Sheer dresses and designer looks



Now I have started to research how to use translucent fabrics, I realise that “sheer” looks are all the rage. With these four ensembles I can see six nipples and at least two pairs of knickers (underpants).

I am not sure this is what I had in mind.

In fact when I started to plan an item in translucent fabric I imagined something rather subtle and ethereal, not something slightly indecent. It seems that, as a minor celebrity, in order to get your name in the paper, you must  wear an outrageous outfit. This means reaching for something see-through, which nevertheless has a semblance of “evening wear” about it; concoctions with lots of sheer, plenty of stretch, and reels of tape, unusual brassieres (or not) and a certain type of exhibitionism.

To remain “famous” you must be photographed, published and discussed. If a good body is part of your pitch you may need to display it. But I find this sort of stuff very uncool and way too obvious. Somehow the 1960s versions were fun and a little shocking – here are two from Courreges. It is interesting to see very revealing dresses which really rebelled against current fashion codes, were exhibited on a gamine, youthful (flat-chested) model with boyish hair, and flat shoes.

These up to the minute, and in your face, versions strike me as a bit desperate. For some reason I find the thigh shots the most unappealing – they just look wrong as this areas is not normally one we look at – even at the pool.

What do you think?

Is “sheer” a trend you have adopted? If so is there a way of using it in a subtle and attractive way?

16 Responses

  1. Sew Ruthie

    Ugh I have to agree that its not appealing at all.
    what seems to work are something solid with a sheer overshirt – e.g. a solid fitted dress with a sheer blouse worn belted over the top, that same blouse could be worn over a sleeveless t shirt and jeans at the weekend.
    If you are going for something more evening/dressy then I would think either a sheer overlay on a solid base, or some sheer components, the most elegant seem to be at the neck and particularly sheer sleeves. Perhaps look at designer evening and wedding gowns for ideas of a classy way to do the trend.

  2. Esme

    Rihanna looks AMAZING! The others, no. The 60’s ones are even more revealing, and you wouldn’t wear them if there was a wind!

  3. Demented Fairy

    I’m with Ruth on this- I think they all look, as you said, tacky and desperate. Publicity is all, and paparazzi pics of ‘celebs’ in a bikini no longer titillate enough. And so, they all go to bi ‘swanky’ events, looking like they should be hanging about on a street corner. Yuk. However, sheer/translucent fabrics look amazing layered, and using different colours/textures layered together is even more so. Various layers of sheer white can look amazingly classy and rather origami-ish, maybe that’s what you should play with? StyleArc recently put out one of their ‘designer’ patterns using a sheer:

  4. Stephanie

    Yeah, well, being a girl who wears button-up shirts and trousers for the most part, the full thigh exposure thing is definitely not my look. I saw a girl last night on a walk who was wearing what looked like a cotton dress with some kind of a jacquard print on it (it was white, with medallions in the texture), with a sheer underlay at the very bottom, for maybe three inches. It certainly wasn’t immodest and it was cute, although it didn’t seem particularly practical.

    The only time I’ve worn sheer is on a cream-coloured top that I had in the 1990s. It had sheer sleeves (easy to wear, as Ruthie suggests) and a fitted, buttoned bodice in an opaque fabric. I thought it was cute at the time.

  5. Hila

    It reminds me of The Emperor’s New Clothes. I am not sure that when they get dressed and ask ‘do I look ok?’ they are told the truth. I think sheer can be nice especially in floaty dresses.

  6. Lynn Mally

    Well, I don’t really sew with sheers at all. But I have used slightly translucent silk in the following way. I line the front and back of a shirt (either with the silk itself or another lightweight fabric) and use the translucent fabric for the sleeves.

  7. Jay

    I could write an essay on how women are conned into taking the role of public commodity, but I’ll just leave it at ’embarassing’.

  8. Kathy

    i like to make floaty tees out of knits with a subtle burnout design and wear them over similar-toned camis. Also, loose sheer shirts over camis are cool and wearable even over jeans. And I’m older and not skinny! I think you can look classy and stylish and still modest!!!

  9. Jennifer

    Funny, nobody has called upon me to model one of those sheer concoctions? I looked up the Style Arc that Demented Fairy mentioned and that is actually pretty nice. And the lumps and bumps would be nicely hidden away.

  10. Mary Funt

    I do sheer a lot. It’s a wonderfully soft and drapey look but needs linings or nude color slip lining to look decent. The first group of photos are runway looks. There is a wonderful documentary on utube: The Secret World of Haute Couture. One of the couture clients makes the point that “what you see on the runway is never what is worn in real life. The designs are modified to make them wearable.” I think any of these outfits could be made wearable by adding a lining, nude or color matched. At a recent awards event, Sandra Bullock’s stylist had a nude lining added to Sandra’s dress in order not to expose an indecent amount of skin. The sheer white blouse would look lovely over a white tank top.
    The last group of photos are totally indecent and I wonder who dressed them! Even the slim bodies don’t look good.

  11. Kim Hood

    Used in the way of the more recent pictures sheer is a means of ensuring column inches, not always in a good way. It can look beautiful ( the recent YSL exhibition showed me that) but it isn’t a look I would use myself.

  12. Sweaty Knitter

    I’m with the “desperate and trashy” crowd. Why bother wearing any clothing at that point? Probably it just wouldn’t seem “sexy” but, instead, openly desperate.

  13. Lesley

    Only yesterday I saw a fabulous box pleated skirt on TV (as I was fuseing large numbers of pattern pieces!), I rewound 3 times! The skirt was light coloured and for all intents and purposes looked like a preppy ‘boating’ skirt – is there such a thing?! But then there was a navy contrast band like a stripe, actually there were 2 horizontal stripes and they were sheer. I loved it and could imagine Princess floating along in it. I think its an interesting way to add movement to what would otherwise be quite static and heavy. Seeing the legs move within the skirt might be a welcome relief to observing other body parts?

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