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Cover up

19 Oct 2020 By HUBERT VAZ

Are you too shy to wear a face mask that matches your business attire or be seen sporting a face mask that complements the colour of your T-shirt? The fact is, face masks are no longer a fashion statement for women alone, as men, too, have started wearing face masks to suit their calling of each day.

So, you see men wearing coloured, yet somber, face masks in boardrooms as well as fancy, printed face masks while shopping in hypermarkets. You also see men wearing an array of sporty face masks, some branded with logos of sports gear, as they go by on their morning jog or evening stroll.

These cloth face masks are found to be more skin-friendly and appealing to people than the regular medical masks, and what’s more, they are cost effective. A whole range of branded face masks, created by garment manufacturers as well as reputed houses of sport gear, are now available, either in stores or through online shopping channels like Amazon for prices ranging from US$8 to over US$50. This also indicates that face masks are here to stay and wearing them would be a welcome option even after the pandemic recedes.

Freddy Hines, a professional  at National Hospitality Institute says, “People know that masks have become the new normal, at least for now. I think, the general feeling is that of following a rule. On the contrary, the reason should be awareness and the safety of others around.” He, however, asserts that though some look on face masks as a fashion accessory, he considers them as an essential safety measure.

Asked whether institutions should introduce their own signature masks, Hines reiterated, “The main reason for wearing a mask and distancing oneself socially is to prevent the risk of contracting the virus as some people around could be asymptomatic. Branding masks may look good, as long as they prevent aerosols from travelling far enough to get someone potentially infected. The bottom line is: wear your mask, practice social distancing ethically and wash your hands regularly.”

Othman al Mandhari, CEO of Inno Tech which produces face shields in Oman, added, “Wearing face masks has become the new normal. While some people are against this, I do believe in complete freedom for men  and women to choose their face masks, as long as they follow the requirements of the Ministry of Health.”

Oman’s ace sprinter, Barakat al Harthy, who is preparing for the Olympics, that got postponedto next year, in all earnestness, however admits that he is most comfortable with cloth masks and wears a range of different sporty masks while outdoors for different errands or for meeting up with friends. He, however, admits that wearing masks is not a healthy option while exercising or running.

There are others like Abdullah al Jailani, a professional guide and adventurer (of Omani Nomads fame) who says, “I would encourage people to wear whichever type of face masks they prefer as long as they do wear them while in public or in small family gatherings. You can still see many people who don’t wear masks in public, which is scary.”

On the other hand, Majunath Pai, another long-time Indian expatriate, said he hasn’t come across men wearing matching face masks to suit their attire though a few ladies can be seen doing so.

And if you take former model Sami al Zadjali’s word for it, face masks have now become an essential fashion accessory for both, men and women. The choices vary though the function of these masks remain the same, he says, adding, “I choose my masks carefully. It should have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric. Also, the size is very important, it should well cover the mouth and nose.”

Tips for wearing face masks

Formal attire

Colours like grey, black, navy blue, go well with business suits/blazers while toned down shades of black, brown, blue, maroon also go well with buttoned down office shirts. You may also suitably match the colour/print of your neck-tie or cap/hat with your face mask.

Casual attire

Bring on all the unisex funky prints as you select your face mask for a stroll on the beach or a drive downtown for a shopping spree. Get whacky, be cool, wear your attitude. After all, you can also partially conceal your true self behind each mask.

Solemn attire

If you wish to visit a place of worship or attend a religious ceremony, including a funeral, avoid wearing face masks that appear loud. For such places, black, white, grey are best suited. The same is applicable also for a visit to a hospital/clinic, even if you are not the patient.

At home

If you expect to be visited by friends or relatives, make sure that social distancing gets priority. Secondly, it is advisable to wear medical masks when meeting people who do not live with you at your own home, including visiting electricians/handymen who might drop in to fix technical snags.

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