Wispy, barely-there garments floated all over recent runways. Sheer black or white blouses over a peekaboo bra, in particular, have been gracing models and socialites.
Transparent fabrics and lingerie, worn as clothing, can look horribly, horribly wrong. They’re two of the trickiest pieces of clothing to wear in a sophisticated fashion, probably falling into the same should-I-or-shouldn’t-I category as crop tops and overalls. It seems that as a general rule, you should keep under-things, underneath.
But there’s a tasteful way to wear sheer tops, and established fashion critics reluctantly agree. There are some good examples about how to wear them elegantly, from Julia Restoin Roitfeld’s loosely scrunched black blouse to model Hye Park’s crisp white top. Saint Laurent’s Spring 2013 ready-to-wear collection outfitted sheer blouses with big, floppy bows and a wide-brimmed hat. Reed Krakoff also played with soft, sheer textures in his spring collection, contrasting nude slipdresses with stiff collars, bustiers and long panels. Of course, it’s nothing new – two years ago, Richard Nicoll did a line of black-trimmed sheer white pieces.
The key to wearing sheer clothing is to balance its natural allure with clean, tailored lines. In other words, it’s already sexy, so don’t veer into vulgarity by revealing even more skin. Tone down the outfit by pairing a translucent garment with something opaque, such as cropped pants, a skirt or a blazer.
The Sheer Blouse with Bra
Pick a sheer blouse in a minimalist shape and a monochrome color, and avoid excessive details, such as frilly cuffs or ruffled collar. Go for a plain, very neutral bra or bandeau. Pair the two top pieces with graphic-patterned pants or tailored menswear-inspired trousers in a slim cut. Tuck the blouse into the pants for a streamlined, polished look. Throw on a sharp blazer to coyly reveal the see-through blouse and bra.
Look for dresses with subtle sheer cutouts, a la Diane Kruger at the Met Gala. Sheer necklines, sleeves and slivers down the gown are a go, if the rest of the body is covered. Alternatively, layer slip dresses over a bustier and long opaque skirt for a hint of sex appeal. Wear minimal jewelry and makeup. — Dominique Fong