expression for students. Pictured are a few of her homemade face coverings, each personalized to offer a unique opportunity to accessorize. Photo by Wesley Smith

Masks are becoming the new fashion statement and students like sophomore Haile Palmer are tailoring them to match her style.

As students make an effort to adjust to social distancing and mandatory masks, many have started personalizing those masks.

Palmer makes masks to match her outfits, as well as for her parents, sisters and friends. Using cotton and fleece fabric to make the actual mask, she uses a pipe cleaner for the bridge of the nose and headbands for the straps.

“Making a mask usually takes me about five to 10 minutes,” she said.  “I can usually at most make 15 masks before I stop for the day.”

Aside from using cotton and fleece fabric for making her masks, she’ll use dust-bags, old purses and sequined fabrics to give her masks a little flair.

“My mother was the one who showed me how to make masks, she makes them for the rest of our family,” Palmer said. “She’ll even use old Prada handbags.”

Does a mask really affect your outfit?

“Oh absolutely, they are just as noticeable as the rest of your outfit and could ruin your outfit if it doesn’t match,” Palmer said.

Sophomore Cathleen Barthel agrees.

“Yes, it can throw your whole outfit off if it doesn’t match,” she said. “I have over a dozen reusable masks that I color-code for my outfits.”

Barthel matches her mask color to the primary color of her outfit she’s wearing before she leaves her house. She insists that it’s easy to coordinate.

“All you have to do is make sure the color scheme matches and it fits with your outfit well,” she said.

Bottom line: Some students see their masks as a fashion accessory.

“I’m not gonna wear a simple, blue disposable mask with an entirely red outfit,” said Palmer.

Barthel thinks masks make a statement.

“It just makes you look more put together if your mask matches your style,” she said. “It’s something we have to wear, [I] might as well make it cute.

Haile Palmer on the Hammond campus. Photo by Wesley Smith