Shopping Style Fashion Lookbook

10 fashionable and breathable face masks to rock this summer

As U.S. states begin to lift mandated lockdowns, local government and health officials are instituting measures to maintain social distancing and safety protocols in public areas. Everyone will be required to wear a face mask, which according to the CDC, is significantly proven to decrease the risk of spreading the virus. That said, we’ll all be wearing masks for the foreseeable future, whether it’s for a quick run to the grocery store, to the workplace, or simply walking your dog around the neighborhood.  Most recently, face masks have gained more popularity as a fashion staple, with the rise of ‘mask selfies’ throughout social media. Personally, there’s nothing worse than planning out an impeccably sorted outfit only to ruin it with a blue surgical mask. So, leave the N95’s for healthcare workers and grab these 10 fashionable and breathable face masks to rock this summer:

1. Lisa Says Gah (Knit Mask & Knit Scrunchie Set – $32

[Image description: An orange mask with a strap on either side.] via Lisa Says Gah

Support small businesses and score double cuteness points, by opting for this knit mask and scrunchie duo from this San Francisco based clothing boutique. The bright tangerine, creamsicle color is the perfect addition to a colorful summer wardrobe. With every mask purchase, Lisa Says Gah is committed to donating $1 to the San Francisco Marin Food Bank.

2. Outdoor Voices (5 Pack Face Mask – $25)

via Outdoor Voices
[Image description : A denim blue color mask with the words ‘Outdoor Voices’ embroidered in white.] via Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices is one of my favorite recreational active-wear companies, mainly for their soft, velvety yoga leggings and their reinvention of athleisure style. They recently launched a set of 5 durable, washable and reusable masks for a bargain price of $25 and are partnering with Masks for the People to support underserved, minority communities in the U.S.


3. Citizens of Humanity (3 Pack Cotton Face Coverings – $30)

via ShopBop
[Image description: Three facemasks with striped patterns.] via ShopBop

Known for their fashion-forward and locally manufactured denim jeans, Citizens of Humanity recently introduced a series of cotton face masks in beautiful pastel-toned and nautical designs. The perfect accompaniment to your flowy summer dresses and all-white assemble.

4. Madewell (Three Pack Non-Medical Face Masks – $20)

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[Image description: White and black face masks in a checkered and striped print.] via Madewell

The popularized sister company of J.Crew, notable for their willowy and feminine styles, are bringing back plaid with their best selling packs of 100% cotton face masks. They come in five beautiful patterns such as ‘Ash Melange’ and ‘Blue Glen’ which are the best addition to your summer bag essentials.

5. Aerie (Reusable Face Mask – $14.95)

via Aerie
[Image description: A grey toned, camouflage print face mask.] via Aerie

Aerie, the sister brand of American Eagle, universally acclaimed for their body positivity campaigns, introduced a new collection of reusable face masks in fun prints such as camouflage and cheetah print. Upholding their philanthropic mission and community support, they are donating 20% of proceeds to Crisis Text Line, a text-based crisis service providing free, confidential 24/7 support.

6. Splendid (3 Pack Face Coverings – $28)

via Splendid
[Image description: Three face masks. One is grey, the second is purple and white camouflaged print. The third is a black and white striped mask.] via ShopBop

If you’re a fan of Splendid’s ultimate, super soft t-shirt, you’ll love their new face coverings which are made of 100% cotton. They also come in a trio of colors in each pack, like solid gray, colorful camouflage, and preppy stripes.

7. Lucky Brand (5 Pack Pleated Cotton Face Mask – $25)

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[Image description: A blue and white striped print mask.] via Lucky Brand

It’s no surprise that Lucky Brand, a leader in the American denim industry, shifted their creative strategy into developing pleated masks in the pattern of chambray swatches and denim pockets. They’re also locally sourced and handmade in Los Angeles, CA, and charitable, as they will donate 5 masks to low income and unhoused community members in the Los Angeles area for every 5-pack sold.

8. Kenneth Cole (Wear in this Together Cotton Mask – $15)

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[Image description: A solid black facemask.] via Kenneth Cole

Kenneth Cole is one of my all-time favorite brands, for their socially conscious mission and chic, contemporary collection of shoe wear and clothing. Perfectly suited for monochromatic all-black outfits, this Wear in this Together Cotton Mask is your next go-to accessory. For every mask purchased, Kenneth Cole will donate 10% net sales to the Mental Health Coalition, a movement dedicated to destigmatizing mental health.

