There are times when it’s acceptable to remove one’s face mask, and a brief photo op is arguably among them. That would be especially true for a public figure like Kate Middleton, who resumed her regular royal duties—which is to say meet and greets—in June, starting with a visit to a Fakenham garden center ahead of its reopening.
Since then, Middleton and her husband, Prince William, have kept (relatively) booked and busy. They’ve met with staff and volunteers at a local hospital, and even joined some for afternoon tea. They’ve met with two emergency responders and two mental health counselors to launch a mental health and frontline support fund in response to COVID-19. On her own, Middleton has met with parents and toddlers for a BBC segment, met with the staff of a children’s hospice center, and gardened with families and volunteers.
Each engagement was intended to address the difficulties of the pandemic. And while the Duke and Duchess have (sometimes, sort of) kept (some) of the NHS’s recommended 6.5-feet distance, on each occasion, they failed to wear a face mask.
So when Middleton and William turned up at a Sheffield food bank for baby supplies wearing masks on Tuesday, it marked a milestone: the very first time they’ve covered up during a mid-pandemic public appearance. The move made international headlines, and dominated the covers of tabloids like the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, and Metro. Express even enlisted a body language expert to analyze Middleton’s appearance, concluding from her “compensatory gestures” and “expressive eyebrows” that the mask increased the duchess’s confidence and made her feel “more assertive.” Naturally, the mask in question—a floral design by Amaia, which donates 30 percent of mask proceeds to the NHS—sold out.
And yet, by the next day, the mask was gone. Though the workers Middleton and William met with on a surprise visit to Wales didn’t seem to mind; in fact, many of them weren’t wearing masks either.
Thankfully, Middleton and William aren’t done with mask-wearing just yet. Both pulled theirs out for the second time ever at another point on Wednesday—ironically enough while they were outside, even though the coronavirus is known to spread more easily indoors.
In fact, as of July 24, Britons are required to wear face masks before entering and while inside enclosed public spaces in England. There are several exceptions—like children under 11—but royals are not among them. And they seem to realize as much: Four days after the rule went into effect, Duchess Camilla became the first British royal spotted wearing a cloth mask.
16 Stylish, Effective Fabric Face Masks
Made from rose sylk deadstock fabric, these handmade masks have an internal filter pocket and oversized bow ties for a sort of new-wave bonnet look. With each mask purchase, Collina Strada will be providing three masks to healthcare workers in New York City.
Made from vintage cotton, silk, and brocade with an interior cotton layer, these masks from this Los Angeles brand have a fun, retro feel.
Made with upcycled fabrics from past collections, these have an interior filter pocket and delicate bow ties that make for easy adjusting. 10% of all proceeds go toward COVID-19 response efforts.
With mismatched gingham ties and a playful kiss logo, these are the same masks that the accessories brand has been donating to healthcare workers in Los Angeles. Their website also makes it extraordinarily easy to donate directly to Color of Change, with a donation box right on the page that you can add to the total of your order.
Through mask sales so far, Rag & Bone has funneled over $350,000 to City Harvest and Campaign Zero. Now, $5 from the sale of each of these simple, sophisticated masks goes to the NAACP.
Consider this cotton mask a more fitted step up from wearing an actual bandanna.
Made with two layers of textile mill surplus cotton in pinstripes, ticking stripes, and Liberty-esque florals, these are an easy basic to add to your summer rotation. For each pack sold, Rent the Runway gives five masks to the nonprofit Project Renewal, which combats homelessness.
With an outer layer of denim and a tropical floral print, these are pleasingly sturdy. They’re also comfortable, with a soft cotton lining and straps that tie around your head.
With big, adjustable ties and a generously sized front panel, these masks are substantial without feeling too heavy for summer months. Additionally, 20% of proceeds from all masks will be donated to GetUsPPE.
25% of proceeds from these masks from cult favorite New York brand Batsheva go to Black Lives Matter. They’re reversible and made from the same lovely, feminine fabrics as their puff-sleeve dresses, so you could even go for a full look if you felt like it.
These cheerful pleated masks come with adjustable ties and a sweet little bow at the front.
Handmade in New York City from past season prints (think moody florals and African wax prints) these have elastic ear loops that make for an easy fit. 100% of proceeds will be donated to City Harvest and The Bowery Mission.
This New York atelier just started making masks out of two layers of generously sized cotton voile with elastic loops and an adjustable nose wire.
Durham-based home decor designer Katherine Hanes usually uses block print fabrics from Jaipur for elegant tablecloths and napkins. Now, she’s making cheerful masks and donating a portion of proceeds to the Durham Public School Foundation, which is helping to ensure children are getting meals during COVID-related school closures.
The masks from this chic unisex basics company are made from pleated deadstock Japanese twill in minimalist tones with tie straps.
These bright cotton masks have an innovative design that fits under the chin and ties around the nape of the neck. They also have a filter pocket and an adjustable nose wire.