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20-40-60 ETIQUETTE: On fashion-coordinating masks, social-distancing clothing

QUESTION: As people are returning back to work, are previous dress codes still in place? Will there be a more casual atmosphere? Are there outfits we could wear to help people social distance away from us? Should masks match our clothing?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: I think each business will decipher about work attire and the new normal for their company. Hopefully people are still trying to social distance and wear their masks when in public. No, mask doesn’t have to match, but that’s a fun idea and accessory!

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: Sorting this out overall will take some time. I don’t think we know what the world will look like post-pandemic as we are still understanding more about this virus each week. So follow the guidelines in place for your own workplace and keep wearing your mask. My workplace hasn’t relaxed its dress code, but I know I am not wearing much lipstick because my mask is covering half my face. Also, as for buying a bunch of masks to coordinate with clothing, I don’t think that is necessary. I know that I am both enjoying cute masks that loosely coordinate colorwise with what I'm wearing while at the same time hating the fact that it is necessary to wear them at all. I don't know about social distancing outfits. Again, that will take some time and creativity, but hopefully we will be able to put this entire mess behind us sooner. Stay well, everyone!

HELEN’S ANSWER: Most companies will adhere to their former dress codes, and will let their employees know if there is a change in policy. It may be more casual as we transition back to the office. There are some news articles showing how to social distance with umbrellas, or with women wearing very full skirts.

I think more and more stores and online venues are selling masks, and they have been made in all fabric styles. Some masks have pearls, others jewelry or embroidery. The main thing we must remember is that the masks and social distancing are serious business, so be sure the masks cover your face properly and that you stand far enough away so that you, and others, stay well.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Linda Miller, fashion expert and author of “Fashion Matters” Blog: A dress code change is a decision left to your company or management. Certainly more people have gotten used to working from home and perhaps being a bit more casual. Ask a manager or supervisor if you're curious.

For many of us, wearing a mask in public has become routine. Match one to your outfit if it makes you feel good. We need that these days. As for dressing to keep others at a distance, it wouldn't surprise me if someone designed a line of clothing with social distancing in mind. If you're looking for something now, layer a crinoline slip or two under a full dress or skirt. Might be difficult getting in and out of the car, though.

Since 2009 Callie, Lillie-Beth and Helen have written this generational etiquette column. They also include guest responses from a wide range of ages each week. So many years later, Callie is 20-plus; Lillie-Beth, 40-plus and Helen, 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email