Credit: Courtesy Jugrnaut

I had trouble finding a mask that conformed to my face at the start of the pandemic. The ones I did have at my disposal at first tended to either be loose enough to slide around and reveal parts of my face I intended to conceal, or were tight enough to fold my earlobes over and press down on the tip of my nose with an intensity that left a mark. In the spring, I noticed Chicago designer Roger Rodriguez began making masks by hand using materials at his disposal, including coffee sacks and 3M reflective fabric. I’m not a hypebeast, but I have enough of a deep appreciation for independent Chicago streetwear companies that one of my dresser drawers is jam-packed with locally designed T-shirts; so I jumped at the chance to purchase a face mask by an owner of the great Loop boutique, Jugrnaut. Rodriguez’s sturdy mask was just what I had been looking for, and bested only by the washable masks Jugrnaut began to produce in larger quantities last summer. I bought a couple of the store’s masks, which have easy-to-adjust elastic straps that don’t tug on my ears, a cozy shape that perches neatly on my nose and contains the lower half of my face in its compact frame, and a pocket to slide in a filter. I’m keen on the black mask with the phrase “Chicago Everywhere” superimposed over the mouth in clean letters. It’s the mask I always want to wear whenever I step out of my house.