As face masks are now essential accessories for keeping our community safe, colorful patterns and quirky prints are popping up as style statements across Alexandria. We’ve gathered face mask fashion pointers, from finding the right fit to picking the perfect pattern, from some of our favorite local trendsetters and business owners. Watch our ultimate face mask styling video and keep reading for easy ways to up your game.

Face coverings are required in all public indoor spaces except when drinking, eating or exercising, as well as outdoors when 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained.

1. Pick Your Mask Personality

Image Credit: Chelsea Anderson

Subtle? Bold? One of each? Consider your fashion personality while selecting your masks. Chelsea Anderson, the advertising, marketing and communications director for Home Grown Restaurant Group, leans toward versatile neutrals to subtly compliment an eye-catching outfit. “All of my masks are neutral colors,” Chelsea says. “I wear my lighter color mask when I’m out on the town and not at work as it matches with everything and helps me feel somewhat pulled together.”

On the other hand Dani Sauter, the Alexandrian also known as Blonde in the District, makes her face mask a focal point. She inspires her 100k+ Instagram followers with outfits topped off with colorful, conspicuous masks. “Make a style statement,” Dani says. “Since it’s mandatory to wear masks in public, I consider them part of my entire outfit.”

2. Choose Masks with Ear Loops to Maximize Hairstyle Options

Image Credit: Nicole McGrew

To choose a mask that ties in the back or one that loops around your ears, that is the question. Nicole McGrew, owner of Threadleaf, Old Town’s hub for responsibly made, fashion-forward garments, recommends masks with ear loops, for reasons of both comfort and aesthetic. “I like ear loop masks because they are the most comfortable to me,” Nicole says. “They also don’t interfere with your hair, so you can do a bun, top-knot, down loose, or whatever you’d like.”

Once you choose the type that suits you best, the world is your oyster. “In terms of patterns and colors, I love mixing it up,” Nicole says. “I’ll coordinate my face covering to complement my outfit, or to make a certain color pop. You can also do subtle pattern clashing.”

3. Shop for the Perfect Mask from Alexandria Boutiques and Designers

Image Credit: Dani Sauter (@blonde_inthedistrict)

For the sewing averse, there are plenty of options of Alexandria boutiques where you can buy gorgeous designed masks. We’ve curated a list of more than 20 local business to check out, including Black-owned boutiques donna lewis and Threadleaf. Dani recommends the block-printed patterns from Tulusa Goods, masks by @heatherjordanhair from Salon deZEN and the offerings at Dmaran Design.

Chelsea, meanwhile, gets her supply from Greener Cleaners in Del Ray. These masks suit her long shifts bouncing between neighborhood favorites like Carlyle’s Tequila & Taco and Del Ray’s Pork Barrel BBQ. “I love these masks as they are locally made, high quality, and they have a slot for a filter if you so wish to have one,” Chelsea says. “They also have a small piece of wire in the nose area that allows me to make sure everything is fully covered and snug.” Similarly, Brandon Byrd, owner of Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats, sports his Alexandria-made mask while serving legendary Wisconsin-style frozen custard and nostalgic treats from his 1950s-inspired vintage van and soda fountain.

Image Credit: Caroline Secrest for Visit Alexandria

4. Repurpose (and Layer) Bandanas and Scarves to Serve as Face Coverings

Image Credit: K Nacion

Want to shop your own closet for a face covering solution? Director of Membership at The Chamber ALX, K Nacion, recommends layering stylish scarves and bandanas. “Using bandanas and/or summer scarves are my go-to’s, as they can be folded triangularly three-ply—the thicker the better—not to mention the convenience of already having them in my closet,” K says. “Best of all, they’re easily washable.”

When you’re on-the-go, K advises stashing your covering in a Ziploc bag in your pocket or purse to keep it clean, along with hand sanitizer. Watch a video on how to make-your-own cloth face covering here.

5. Make Your Mask a Mood-Lifter

It may be counter-intuitive, but the very accessory that signals the pandemic can also double as a morale boost and means of self-expression. According to actor and content creator María José Ovalle, “No one can deny that the accessory of 2020 is the face mask, and people are making it part of their personal style with bedazzled looks, inspirational quotes or anything that shows off their personality.”

Dani agrees, encouraging you to pick fun prints, colors or masks with feel-good, positive sayings. “There are so many options for masks now, so we may as well wear ones that are uplifting and fun to brighten our moods,” she says. Whether it’s decorated with a fun or meaningful quote, a vibrant pattern or the perfect shade to complement your complexion, there’s no reason your mask can’t make you smile—with your eyes.

6. Add Areas of Interest Around Your Mask

Image Credit: Dani Sauter (@blonde_inthedistrict)

A bold statement like bright red lipstick may be hidden when wearing a face mask, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways to make a statement. Add colorful and complementary earrings or play up your eye makeup. “Since the bottom half of our faces are hiding behind masks, I’ve been wearing bright-colored liquid eyeliner or sparkle eyeshadow to add a pop of color,” Dani says.

Browse boutiques and local designers offering fashionable masks and find more ways to make the most of Alexandria at home here.

Header Image Credit, from left to right: Instagram account for Threadleaf; Instagram user @beautifulhawtmess; Dani Sauter (@blonde_inthedistrict)

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