This Controversial Trend Is Every Trendsetter's Summer Go-To

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Sisilia Piring wearing a soft pink sheer dress with puffed sleeves and with matching cap

Naked dressing has been a thing for decades. Think: Kate Moss in a transparent metallic slip at an early-‘90s fashion party Rihanna in a bedazzled mesh Adam Selman gown at the CFDA Awards. Still, the look remains a daunting one to try IRL. No matter how popular the see-through trend has become, it still feels risky to go out in public with your undergarments (if even that) entirely exposed. Navigating how to wear sheer clothes without the anxiety is possible though. it’s a matter of finding that delicate balance between chic, fashion-forward elements and boudoir-inspired sensuality.

Instead of jumping in the deep end, wade into the trend by incorporating individual sheer pieces into your wardrobe rotation. Try a floaty organza blouse, which goes just as well with worn-in jeans and flats as an elegant skirt and kitten heels. Or, vary your vibe with other see-through textiles like printed or bold-colored mesh and gossamer chiffon — the former is good for a sporty ‘90s vibe, the latter a feminine, romantic aesthetic.

Sheer becomes even more wearable when you make use of strategic layering. It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase your prettiest lingerie. For a more casual look, a cropped camisole or a sports bra and briefs or bike shorts set are ideal. And wearing solid pieces over see-through ones can further open up the possibilities for creative outfit combinations. Just take a peek at the below examples for inspiration on all the ways you can do sheer like it’s NBD.

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How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Keep It Classic

Starter-level sheer is easiest to tackle when you opt for classic pieces in a minimalist color palette. A see-through black button-down layered over a basic black triangle bra and paired with elegant white trousers is a combination that's as sophisticated as it is simple.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Sporty + See-Through

For a style statement that's equal parts girly-girl and tomboyish, wear a supremely romantic organza dress — voluminous sleeves and ruffles are a must — over an athletic bra-and-bike-shorts set, accessorized with a baseball cap and sporty sandals or sneakers.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Overalls + Sheer Top

Going sheer becomes way less daunting when you're wearing something over the transparent piece in question. Bib overalls provide frontal coverage to a see-through blouse for a tamer take on the trend, but that also makes it easier to go braless in a sheer blouse if you want to test those waters without fully freeing the nipple.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Blazer On Top

Another way to maintain the nakedness of a see-through top without fully exposing anything is to wear it underneath a blazer. For a summer-ready ensemble, try a mesh tank sans bra with a lightweight linen blazer — button it if you're nervous about slippage — and trouser shorts.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Sheer Layers

You can do sheer as outerwear too. An organza trench is perfect for showing off your ensemble underneath, and it won't weigh you down with too much bulk. Plus, it can double as a cover-up for beach days.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Floaty Puff Sleeves + Lace

A little bit sweet, a little bit sexy — that's the goal with this combination. Opt for a feminine puff-sleeved blouse and underneath it a lace bra in an intentionally contrasting hue so it stands out.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Show-Off + Socks

Transparent technical-wear accomplishes the desired aesthetic in an unfussy, semi-sporty manner. For a sheer detail that anyone can pull off, try finishing the look with logo-emblazoned nylon knee socks and some streamlined heels for a sleek, modern ensemble.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Dress + Bodysuit

For those days when you can't decide if your mood is more tough girl or boudoir, why not do both? An edgy leather moto jacket and skater-chick sneakers can easily be layered over a lacy lingerie-inspired slip + bodysuit look.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Open Weave

Open-weave mesh and crochet are a superbly summery way to show a little more skin, not to mention entirely on trend. Embrace those sporty and relaxed beach vibes in a nude crochet knit — either with strategically positioned stitch patterns or over a barely-visible flesh-toned bra.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Dress Over Pants

If you find yourself drawing a blank when you look at a gauzy floral frock, consider layering it over a cropped camisole and your favorite denim for an outfit that's unexpected but still comfortably casual and entirely effortless.

Sleepwear For Day

Take the sheer theme to delightfully retro territory by pairing a vintage-appointed peignoir or bed jacket with a frilly bralette and high-waist bottoms in a suitably '50s-esque pastel gingham check or try a soft cotton slip dress or cozy robe style.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Neutral Layers

More and more, the humble brief-and-bralette set is being deemed a totally acceptable base layer for public wear beneath your see-through dress or skirt of choice. But, if you aren't quite ready to reveal your underthings, try layering a long top over your sheer skirt for extra coverage.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Color Contrast

Instead of piling on layers, create a dynamic, balanced ensemble even for a simple day at the beach. Bold hues — be it underwear or a swimsuit — make for perfect elements to lend some substance and contrast to a nude chiffon blouse.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: Modern Netting

The beach is one place you can test-drive fully see-through styles without any hesitation or fear. A rhinestone-embellished net dress feels like an appropriately mermaid-worthy place to start your sheer-by-the-sea experiment. Wear it over your swimsuit as a coverup while you're at the shore, then just add a flowy maxi skirt or palazzo pants when you're ready to move to the streets.

How To Wear Sheer Clothes: '90s-Inspired

Channel Cher from Clueless or Rachel Green from Friends as you throw it back to everyone's favorite decade in a long-sleeved stretchy mesh column dress. (Layer over a mini slipdress if it doesn't come with one already attached.) Finish the look with some appropriately '90s-era shoes, like square-toe sandals or some chunky platforms.

This post was originally published Jul. 11, 2019

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