9. FashionNova (Camo Face Mask 3 Pack- $14.99)

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[Image description: Three face masks. One is black, one is grey with white straps, and one is a camouflage print.] via FashionNova

FashionNova—a favorite of top celebrities and social media influencers including Cardi B— has released a collection of face masks for all style aficionados alike. My top pick is this super affordable pack of gray, black, and classic camouflage face masks fitted with durable ear loops for maximum comfort and efficiency. 


10. Rent the Runway (Made by RTR 5 Pack Reusable Masks – $50)

via Rent the Runway
[Image description: Five different patterned face masks.] via Rent the Runway

Finally, if you’re looking for the perfect pack of colorful, sophisticated, yet feminine face masks, look no further. Rent the Runway, a popular online service that is known for providing designer and accessory rentals shifted gears by launching a Buy 5, Give 5 campaign. For each 5 pack of face masks sold, Rent the Runway will donate a 5 pack of face masks to a community in need, through the non-profit Project Renewal, a New York-based organization founded to end the cycle of homelessness.

Fashion Lookbook

The fashion accessory of the moment is a homemade face mask

As quarantine begins to (hopefully) wrap up, we can only wait and see as to what else 2020 has in store for us. Just because quarantine is over, however, it doesn’t mean we can all go out and be all over each other. With a certain amount of social distancing being practiced, it is safe to say that society will – at least for the foreseeable future – be smothered in protective face masks. And due to the shortage of medical masks, most of us will be wearing homemade cloth masks – equally as protective, but decidedly more fashionable.

Mask-making has taken over homes for the better. After quarantine, fashion will undergo a necessary transformation, and wearing these masks will become the new norm. Countless DIY tutorials have been made and small organizations formed to aid in the production and distribution of these homemade masks. People have also made donations and are running fundraisers so that those in need can stay protected from the virus as well. 

Colorful mask from House of Perna.
[Image description: Colorful mask from House of Perna.] Via House of Perna.
Making these new masks has not only brought society together, but also shows how we can be resourceful and creative while in quarantine. Because fashion won’t look the same again for a while, people have already begun experimenting with different types of fabric and various patterns to make their masks look more stylish. 

For example, Californian designer Alyssa Nicole has crafted beautiful, chic black face masks and is selling them online. Others are donating their homemade masks to those in need. Companies, like Disney, have also been selling masks and donating their profits to charity so that children in underserved communities can be protected. Another example of this is Joann, a company bringing volunteers together to create face masks for donation.

Black protective face masks.
[Image description: Black protective face masks.] Via Alyssa Nicole.
Although some luxury labels have started taking charge, mask-making for the most part has stayed within American homes. This has allowed Americans to put their own creative spin on the masks, while also making them effective as a protective measure. My mom has made so many different masks, and each time she uses a different fabric or a different design. Every mask that she makes is unique, and she gets so excited every time she makes one. These masks don’t just signify a safety measure, but are also the result of a lot of creativity and care.

Colorful mask from The Collective at Indigo Style.
[Image description: Colorful mask from The Collective at Indigo Style.] Via Indigo Style.
It will definitely take some time to adjust to these masks. They look and feel different every time we put them on. Popular fashion has had to progress beyond aesthetics and feeling. Now, we have to consider the safety and health of ourselves and those around us every time we get dressed. It’s a responsibility we owe to ourselves and to our communities. So go on, get masking. 

Career Coronavirus Now + Beyond

Zoom bombers reminded me why I cherish teaching

Like many teachers in the age of COVID-19, I’ve switched to virtual classrooms (Zoom) as of late. It’s been two months since I last stood in a classroom, since I last had a thriving discussion about Poe’s work or Bradbury’s prose

It’s a peculiar experience, this feeling of teaching literature – a form that so heavily relies on a connection between pen and paper, person and prose, real life discussion – through a screen. But we’ve been steadily moving, finding ways to decipher this new reality. 

Last week, I came across some articles about zoom bombers: someone crashing your Zoom and disrupting it, much like photobombing. I skimmed through them, not thinking too much about it. People had also been sending me a lot of videos with jokes being played on teachers à la zoom bombers, but I just brushed them off. It wasn’t until a few days after, when it happened to me, that I realized how deeply disturbing and disrespectful it could be. I was teaching a class, one that I’d spent the entire previous afternoon preparing when it was disrupted – I quickly removed the intruder and carried on. 

Because as a teacher, that’s what you do. You pick yourself up and keep moving. I’ve always been really impatient as a person, but teaching is the one thing that’s made me learn some patience. You can’t do it without any.

