What is 3 Ways or the Highway?

When considering a new purchase, it is important to set some ground rules. The rules apply to anything we add to our closet! As a reminder, the rules are as follows: (1) Style the item in question 3 unique ways. (2) 15 minutes to create each look (3) Weigh all the looks and the store/brand/cost and decide if the purchase is versatile enough to be worth it. Start the clocks.

Introduction

Since face masks as an accessory are here to stay, I have been on the hunt for the right ones to add to my closet. As experts have encouraged the public to wear them for communal benefit, buying the “coolest” mask has been increasingly uncomfortable with for-profit companies selling them for $40, $60, or even $100 (looking at you Collina Strada). Some of them have clauses detailing where your money goes (e.g. face masks for healthcare workers) but these deals are still often hard to appreciate, knowing how much it costs to make a mask at home.

On top of all this, the outrage and calls to action after the murder of George Floyd have brought a number of charitable organizations like the Minnesota Freedom Fund, Reclaim the Block, Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, and Black Visions Collective to the forefront. The Girl was founded to encourage smart buying, making the right decisions for your closet - and no matter the outcome of this 3 Ways or the Highway, I am encouraging everyone to donate to these organizations before spending money elsewhere. Forgoing this addition to your closet if need be is equally - if not more - powerful and purposeful right now, vs. adding one extra item to it.

If you have money after that to spend on your own closet, I am looking at masks to start integrating into my daily attire. This amazing full head, ruffled version caught my eye. I put it in my cart and kept coming back to it every day for a week until I decided to make a decision once and for all:

The Item 411

Source/Brand: The source and brand is Slashed by Tia, a independently owned, Black female-run business. The founder and designer’s name is Teni “Tia” Adeola; she is from Nigeria and was raised in London, only 23 years old. She created this brand from her dorm room in 2017 and Teen Vogue said “She’s ready to be one of the greatest female couture designers in the world.” With her line’s use of ruffles, pearls, and velvet, she wanted to subvert the association of extravagant clothing for white royals in Renaissance paintings by using the same aesthetics and designing for accessibility and people of color. When asked why ruffles, she said: “Personally, my style is very tomboyish. My mom, who is Nigerian, actually complains all the time that I dress like a boy. So, I wanted to make something that people often associate with being super girly, but do something really interesting with it.” When you see celebrities donned in sheer ruffles, there is a good chance that they are wearing her line, Slashed (Little Mix music video, Gigi Hadid, NY Fashion Week).

Cost: $45 and 75% of the profits go toward the battle against COVID-19.

Design: What made me nervous and excited about the design was the fact that it goes over the wearer’s entire head. Most masks I have seen only cover your mouth, and I feel this design is not something I can easily make at home and is a statement fashion. We are seeing some mask designs that push the envelope and this is definitely one of them that was in my price range. The website says hand wash only.

So! Should I buy this?

"3 Ways or the Highway" Rules

Before adding items to our closet, each one has to go through these 3 rules:

  1. Style the item in question 3 unique ways (call me out if I cheat)
  2. 15 minutes to create each look
  3. Weigh all the looks and the store/brand/cost and decide if the purchase is versatile enough to be worth it.

Start the clocks.

Outfit 1

Thoughts while creating this outfit:

  • For the first outfit, I wanted to set myself up for success. Black and denim are two colors that are the O negative of the styling world — they go with everything. Adding onto that, the Canadian tuxedo is a statement and I could see myself wearing that type of look.
  • The faded, whiter tones in the denim match the white mask, or really any color mask for that matter. Feeding off of Tia’s intent to marry whimsical ruffles with structured silhouettes, the practical heritage of jeans serves the same purpose when set against the frilly mask.
  • The other common theme I built upon was volume — the ruffles, the oversized shirt, the slightly baggy jeans, and the relaxed leather on the clutch.
  • Starting today, I am declaring no skinny jeans and no sleek leather bags paired with jeans. They make outfits look too uptight and conformed to a male-defined version of sexy, which is not an image we want to endorse. We want to be chill, effortless, nonchalant, and subversive.
  • I tried a light blue clutch to play into the denim colors, but I preferred the look when the mask matched the bag.

Outfit 2

Thoughts while creating this outfit:

  • One of my friends is (as of now it is still on) getting married in October. When wondering if they were going to cancel, I thought about how weddings as a whole will change — what will the ceremony seating be like? The dance floors? I tried to be optimistic and think about the outfit I would wear to this inter-faith Jewish-Catholic ceremony, held in Florida where I would need to don a mask despite what the haters say.
  • The next color that I felt went well with the white mask was a pale, pastel yellow. I feel halter or cross-back style dresses make me feel alluring, which helps offset my getting used to the mask covering most of my face and long hair.
  • The shoes and sunglasses would match the white mask and I wanted the sunglasses to have a vintage 60s vibe and shape, where the frames extended beyond the sides of my face. This would prevent an alternative, less flattering look — a white accessorized condom, with two beady little round black sunglasses.
  • The purse matching with the bag creates a nice balance of white and yellow together.

Outfit 3

Thoughts while creating this outfit:

  • I wanted to think of a pared down outfit for my last look, an outfit that is dialed down to the basics, to see if the mask would still go well with a simpler outfit.
  • The stoic, structured, boxy items of clothing worked well in the first outfit, serving as a contrast to the superfluous ruffles of the mask. I have been eyeing these amazing pleather long shorts from Frankie Shop and I thought I would wear with high boots to avoid looking like a squat 10-year old kid in basketball shorts.
  • The white fitted tank is no-frills and the face mask is all frills, which looked great. After that I tried out some gold chain jewelry and had to play around with combinations of bracelets and necklaces, just a necklace, and then settled on the chain being a part of the bag so no need for more chains on my body.

Final verdict

Seeing these outfits together:

  1. Versatility: It was surprisingly easy to come up with three styles for this seemingly intense mask. I think as long as the themes of restraint and whimsy are present in tandem, the opportunities are endless and can cover a range of formality requirements.
  2. Would I wear all the outfits created?: Yes I would. It would take a little getting used to since the mask is covering my whole head but I anticipate getting more compliments that insults, which is all any of us can hope for.
  3. Is the price worth it?: It is one of the higher priced masks I have considered but the fact that a.) it is created by a small business run by a young Black female designer, b.) the profits go towards philanthropic efforts, and c.) seeing Aurora James’ call for 15% of products large corporations sell to be from Black-owned businesses, I feel this is an extra prudent purchase. It is a super unique addition to my closet and has sentimental meaning to me, knowing where my money went and having a rich designer story underpinning the item.

While the answers to the questions above are positive, I feel these outfits are highly dependent on the items worn on top being extremely specific and unique. I feel if I didn’t have items that draped exactly like that blazer or had the same fit and colors as that jacket, the outfits might not work. I need to do more exploration with them, and the 15 minutes per outfit was not enough to convince me.

I have decided I am going to buy this mask.

Rest in power George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Lorenzo Dean, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Sean Reed, Nina Pop, and so many more before this.