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The truth about sheer dressing is that it doesn’t have to mean baring it all, all at once. “There are so many ways to manipulate a sheer piece and have it show enough skin and still feel covered,” explains New York designer—and master of ladylike chic—Nanette Lepore. Some of the hottest looks from the Spring 2014 runways are billowing sheer slip dresses and dainty head-to-toe lace outfits, and designers are finding ways to translate see-through pieces into everyday wear—while still maintaining the delicate sophistication inherent to the look.
“We strategically put enough embroidery over the model’s bust so she didn’t have to put something on under it,” offers Lepore. Here, she shares her expert insight on how to wear sheer like a lady.
How to wear sheer fashion: Ease into it
“Start with just a camisole, and let it be a contrasting colour,” says Lepore. She suggests that women invest in a few beautiful lightweight silk and jersey tank tops to wear with sheer pieces when trying out the trend. “It still has the very delicate kind of ethereal effect.” For instance, the pastel blue blouse from her Spring 2014 collection—worn bare on the runway—shipped to stores together with a nude-coloured satin cami. “It didn’t feel like you killed all the sheerness,” she says.
How to wear sheer fashion: Invest in proper undergarments
Depending on the where the sheer overlay or cutout falls on your body, have an assortment of slips and bras to see what works best with the piece—Lepore suggests investing in a mini half-slip in both nude and black to wear under most dresses. “I have a few eyelet dresses in the summer that I’ll take away the slip and wear a half-slip under that,” she says. “And then you have the sheerness that happens from the cutouts.”
For a resort-inspired flair, try a pair of shorts under a flowing chiffon dress instead of a slip. “I love that look,” says Lepore, a proponent of the style herself. “Or I’ll wear longer bra and a pair of shorts under a sheer dress—I feel that it looks really fresh.”
More ways to wear sheer on the next page...
How to wear sheer fashion: Try a high-low look
Balance out the inherent softness and femininity of this look with sportswear-reminiscent pieces. For a playful twist, try a sheer top that has a lot of open spaces worn with a white tank top under it and your favourite pair of denim. Lepore also proposes that the same top “looks great with nothing under it.” Your move. Just always consider the atmosphere—mainly, sunlight—and dress accordingly when wearing sheer. “You wouldn’t want to be in in the middle of the day in something like that!”
Lepore recalls an edgier streetstyle sheer look seen on a blogger wearing one of her white lace tops and a Nike sports bra underneath. “You can play up that sort of cropped feeling,” she says. Try midriff bra or bandeau under a sheer top and pair with a high-waisted pant. “There are a lot of fun pieces out there right now that people are making for layering.”
REFINED SPORTY: Top Spring 2014 fashion trend
How to wear sheer fashion: Take it to the office—no, seriously
“I think under a jacket you could get away with more,” Lepore affirms. “If you’ve got a jacket over it—and a skimpy tank under, I think you could definitely wear it to work.” Of course, there are exceptions when it comes to pulling off barely there sheer or lace blouses with the 9-to-5 set. “It should be job appropriate, not everybody could get away with that.”
How to wear sheer fashion: Play with layers
The same way you would layer pants under a sheer skirt, pair leggings underneath a sheer wide pant. “So you get that sheer [effect], but you still feel covered,” says Lepore. Try layering an oversized V-neck over a delicate sheer blouse. That way, “You can still get the prettiness in the neckline,” she adds.
Don’t be afraid of playing around with various cuts and lengths for the pieces worn underneath. For an open-back dress, “Just get a form-fitting low-cut back T-shirt to wear under some of the sheer pieces,” she says. “Then your whole back [is revealed] under the sheer, which is a really sexy look.”