I’ve just bought a sheer mesh dress as I love the trend for spring, but have no clue what to wear underneath it! Finding something that’s appropriate, goes with the outfit and brings it all together (rather than ruining it) is a nightmare. I’m not brave enough to bare all, so what options do I have?Abi from Bromley
Do not worry – you’re not alone in the sheer-clothing underwear dilemma. Yes, A-list celebs make it look easy and this year, sheer dresses have become the go-to for red-carpet statement dressing. The likes of Emily Ratajkowski, Lady Gaga and Rihanna all opted for sheer looks that needed some precision engineering when it came to underwear choices (or lack of). Not that they would have had to make those decisions – they’re lucky enough to have custom-made outfits and stylists on hand to help with any unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions.
But for those of us that don’t have these perks, remember this: sheer doesn’t have to mean naked, and it doesn’t have to be daunting. You can still wear tulle, crochet and mesh, enjoying the season’s most playful trend, while choosing what to reveal and what to keep covered.
Real life isn’t always a red carpet, so finding something appropriate is important, whilst making sure your outfit still looks as good as it can. Especially when you can turn to some of the lingerie brands we’re loving, that make beautiful, affordable underwear.
Sure, when you’re on your summer holiday you can wear a bikini or swimsuit underneath a crochet or mesh dress and anything goes, but back home, the rules aren’t so clear. It’s all about finding underwear that enhances the look, rather than detracts. You want to be super-confident, comfortable and know that you can rely on your entire outfit – undergarments and all.
We’ve all seen the Y2K corsets, the mesh mini tees, and barely-there dresses, and of course some people will be fully on board with a no-bra situation and I applaud you. But for those of us who aren’t maybe as confident, and need a bit of support (both in the bra department and mental encouragement!), here are some underwear solutions that mean you can rock the sheer trend to every party you’re invited to.
Where to start
Key things to consider when finding the right underwear are colour palettes, fabrics and fit. You might already have great bras for wearing every day, but bras that’ll actually be seen for wearing under sheer clothing require some extra thought.
First, will you go for coordinated separates, or a one-piece bodysuit or a slip dress? Next up, make sure the underwear you choose complements the colours of your outfit. If you’re going for a sportier or more minimalist look, stick to a solid block colour, and if in doubt, turn to black or white. Matching crop tops and high-waisted pants are go-tos, as they’ll look co-ordinated and purposeful, as well as giving you enough support.
Alternatively, if your top layer has a pretty, floaty feel to it, such as a tulle blouse or cardigan, you might experiment with softer layers underneath, such as silk, mesh or embroidered bralettes. Don’t be afraid to flash some skin and have a cheekier reveal.
Whether your top layer is tight or loose, you’ll then want to look at the fit of your underwear and ensure it’s perfectly figure-hugging. You don’t want awkward bunching up that will detract from the top layer of clothing. Personally, I would choose seamless finishes over and above any ribbed bras.
An entry into the sheer trend is a mesh top, whether you match with coordinated trousers and skirts or keep the look more low-key with jeans and mules for a bottomless brunch. Or, you could go for an open knit jumper if you’re feeling a little shy and want a looser fit.
Fitted crop tops, bandeaus, and bandeau bodysuits work really well with both of these options, as well as simple no-fuss triangle bras, depending on how much coverage you’d like. The Skims bandeau bra comes in lots of different shades, so it’s a good one to look at if you’re after a colour-clash or matching bra.
Tummy-baring tie-up cardigans are having a moment. But we’ve moved on from 2019 and the famous Katie Holmes matching bra and cardi combo, and so knitted bras are no longer the match for this year’s sheer trend. Turn to triangle bras, bralettes and half-cup bras in silks or lace instead. If you can get away with a thinner bra band and larger gap between the two cups, then the bra will be even more subtle.
See-through shirts & blouses
A slightly more grown-up take on the sheer trend is a shirt or blouse. From ruffles to lace, in citrus and bold shades that are perfect for parties. You’ve got a choice here whether you’d like to show off your bra or opt for something discrete. Either way, styles like these will feel part of your outfit, rather than an unwanted distraction.
Organza tops tend to be less figure-hugging and are all about creating shapes instead, particularly with a puff sleeve, so you might not need to worry so much about bra seams and shapes. The important thing to think about here is the colour of your bra underneath and to make sure it looks great with the colour of the top.
You have a few options for what to wear under a mesh dress, but I’ve narrowed it down to matching separates, a body, or a slip dress. Again, your safest bet is to make sure everything looks completely intentional, depending on how much skin you’re happy to show.
For slip dresses, for example, it’s good to avoid any styles that look too much like a nightdress. Instead, go for simple, figure-hugging, block-colour styles. Similarly for bodies – lingerie styles with too much lace or pattern may detract from the dress on top, depending on the look you’re going for, so I’ve included the sleekest styles I could find.
If you’ve picked out a tulle, mesh or crochet skirt to rock this summer, then you might be happy wearing a body or high-waisted pants, but for extra coverage, you can also buy subtle slip skirts.
Mini dresses are back and if you’re jetting off on your summer holiday soon, you might have been tempted by one of the ultra-mini, ultra-low-back slinky styles. If you’re not comfortable going braless, here are a few that would look just as great underneath.