6 Australian creatives on how they style their face masks

Words by Ruby Staley

And how they’re using fashion to fight the doom and gloom.

Who would have guessed that this season’s must-have accessory would obscure half your face and be enforced by the government? Not me, that’s for sure.

To halt the spread of COVID-19, wearing a mask outside your home (for the selection of reasons you may leave) has been made compulsory for regional and metropolitan Victoria. While there was some pushback – Karen I’m looking at you – most of the state and beyond took the guidelines on board.

Some dusted off the old sewing machine and depleted Spotlight’s elastic and fabric stocks, deciding to make their own face coverings. Others have used it as an opportunity to support small and local fashion labels who have pivoted to mask making in an impressively quick manner.

Either way, it’s clear everyone is adjusting. Over the last month whilst on in-frequent supermarket trips or government-approved walks around the block, I (luckily) haven’t seen a single soul mask-less. It’s comforting to know that although our state and our country is in a health predicament, everyone (at least in my five-kilometre radius) is taking it seriously.

I’ll admit, it took me a few days to get into the mask-wearing habit – more than once I had to quickly dash back into my house after walking out the door uncovered – but now I feel like I’m starting to have a bit of fun with it.

Dusting off my old trusty sewing machine, I  created a series of custom face masks from scraps and forgotten pieces of fabric with all my newly discovered free time. Although my face coverings left much to be desired and are nowhere near as comfortable or functional as a professionally made one, it was exciting to create new iso outfits from a piece I had made proudly from scratch.

I’m pleased to say I made the mask pictured above, despite having the most rudimentary of sewing machine skills. The addition of the string pearls really set it above my 99 other plain black masks and paired with my new favourite piece of clothing, this second-hand sweater vest, I feel as close to my best self as one can feel at a time like this.

Incorporating a fun mask into an ensemble can be just as mood-enhancing as matching a great pair of earrings to your outfit or slinging a statement bag over your shoulder, but it’s actually a little more political than those stylistic choices. When I choose to wear my mask, it says to the world that I care about the health and wellbeing of those around me and that I’m more than happy to be slightly uncomfortable in the hopes of reducing our collective potential and existing suffering.

Because of this I feel far more empowered wearing my mask than any other accessory I own, not just because I am forced to wear one but because of the possible future freedom it signifies. Deep in reflection on the act of mask-wearing, I rounded up a selection of some of Australia’s most talented and fashion-savvy creatives to show me how they wear their masks.

Ana Piteira, Reliquia founder and managing director

“This is my go-to outfit because fringing on clothes makes even the most mundane day at my desk feel festive. At first, I found wearing a mask a little unnatural as I am sure a lot of people did but I happily wear one because it means keeping myself and those around me safe. This one is by Gabriel For Sach who is also responsible for this delightful poncho.”


Emily Nolan, E Nolan founder and designer

I’m wearing the E Nolan Fabulous Face Mask. This is one of my first made to measure suits from E Nolan. Although ambitious in its colour, being cotton it is easy to clean. It is the first suit I will wear out of isolation. I’m wearing it with the E Nolan Seafoam Cricket Vest that I’ve been living in during stage four.”


Tahnee Edwards, Gammin Threads founder and designer

“Masks are annoying but essential, I’m respecting my community and those around me by wearing one. This has been one of my consistent lockdown looks – an oversized jumper and wide-leg trackies. I love leisurewear so a number of my isolation purchases have been fancy track pants.”


Maeva Helene, Bread Beauty Supply founder

“I love experimenting with style, but I’ve never really been a fan of traditional accessories like earrings or necklaces. The optimist in me loves that face masks give me the opportunity to experiment in a unique way.”


Sienna Ludbey, Hello Sisi designer and founder

“This has been one of my fave iso outfits because my boyfriend’s Mum knitted me this little pink vest and my best friend made me this mask. Iso can feel pretty lonely so it’s nice to keep friends and family close any way you can.”


Briar Griffiths-Kemp, Suku Home sales assistant and Suku Girl

“When we need to cover our faces to protect ourselves and the community around us, expression can become lost behind a mask. In difficult times, I think it’s really important to embrace clothing and colour as a form of expression and a way to make us feel joy. This outfit makes me feel vibrant and lively, whilst feeling like I just stepped into a warm doona.”


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