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New Yorkers won’t wear flu masks unless they’re fashionable

New York City red-carpet events are rarely a display of practical fashion, but the current fear of the flu is causing even the most fabulous fashionistas to quake in their stilettos.

At a New York Fashion Week party last week, blogger Esther Berg pulled up to the step-and-repeat, wearing a black lace jumpsuit, fur stole, sky-high sandals — and a medical mask with interlocking Chanel C’s on it that she crafted herself. Berg was co-hosting the bash with “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Dolores Catania, and she blithely posed for photos with fans.

“I might be scared of the flu, but I don’t want to sacrifice fashion,” says Berg, 41, a mother of four from Long Island’s North Shore who has more than 255,000 Instagram followers. “I’d rather look crazy and take these extra measures than wind up in the ER or on the news.”

Whether their face coverings are DIY or ordered online, style-obsessed New Yorkers no longer have to choose between being an influencer and getting influenza. Companies that sell stylish surgical masks are seeing a spike in sales this flu season, classified as the worst since the swine flu made its rounds in 2009.

Ellessco, an online retailer that sells filtration masks in about 20 different prints, reports that flu fears have contributed to an estimated 25 percent sales spike for them. And Vogmasks — which sells patterned respirator masks originally created to deflect dust at the Burning Man festival — has seen about a 20 percent uptick in sales since the start of this flu season, according to co-founder Wendover Brown.

Dr. Maggie Bertisch, a doctor at NYU Langone Urgent Care on the West Side, says masks can be especially useful when airborne particles — such as a wayward sneeze on the subway — are loose. Proper fit is important, and masks should be replaced or sanitized every day they’re in use. (Respirator masks, which have valves and form more of a seal around the face, are the most effective at preventing the flu virus.)

While not a foolproof prevention strategy, wearing a mask can increase your chances of staying flu-free if combined with frequent hand-washing, says Noah Greenspan, a cardiopulmonary physical therapist and author of “Ultimate Pulmonary Wellness.”

“The current trend towards colorful masks that also protect our lungs … means that retailers are finally starting to think about our respiratory health seriously — and stylishly,” he says.

Pamela Johnston, a 49-year-old mom of two from Manhattan, picked up a fuchsia-spangled “mask cover” six months ago from Etsy, which she wears as a snazzy second layer over her medical-grade surgical mask.

“I love to travel — and I refuse to be a prisoner of the flu epidemic. I wear it in the subway, in the movie theater, in a crowded supermarket,” says Johnston.

“Why should I look like I just walked out of the ER?”

Berg agrees.

“I’m not wearing a plain white medical mask that looks drab,” says the blogger, who prefers to jazz hers up by stapling on inexpensive patches she buys from Etsy. (She reuses the patches, but changes the paper masks daily.)

Berg has also foisted the accessory on her 16-year-old son, Jack, who takes the LIRR into the city on weekends.

“She made it really dope,” says Jack, of the mask his mom made for him using skater insignias. “She took my passion for streetwear and implemented it. I wear it all the time when I go into the city on the weekends … People ask me where I got it. People think it’s cool.”

Other flu-phobic fashion plates are taking note.

Fashion designers Goldy Rosenfeld and Sara Hakakian, co-founders of Front Row Couture, a modest womenswear line, used their Parsons fashion chops to transform their boring Rite Aid masks. The designers from Rockland County first sketched their designs of choice, then got to work using adhesive rhinestones, faux jewels and pearls.

Rosenfeld, 33, is five months pregnant and wears a mask whenever she’s out in public. Although she’s extremely concerned about getting sick, maintaining her style status in the fashion industry is important, too, so the “blingy” masks are a must.

“When you’re in the business, you’re not just selling your product, you’re selling yourself,” she says.

And Hakakian says she hasn’t experienced mask detractors when she’s worn her bedazzled piece to the airport and on the plane during her frequent work travels.

“People really admire [the masks],” says Hakakian, 44. “They see us as fashionable designers doing anything to protect ourselves.”


Source: https://nypost.com/2018/02/12/fashion-week-attendees-are-jazzing-up-their-flu-masks/

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