Ailin Quinlan: I must face facts: I need to get with it and upstyle my masks

Ailin Quinlan admits being out of touch mask-wise - our latest accessory
Ailin Quinlan: I must face facts: I need to get with it and upstyle my masks

MASK STYLE: Fashion designer Asta Jakubson, from Co, Meath, who is creating bespoke sustainable face masks for brides-to-be.

THINGS are bad when the high point of your week is getting a couple of new masks.

I was down to two washed-out red Santa ones, a white-and-blue snow-and-reindeer version, another one covered in faded silvery stars, and two truly awful botch jobs that I paid a small fortune for at the start of the pandemic, which never fitted properly and slid down my nose and up over my chin anytime I wore them.

It seems I’d been out of touch, mask-wise, for a bit because here we were, heading rapidly into what promises to be a decent summer and a fairly significant relaxation of restrictions, and I was still going around wearing Christmas on my schnozzle.

The worst of it is, I hardly noticed. Or, if I’m to be honest, hardly cared. I had slid into a mask-slump.

Just over a year ago, it would have been unimaginable to think I’d be going around with festive decorations on my face while spring slid into summer. Certainly, everything has seemed a bit dreary lately and I was feeling pretty hollow about life in general.

Then, one day, I did think about it and with a shudder of combined horror and humiliation, realised just what it was I’d been wearing on my face for the last four months.

Yes, one sunny day you glance in the mirror, and realize that this is you going around wearing fading pictures of reindeer on your kisser. Really? Seriously? Me?

The next thing to sink in is that nobody has mentioned this to you. Maybe they’re all in the same state of gloom, and don’t notice you any more than you noticed them. You hope.

Alternatively, they have noticed but they’re just too tactful to say anything. Once you start looking, you notice that quite a number of people seem to be going around sporting fresh, lively, elegant masks in dual forest tones, or sweet pretty masks covered in little pink hearts or flowers or spring buds, or plain masks in ultra-elegant Georgian-era colours. In other words other people have not forgotten stylish. Other people are getting on with life and keeping up appearances.

In your defence, it’s become so much the norm to wear masks in shops or on public transport or even on the street that it’s easy not to think about them. I’ve seen motorists driving along, fully masked, with nobody else in the car. You hardly see masks anymore.

But some people clearly do.

Who would think, I pondered with some irritation, that face-masks would evolve to the point where they’re viewed as something that actually has its own seasonal style or, worse, God forbid, as mandatory high-fashion accessories?

I checked things out. The situation was worse than anticipated. Someone in New York has been re-jigging old designer dust bags from companies like Prada to make posh face-masks, and charging a small fortune for them.

Someone else high up in the international fashion world has been making face masks out of silk with special pins.

Vogue even shared a pattern for making and tie-dying your own mask at home.

God, I thought tiredly, would yiz just give it a break. It’s too much.

Here I was going around with Christmas stars over my gob while international influencers were promoting patterned strips of cloth as the latest form of self-expression or It accessory.

There are dual-colour linen masks. There are designer masks. There are sustainable ones. There are even designer / sustainable / resusable/ handmade / 100% cotton ones.

There are masks from Orla Kiely. There are masks made from stylish cotton print interior fabrics...

You can’t leave home without one these days, so the thinking seems to be that you might as well invest considerable thought and money in an expensive silk one, or a mask which allows for 10% of sales profits to be donated to a charity or some kind of dual-tone posh linen travel mask. (But, I thought helplessly, why buy a travel mask when you can’t travel.)

Well I wasn’t going to, I thought crossly.

But, shamed at my lack of mask-style, I did ask around. Eventually a helpful acquaintance offered to pick me up a few at the petrol station she passes on the way home, where, she explained through her own mask, somebody handy with her hands (and someone who should, clearly be working for Prada or Gucci) is making really attractive, comfortable fabric masks for €4 each.

So now I have two new different pink heart-and-flower-patterned ones and another one with a tiger stripe. More are on the way, I’m told.

I feel a bit cheerier. More in touch with the world, if that isn’t too utterly pathetic. I’m back on track. To something. Not sure to where, exactly, but best to keep checking the mirror.

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