Updated: Aug 23, 2020
How many layers does yours have? Does it boast expansion concertina pleats or lie flush to your contours? Are the straps the full-monty, sporting snap-back loops or the less adjustable semi-sliders? Have you gone for designer material or off-the-peg functional? A one-time wonder or multi-operational re-user?
Perhaps, like Cindy Crawford, you have a huge range of inexplicable colours and styles, lined-up on teeny-little hangers next to your shirts and dresses.
A few months ago, we’d have been talking strappy sandals or saucy underwear. Now it’s masks, bane of every shopper’s life.
“Did you see Kate’s mask?” gasped a slightly over-excited friend of mine.
“Liberty print, gorgeous, matched her dress, by Amaia London, £15, there are lots more patterns, I’m going to buy some.”
“Great,” I added, not without irony.
Mandatory masks have become the post-lockdown, must-have designer, accessory. Like the handbag, a seemingly ordinary, utilitarian object has sprouted fashion-wings to become so much more that a barrier to infection and with price tags to match.
If you’re feeling flush, Louis Vuitton’s leather number - in the company’s instantly recognisable brown and tan lettering and using ‘3A class antibacterial fabric’ - comes in at a cool £100.
Should you not feel like taking out a second mortgage in order to buy your milk in style, Gucci can be yours for a more modest £25 - you even get a picture of Mickey Mouse on the front (quite why is beyond me). Careful what you search for though; ‘Fall 2018’s’ accessory of choice was, apparently, Gucci’s knitted balaclava mask that, frankly, looks like something out of Silence of the Lambs but would, in all honesty, probably guarantee you getting to the front of the queue at Tesco in record time.
But here’s a thing, perhaps we’re missing the point. Perhaps (apart from the obvious benefit of hopefully protecting ourselves and others) the mask is performing a practical function that offers hidden depths rather than open display?
Suddenly, it allows us the chance to scoot round supermarkets and not pretend to smile at the school-gate mum etc you’d much rather avoid. Now we can move with the stealth of Zorro and only a piece of sophisticated facial recognition software can pick up your scent.
If you should have the misfortune to get caught in the baked bean aisle, suddenly we can – as if just emerging from the dentist’s chair - feign an inability for coherent discussion and make a swift exit, mumbling illogical excuses.
Having made it to the till, wearing our new “face gear”, we’re protected from that embarrassing display of emotion as you gasp, “How much?!” as the receipt hits your hand.
But here’s the clincher. Much like those dreary Zoom calls when we all donned our designer blouses on the top-half while leaving the unseen bottom segment to the joys of pyjamas and sweatpants, now we can forget make-up from the eyes down!
Remember Princess Di when she briefly flirted with the idea (and the surgeon) of moving around an operating theatre? Those amazing lashes cresting that hum-drum medical mask (£5 for three in the Coop by the way); an inscrutable expression lending itself to mystery and intimacy.
Never again need we wear foundation, blusher, setting powder, lipstick (they all slide down your face under a mask anyway so, when you finally pull it off in the car park, there’s a beard of sticky goo to contend with along with all that hand-sanitising). Forget fancy face masks, the eyes have it. Mascara's all you need.
Let’s celebrate the ordinary; don’t judge a book by its cover or indeed a person by their face mask, it’s what’s underneath that counts. “All fur coat and nae knickers,” they’d be saying in Morningside. As winter approaches, there might just be a line in fluffy masks. If there is, I very much hope it’ll only be their corona-catching properties that are real.