7 sartorial face masks to return to work in style
Face masks have become part of our everyday lives in what has become the new normal since the outbreak of Covid-19. Who could have imagined the world would have changed so dramatically and so quickly when a global pandemic struck back in March?
With the government now making it compulsory (and long overdue in my opinion) to don a mask in shops and indoor spaces, as well as on public transport, I’ve rounded up the very best tailor-made masks I could get my hands on – which offer up an additional layer of protection for both you, the wearer, and the people around you. Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you. However, if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.
Just to be clear, none of these masks are official PPE equipment – which rightfully should be reserved for frontline workers, but in fact, the production of many of these fabric masks has helped many smaller companies stay afloat while they wait to resume their regular production. We recommend that you should wash your mask before use, and each subsequent time you use it. For masks containing an internal filter flap, this should be replaced after each use too.
As you can see from the imagery, there are a variety of shapes and designs on offer – some featuring extra details such as metal nose clips and internal flaps to incorporate a carbon filter while others are purely material in a more basic design with elastic ear fasteners.
I felt it was important to have all the masks photographed being worn by me, in order for you to make an informed decision as to which style best suits your face shape – bearing in mind that mine is oval-shaped. Take particular care to wear each mask properly – one shape fits all doesn’t apply here. Varying designs require different adjustments and fittings. What is most important (other than looking stylishly turned out of course) is that your nose and mouth are completely covered. If you choose to lower the mask beneath your nose, as I’ve witnessed many people doing so, it defeats the whole object.
Sharp and Dapper
Johan Ekelund, purveyor of the finest shirt stays in town, has also entered the face mask foray. His stylish wave pattern mask is perhaps my favourite of all the various fabrics submitted. The overall design is fantastic and beautifully crafted. The cantilever effect design unfurls for great coverage of the whole facial area between the top of the nose and under your chin. If it had a filter flap and adjustable nose wire it may well have topped the charts.
£13.50 (£11.25 outside EU), @sharpanddapper; sharpanddapper.com
sharp and dapper have just submitted a new design (burgundy fabric) and fabrics, including denim -, which not only contains a flap for a carbon filter but with an extra sewn in piece of fabric to make it three-layered. Must have read my mind.
Millie Bridget Henry x Jihae An
Textile print designer Millie Bridget Henry and Savile Row tailor Jihae An were both so moved by the Black Lives Matter campaign that they decided to utilise their combined skills in needlecraft to make beautiful hand made, silk masks to help raise money for a BLM charity. 100% of proceeds from this first release of masks will go straight to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. SLCT works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds from the ages of 13-30 to inspire and enable them to succeed in the career of their choice. They also influence others to create a fairer society in which everyone, regardless of their background, can flourish. Millie and Jihae’s masks boast expandable sections at the top and bottom which can be adjusted to fit your face as well as an internal flap to house a carbon filter. The pair will be extending the labyrinth design to incorporate more colourways in the coming weeks.
Composition External Layer 100% silk; Internal Layer 100% cotton
Care Instructions – Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before and after handling your mask – Hand wash using light detergent – Handmade in the UK- Hand drawn print – Labyrinth design
£32 via Milliebridgethenry.com; +44 (0) 7806812167
Pleated face mask in double-layer cotton
Savile Row tailor Caroline Andrew has very admirably spent much of the lockdown making scrubs for frontline NHS staff. Personally-speaking, out of all the masks I received for review, Andrew’s mask design is the one which fits my face shape best. Not only is it made from 230 thread count quality 100% cotton shirting fabric, but it has a flap to insert a carbon filter (which comes included) as well as adjustable nose wire – two small but significant details. I like it so much, I think I need the matching bengal stripe shirt.
Care instructions – Wash at 40 degrees
£20 via instagram: @carolineandrewlondon or via: carolineandrew.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org
Cummerbund style face mask
Sicilian tie and accessories brand Silvio Fiorello have produced a series of handmade silk masks with pleats based on the design of a cummerbund. The pleats offer flexibility of movement, and contain a cotton back for greater comfort against the skin. According to the company, silk has proven to be very effective in the prevention of viruses because of its inherent tight-weave. Interestingly, Fiorello’s design features the finest (in terms of its narrowness) earloops of all the masks reviewed. Made to order.
Neapolitan shirtmakers Sannino, based out of Salerno in the south of Italy, offer some beautiful fabrics boasting woven linen outer layers sourced from Albini. Each mask contains a protective inner layer reinforced with HEIQ Viroblock, among the first textile technologies in the world proven to be effective against the virus that causes COVID-19. Boasting a curved silhouette for improved voice detection and breathability. As with Caroline Andrew’s design, Sannino’s boasts a moldable nose piece for a tighter seal and extra protection and there is an additional internal flap to house either a carbon filter or additional layer of fabric. Why not do as I did and have a matching yellow and white striped seersucker bespoke shirt made while you’re there. Sannino’s full collection can be viewed on the company’s website.
Everybody Loves Pazzi, by Ayres Bespoke Tailor
Ayres Goncalo is a Savile Row trained tailor based out of Porto and Lisbon in Portugal. Ayres claims “Pazzi masks are the coolest in the world” and who could argue with that? Boasting a series of 30 colourful, playful, tongue-in-cheek type prints, simply provide him with 2 vital face measurements – one from nose to chin and then ear to nose – and he will hand-make your bespoke mask. The masks are made up of 3-pieces of fabric. The front and back sections are made of cotton to be as kind to the skin as possible, while the middle section is made from TNT – a non penetrable fabric which keeps viruses at bay. Contact Ayres directly and he will send you a ‘how to measure yourself’ video clip. Pazzi’s closest cousin in terms of shape is that of Camiceria Sannino (see above). Pazzi masks can be washed up to 30 times.
€20; Available by DM on instagram: @everybody_loves_pazzi; @ayresbespoketailor
Alexandra Wood Bespoke
Geometric cotton face mask
Alexandra Wood Bespoke, based out of Savile Row and her flagship store in Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire, has produced a stylish geometric pattern face mask (an exclusive repeat-pattern design based on her initials AW), made from super soft luxury cotton. The machine washable design, whose closest cousins are the Sannino and Pazzi masks, can be ordered online, or if you prefer the new colourway, red and navy, which Alex recently unveiled on social media, send her a DM on instagram and she will process your order that way. In terms of facial fit, this is pretty much spot on for my face shape.
£25; @alexandrawoodmenswear; alexandrawoodbespoke.co.uk
Dapper Rav, AKA Ravi Sagoo, whose stylish sartorial content and handlebar moustache grace our Instagram feeds has also been helping produce scrubs for frontline NHS staff – typical of the kind of caring guy he is. He’s also established his own accessories label while under lockdown, producing a series of handmade double-lined mask and pocket square sets, made from 100% cotton. All of which are available in a variety of designs, from playful ikat patterns to country pursuits, from his instagram account. Ravi kindly submitted his repeat pattern horse print design set, in light of my recent love for the equine side of life.
Mask £12, Pocket square £10 or £20 for the set; @dr_accessories; @dapper_rav
As more masks arrive, I will be providing updates, so please stay tuned.
Photographs by: William Osborne for Sartorialee