Ah shit, here we go again. Back to the masks, baby—which, for the record, we’re (begrudgingly) happy to don, especially since cases of the Delta variant are up in some states, and we’re responsible citizens who care about our fellow humans. But, we admit, mask life isn’t quite the same as the Before Times, and we were still seriously looking forward to a maskless fall full of subway pole-licking and sharing joints outside the bar, someday. Alas, such is life.
We’re not throwing in the towel, though—after all, we’re gonna need it to soak up all of our tears of joy once COVID-19 has finally been successfully curbstomped. And just because we’re going to have to keep masking up for the foreseeable future doesn’t mean we’re saying “fuck it” and wearing schlubby, low-effort outfits all fall. Masks can (and should) be sick, tight (to your face), and bold statement pieces that scream “I’m fashionable, and also not an Alex Jones fan.” In this category, we shine. Plus, all of our old masks from last year—and we’re not talking about surgical/disposable masks, which you shouldn’t be reusing, Brad—are old, out of style, and covered in a light smear of cigarette tar, makeup, and pimple blood.
This isn’t a guide on how to wear masks, or an explainer on why you should be covering your mouth and nose during a global pandemic—we’ve been around the COVID block, and we (hopefully) already know how this works. We’re just here to give you some non-fugly options for your fall ‘fits, from our favorite disposable masks to the best KN95 masks that will perfectly match your spooky, Halloween home decor and your blood-curdling pumpkin spice latte life.
The Best KN95 Masks
Ol’ reliable is hella on sale
You’ve heard the name, you know the face: The KN95s are back, and they’re ready to die harder with a vengeance. This 10-pack of KN95s (you know, the ones that block 95 percent of particles, hence the name) are more than 50 percent off, and are pretty much the gold standard when it comes to masks.
You’re going for “fun construction worker”
Well, let us be the first to tell you—you’re nailing it. The only piece your ensemble is missing? A colorful KN95 mask to let everybody know you’re the main character foreman.
Where is your mask?
We literally can’t see it. Depending on the color, these camo masks can take you from Swamp Loggers to Sporty Spice in a minute, and, lord, do we love a face with range.
To match all of the other black articles of clothing you own
It’s a look, we know. But there’s something about a black KN95 that ties together every fit, especially if you have to pull up to a meeting or function looking like you are not dying inside. These are the masks of someone who does their taxes on time, eats ass like a pro, and knows how to install a bidet. Can’t explain it, but we trust you.
The ones that look like they could be sold at Sephora
Personally, we think “MASKC” has one-too-many consonants for its millennial branding, but we’ll let it slide, especially since the KN95s the company slings are pretty sweet. They come in a range of earthy matte colors that, frankly, we haven’t seen since we left the Earthship in Taos.
Are these face Yeezys?
Damn. This is like streetwear for your mouth. The fact that there are coordinates on it also makes us feel like we’re oh so in-the-know of where all the cool shit is going down.
The Canadian tuxedo
The 2000s are back, which means it’s time for denim on denim on denim. Whether you’re hopping in your Jeep wrangler to blow kisses to the pronghorns in Montana, or just a hot little Y2K kid on the scene, this is the mask for you.
The Best Disposable Masks
Because Rainforest Cafe slaps
Why settle for one animal print mask, when you can be the whole herd? Catch us in six-inch heels with the giraffe print for, you know, consistency, and the cheetah print as an after-dark look, because this [winks in Fauci] is our life now I guess?
Blue jean baby
All roads really do lead back to denim. This blue jean-inspired mask comes in a lighter wash than its KN95 cousin, which is cute.
Because trash sucks
If you’re grossed out by the waste being produced by all of the disposable masks on sidewalks and in trash cans around the world, check out H_llo Friend’s new 99% biodegradable Bio Mask. It has a highly *aesthetic* origami design with an adjustable fit, is KN95-rated, and comes in five-packs with wild color options; that limited-edition gradient pack, wowee!
The sleekest disposie
Yet again, Evolve has taken something as potentially blasé as a disposable face mask, and made it into something we want. It’s trying to look cool, and it’s working (because it’s not trying too hard).
The Best Washable, Reusable Masks
If you like matching all your ‘fits
Vida’s super-comfortable cotton masks have adjustable straps, so your ears won’t be grouchy, and that little wire nose piece we love so that your glasses don’t fog up. But best of all, they come as singles, pairs, or in a five-pack with a range of colors to match every mood/vintage band shirt, and come with a removable filter that catches 99 percent of airborne particles, so you can pop it out to take a walk, and back in if you’re gonna be in a crowded movie theater or whatever.
If you have a big head and no masks seem to fit right
There’s a lot to like about H_llo Friend‘s masks—including the wide array of color combos, five-layer FilterTech® liner, and breathable, recycled shell with an antimicrobial finish. But perhaps best of all, the brand’s masks have convertible straps that can be worn over your ears or behind your head, and come in actual sizes from S to XL, so those of us with giant noggins can customize accordingly.
This Japanese mask with anti-glasses-fogging technology
The Osaka-based brand Master-Piece has been making specialized bags and carry-alls since the 90s out of high quality, durable materials, and their mask packs the same level of sturdy, stylish goodness; it has a nylon neck strap, clear carrying case, and a little pad on the nose to keep your glasses from fogging up.
What else are you gonna wear with a smoking jacket?
Grab your Missouri Meerschaums, people, and smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. These washable, velvet masks by Caraa are giving off serious 70s lounge vibes, and would fit in perfectly with the brandy-near-the-fire aesthetic you’ve been cultivating.
You’re cosplaying as a train conductor
And you’re doing great, sweetie. This stripy, fitted mask from the purveyors of classic bags and backpacks features three breathable layers, a soft liner, and a center sleeve that fits a standard air filter.
Silk is good for your pores
That’s what the kids say these days, at least. We asked the fabric aficianado founder of Buffy about the various benefits and drawbacks of linen, silk, and everything in between, and it turns out that silk can keep your skin more hydrated than cotton, because it absorbs less water (hence, why we go for linen sheets for summer). Fabric don’t lie, baby.
Endless possibilities, but please print the entirety of the iconic Dramatic Reading of a Breakup Letter text. If you’re an extrovert who misses seeing other people’s facial expressions, this customizable (and washable) face mask can help scratch that itch to mingle with randos.
The next step? Getting rid of our summertime maskne.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.
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