The biggest shifts in fashion don’t come from trends, but from phenomena that disrupt society, such as wars, says fashion historian Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell. The COVID-19 crisis counts as one phenomenon.

Today, a mask is requisite wear when stepping out. Its dual purpose: to protect you and those around you. Yet, it ceases to be safe when not worn properly. The mask itself poses a health risk in situations like, picking up a phone call, sipping a drink while walking, or picking fruit at the store. The only proper way to wear a mask is to have it cover your nose, mouth, and chin completely.

Surgical masks offer adequate protection. But other face coverings, recommended by the WHO, CDC, and other medical institutions, also provide protection. Some may even be more style-forgiving and flexible. Since it’s become a fashion staple, designers and artists have designed more creative and artsy versions of this protective accessory. Now, options for stylish and comfortable masks abound. These enterprising mask producers are also conscious about safety and quality.

Here is a sampling of Rockwell’s stylish set. They’ll show you how to stay protected, while still looking fab, classy, and well put-together.


Gabbi Ramos-Flores

Gabbi Ramos-Flores, co-owner and pastry chef of Made Nice, supports local and sustainable brands. Her colorful textile ensemble from PIOPIO, handwoven by the weavers of Ilocos, complements her white eyelet face mask designed by Una Ricci, from Tryst Studio.  It’s  light and breathable, and also infused with N9 pure silver that has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Perfect for your breakfast runs.


Jeannie Javelosa

Jeannie Javelosa, co-founder of ECHOstore and GREAT Women, always goes for quality and timeless cuts. She’s also more interested in the material, and the values represented by the brands she buys. “It’s conscious living. They need to have supply chains and philosophies of sustainability embedded at the core of everything they do,” Jeannie declares.

Jeannie’s mask is made of handwoven textile by the Kalinga tribe. Its unique pattern goes with her red DAYANG jacket. The versatility of her KAKAIBAG is right for everyday errands. You may find all these pieces from GREAT Women.

If you’re looking for an inspiring read, then you should add her latest book entitled “Feminine Rising: The Beginning of Great Women” to your reading list.


Monchet Diokno Olives

Monchet Diokno Olives, a.k.a. The Fan Man, is as comfortable in his weekend #TitosofRockwell style as he is in a bespoke suit.  His fashion staples include his iconic fan, a scarf, sunglasses and a hat.

“COVID has helped me simplify my closet. I just keep basics and pull out a look of the week.  I always feel that dressing well, even for a pop into Santi’s, boosts your self-esteem”, says Monchet. To complement his easy and comfy weekend outfit, he turns to Rhett Eala’s vibrantly designed and cotton-lined face mask.


Manna Vargas

For climate change advocate Manna Vargas, the pandemic has made her shift her style toward functionality and comfort, at the expense of trendy and overly stylish pieces. She accentuates her locally embroidered Tilia top with Vania Romoff’s jacquard mask, a non-medical-grade face covering, with a slit allowing you to insert a surgical mask for added protection. Manna also adds that she prefers pieces that allow her to move around easily — from working, to doing errands, and exercising.


Dani Aliaga

For Rambla’s Dani Aliaga, the disruption caused by the pandemic to the F&B industry and to his own day-to-day business has been profound and extraordinary.  He pines for the busier and easier pre-COVID days. But for now, he embraces the changes and adapts to them earnestly. His style remains a constant though. The La Mascherina by Fino Leatherware suits his personality. The mask comes with two detachable and washable filters, made of molded foam and thermo-welded sports fabric.

The health crisis has shaped the way we dress. Comfort and function are fashion attributes we hold dear now. Yet, subtle changes are slowly creeping in, especially among people who usually turn to fashion as a mood-booster or a reflection of  their personality. The mask, for one, is a must-wear that can be as stylish as it is protective. Comfort, function, safety, and style: they’re not exclusive from each other. They can all be part of the fashion mix. They can buck any fashion trend, too. They’re here to stay.