Sheer Dress

Layer it over denim for a summery look.

A sheer dress may seem a bit risqué at first, but with a bit of ingenuity it can easily be one of the most-used garments in your wardrobe. That's because it offers so much potential! Sheer garments in general don't necessarily need to equate with racy, inappropriate everyday clothing - on the contrary, they add a fun element to any wardrobe and can make a hot summer day much more tolerable.

Do It Right

Sheer dresses can be gorgeous - or they can present women with the opportunity to make the worst fashion decision of their lives. Ask Gwyneth Paltrow, Kirsten Dunst and Rihanna, just to name a few who have enjoyed the dubious distinction of revealing just a bit too much in their sheer dresses. Clearly, it's how it's worn that makes all the difference. The key is to treat sheer fabric as a complement to an overall look, not as the star of the show. Doing it right will instantly lend your ensemble a ladylike, chic look that no one could ever deem a mistake!

Sheer Dress Tips

The type of sheer dress you plan to wear is important. Many lingerie stores carry completely sheer negligees - these certainly have their time and place, but they obviously aren't everyday appropriate. Fortunately, there are sheer dresses designed with modesty in mind - no peep shows here, folks! Follow these tips and you'll look stunning.

  • Try a feminine, vintage style sheer slip and throw it on over a solid dress, keeping everything in roughly the same color family. If you opt for contrasts, try something that translates well: gray over black or cream over pink are fantastic choices that will lend your look a romantic vibe.
  • Or visit the cutting edge of fashion and try a loose, airy, open tunic with a tie at the waist. Wear it over a solid, slightly longer dress for an ethereal look that's sure to turn heads. A pair of heels will complete the look nicely.
  • Don't go the form-fitting route. This serves a double purpose. Figure-hugging dresses are simply not forgiving, so you can bet every single lump and bump will make an unwelcome appearance; and looser sheer dresses simply provide you with more layering options and look infinitely more becoming on all types of figures.
  • If you really love your sheer dress but don't really want to layer it over anything, have it professionally lined by a seamstress or tailor. This creates a veiled effect that looks dressy and elegant - and it will allow you to pull off that sheer dress without having to worry about to wear it on top of. Just throw it on and go.
  • Wear it as you would a carefree tunic. Slip it on over a light tank top and jeans for the ultimate casual look. This is an ideal spring uniform - it's more intriguing than a t-shirt and it looks ladylike and pulled together.

How to Shop Sheer

At the risk of sharing just a bit too much in your sheer garment, you might consider shopping around for different types of dresses, too. Sheer doesn't have to mean that your garment is see-through from top to bottom. In fact, a mere suggestion of transparency is far sexier and classic than complete exposure. Try any of these sheer styles to ramp up your sheer dress's potential:

  • Sheer backs: A black dress with a sheer back is a glamorous choice for a dressy affair. You'll need to wear this with a backless bra.
  • Sheer midriffs: While it's rather Paula Abdul circa 1990, there's something eternally enchanting about this look when it's done right. A long gown adorned with beading or other embellishments will strike the right balance against a sheer midriff, particularly if the fabric is dark. This look is dramatic and best left for an evening out.
  • Sheer sleeves: In this look, the sheer arm will reveal some skin while the rest of the dress is solid. This balance works well and renders the dress suitable for day or evening wear. Consider embroidered lace sleeves for an elegant evening look.
  • Sheer skirt: There's nothing quite as fun as a sheer skirt - within reason, of course. A dress with a sheer skirt can be a little suggestive, a little edgy or completely innocent and sweet. A sheer organza lining, for example, will fall slightly lower than the hem of the dress and reveal a bit of skin. Lace insets or panels along the edge of the skirt may reveal a bit more leg, but in a very modest way.
Sheer Dress