Teaching isn’t pretty.

And then came the next set of zoom bombers. This one was worse. The crasher came in, abusing, cursing, just totally taking away from the entire environment I had crafted for the day. It made me think about how the teenage mind works, how they believe that they’re invincible, and that repercussions and accountability don’t exist for them. Sometimes, respect isn’t given at all, only taken and honestly, it shocks me. I barely remember that feeling, the one where fear didn’t exist in my heart, and actions were the first means of communication before words. 

The class progressively got worse. Another crasher came in and played a recording of sex noises. I was disturbed, yes. But more than that, I was afraid. Afraid for the future of children who think like that, for those who are constantly on the mode of attack for the simple sake of humor. And humor to what extent? No one knows. 

My mind can’t fathom what makes someone act this way – but that’s alright. And the irony of the situation is that it says a lot more about them than it does about me.

This is why I teach.

I confronted my students, reported the incident, and carried on. But what I didn’t expect is how the students (the ones that come here to learn, to grow, to expand their thinking) reacted. My email flooded with apologies and appreciation and I was reminded – this is why I teach.

Classroom management in a virtual world is new to us and we’re all still learning. There will be bumps and bruises along the way but teaching isn’t meant to be pretty. It accepts the flaws that come with it and works on tackling them in the best way possible.

That one moment where the students sit quietly in awe of the way a story comes together – or a character has her moment of absolution – or a poet evokes some form of greater understanding – that’s everything. And that’s why there’s never a dull day in this line of work.

Zoom is an average substitute, and the virtual classroom is the only thing we can cling to right now – but we, as teachers, and educators know that human connection, the passing down of knowledge, the exchange of ideas – that’s where the real learning comes from. 

Science Now + Beyond

There’s a hole in the sun, and we might be in trouble

For centuries, ancient civilizations worshipped the sun as holy. However, occasionally the sun is just hole-y. Literally. The sun can get something called a coronal hole, which looks like a huge black spot on the sun. As ominous as that sounds, it’s not anything to be worried about, though.

You won’t be able to see these holes, because they can only be viewed with instruments that can sense heat, or infrared cameras. But NASA has something called the Solar Dynamics Observatory (or SDO) up in space, which keeps an eye on the sun and its changing condition. And this spacecraft can send the infrared photos that will allow us to see phenomena like solar holes.

Images from the SDO are often colored in order to make the effect easier to see. Techonology enthusiasts such as Tom Yulsman can also use the images from NASA to make composite images that show the movement and scope of the coronal hole.

The easiest way to understand a complicated term like coronal hole is to break it down. The corona is an astronomy term for the outermost layer of the sun. So a coronal hole means that there’s a hole in the layer of hot gasses that form the outside of the sun.

How a hole forms

If you know anything about gasses, you know that they like to expand. So what keeps all of the gasses in the sun within a concentrated space? The answer is magnetic fields. Usually the magnetic field lines around the sun form loops, keeping the majority of the gasses contained (of course there’s always some gas that escapes. We’ll get to that later). When a coronal hole happens, the magnetic field distorts, and the magnetic lines point out into space. This means that more of the gas from the sun can flow into space.

When the hot gas flows out into space, the area that it used to occupy has less gas in it. This also means that the temperature of that area is (relatively) lower, and that the area looks darker than the other parts of the sun, which still have a lot of the burning gas. This is why the coronal holes appear black in comparison with the rest of the sun.

What are the impacts?

As previously mentioned, there is always some gas that escapes from the sun. This normal leakage of gas is called a solar wind.  But when a solar hole occurs a lot more gas flows out than the normal rate. In fact, NASA stated in an earlier article about coronal holes that solar winds can leave a hole at a rate that’s three times faster than the average rate. Another space information site says that coronal winds normally leave the sun at about 250 miles/second, but that they can leave the sun at 500 miles/second when the magnetic fields are weaker and there is a coronal hole.

So extra strong cosmic winds in can’t have no effect at all right? We’re far enough away from the sun that the heat won’t damage Earth. But the extra solar material creates something called a geomagnetic storm. These storms add extra heat to earth’s atmosphere, which changes the overall composition, and can interfere with devices that we’ve put in the lower atmosphere. So this means satellites, radio waves and GPS signals may all be thrown slightly off. It may also change the magnetic currents that flow through power grids and pipelines.  

If you would like to watch for a coronal hole over time check out NASA’s SDO website.