There are fashion risks and there are attention-grabbing games of peekaboo doing the rounds when it comes to this season's sheer trend. But before we get carried away, let's lay down a few important rules. The sheer trend should not be used to shock. It is there to flatter, to allow a flicker of a glimpse of skin. If you have great arms but feel uncomfortable due to a modest dress code, that could mean an elegant sheer sleeve, or if you still have great legs but feel a little out of the age range to wear anything above the knee, that could mean a sheer panel from the knee down.
Sheer is a having a bit of a moment right now, but what we need to remember is that while sheer fashion is fundamentally about showing something off, there needs to be a fair amount of modesty taken into consideration. On the runway it would be difficult to find a designer whose collection didn't feature at least one sheer look. Emilio Pucci created an ethereal layered look while playing with embellishment, and Donna Karan took a similar approach with a selection of elegant dresses rich in detail with the use of sheer panels. Christopher Kane, as always, took a more avant-garde approach with somewhat bizarre sheer rubber separates, while Alice Temperley gave us a more upbeat feminine version.
So how do we wear it well? Most of us don't feel particularly comfortable with total transparency, so rather than going sheer from head-to-toe, go for separates and play with layering. As with satin, sequins or any over-the-top embellishment, sheer clothing needs to be explored with a certain amount of trepidation for daytime. However, executed correctly, it can be an elegant take on the trend. For a more sophisticated daytime look, go for neutral colours such as nudes, pale pinks or off-whites, and use a slip underneath (always try to wear a shade similar to the colour of the sheer garment or closest to your skin tone) or pair it with a nicely fitted blazer. Think clean lines and minimal accessories. Sharp cigarette trousers work perfectly with an off-white sheer chiffon blouse and slip.
Sheer can be for everyone no matter what age and shape. If cutouts are out, illusion necklines, insets at the shoulder or a panel on a full-sleeved shirt will still work beautifully without making you feel overexposed. Another great way to dip into the trend is to go for garments with a sheer trim or sheer insets on a pleated skirt. For eveningwear, the trend has much more room for experimentation. If you opt for a sheer blouse top, layer it on top of coloured statement lingerie for impact or choose delicate fabrics such as lace, tulle and chiffon that work well with the transparent mood.
In short, dangerous is not a word we want to play around with in fashion, so think of the sheer trend as a clever and sophisticated transition into the hot months, instead of plunging head first into clothing with less coverage that can border on wardrobe malfunctions.
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