A dramatic, all-eyes-on-you look always seems to be in order come fall and winter, and while last year we spent months fawning over dazzling metallic numbers, this season we find ourselves head over heels for a more seductive look: sheer black! From subtle, peek-a-boo frocks to brassiere-revealing blouses, these sultry noir pieces are sure to inject your after-hours ensembles with a hint of boudoir-chic and plenty of flirtatious femininity. But, while addressing these transparent pieces may seem easy upon first glance, styling them in a sophisticated way is a whole different story! As such, we've packed this month's Best Of story with seven stylish ladies who have executed this trend brilliantly. So whether you consider yourself a sartorial-risktaker extraordinaire or are simply one who isn't afraid to experiment with a daring look from time to time, we advise you to take detailed notes on today's featured ensembles!
We have to commend Olivia Palermo for the outfit she assembled for the Christian Dior S/S 12 show earlier this month-it's sheer black perfection! The trendsetter wowed onlookers with her unexpected edgy look, which she achieved by wearing a button-up sheer dress with lace sleeves over a delicate slip and with ankle boots (all pieces from Dior's F/W 11 collection). We also applaud her slicked back hair and red lipstick, not to mention her turquoise jewelry-specifically, Bochic's Jagged Treated Jade Celestial Earrings and the Hand Carved Green Jade Bracelet (price upon request for both)-which gave the outfit a high-glam finish. Lucky for you, we've also found some pretty awesome alternatives for Palermo's picks, so be sure to check out ASOS' Oversize Sheer Shirt ($61), Trina Turk's Enamel Brick Bangle ($98) in Turquoise, and Roberta Chiarella's Platinum Coin Cascade Earrings ($38) today.
One of the things we admire about Natasha Poly is her ability to pull off a sensuous, sheer ensemble with ease; she always manages to make it look so effortlessly chic and cool! The stunning model earned a top spot on our Best Of: Sheer Black list when early last month at the Vogue Fashion Celebration night in Paris, she showed up in Givenchy's Black Cropped Pullover Sweatshirt with Chiffon Front ($850, 305.531.4653) and Cotton Velvet Pencil Skirt with Leather Details ($2085,305.531.4653 ). We like that she balanced the revealing top with the skirt's longer hemline, and also approve of the way she gave the edgy separates a hint of femininity with her delicate, lace underpinnings. If Poly's exact top is out of your fall wardrobe budget, we'd like to direct you to Cosabella's Soire Sheer Crewneck Top ($99) in Black, which is sure to produce similarly eye-catching results!
For Rooney Mara, getting into character for her highly-anticipated role in the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo meant-in addition to chopping off all of her hair and dying it black-taking on a tough-girl persona, a choice that has influenced few of her personal style decisions too. For example, we spotted the actress front row at the Rodarte S/S 12 show last month and were immediately intrigued by her nearly all-black ensemble, which was comprised of a Rodarte knit shrug, sheer button-up shirt, black skinny jeans, and taupe H&M pumps. The textured top layer covers up most of the see-through blouse, resulting in a look that is more downtown cool than overtly sexy. And fortunately for you, dear readers, achieving a similar look is cinch! All you need is a sheer button-up-either American Apparel's Chiffon Oversized Button Up ($58) or Equipment's Silk Chiffon Shirt ($160) should do-then add a knit sweater, like Topshop's Knitted Short Cable Cardigan ($84) or Mossimo's Cocoon Pointelle Cardigan ($25), and voila! Your Mara-inspired ensemble is complete!
Julia Restoin Roitfeld
While the thought of a sheer sweatshirt has never sounded really appealing, leave it to Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci to quickly change our minds! We swooned for the Black Pullover Sweatshirt with Chiffon Front and Scarf Print ($850, available at select Barneys New York stores) when it first came down the runway, and of course, fell in love all over again when we came across Julia Restoin Roitfeld wearing it at the Parisian fashion house's S/S 12 show earlier this month. While the purple orchid print brings a softness and femininity to the black-on-black look, the patent bra further emphasizes the come-hither spirit of the transparent crewneck, resulting in a perfectly balanced evening ensemble. If you find yourself obsessing over this look too, simply pick up Alexander Wang's Sheer Knit Sweatshirt ($480) and pair it with Vince's Pencil Skirt ($256) or Ann Taylor's Seamless Ponte Pencil Skirt ($88) for an evening look that will have people saying oh la la.
We're starting to develop a serious girl crush on Amber Atherton, but can you blame us? The model/blogger/founder of cult jewelry boutique MyFlashTrash.com clearly has style in spades, which is routinely demonstrated in her flawless executions of the latest trends. Case in point: the look she put together for an AllSaints party in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month in England a few weeks ago. Atherton selected a sheer black dress from The Lazy Ones boutique in England, which she styled with a thick Sado belt, Topshop heels and a necklace from her jewelry site for a tastefully chic and on-point interpretation of the trend. If you like her look you must check out Shakuhachi's Paneled Lace Chiffon Maxi Dress ($310) and Pixie Market's Long Black Knit Dress ($149); either option would surely make for an equally enviable ensemble.
As Carine Roitfeld so aptly demonstrated at the Christian Dior S/S 12 show earlier this month, the only thing better than one sheer black piece is two! The industry insider created a nuanced ensemble by expertly layering a basic sheer top over a mesh tank dress. To complete the look, she accessorized with layered gold necklaces, oversized sunglasses, and Alaia strappy heels. To construct a look-a-like ensemble, we recommend checking out ASOS' 20s Dress with Cutaway Hem ($131) or pick up Nanette Lepore's Ambrosia Lace Dress ($428) and add Richard Nicoll's Semi-Sheer Blouse ($190) over it.
For those seeking a "less is more" approach when it comes to the sheer aspect of this trend, consider Felicity Jones your guide. The British actress looked ravishing at the London Film Festival Premiere of Like Crazy in a vintage, mixed-lace frock and Brian Atwood heels. The intricately detailed dress shows just the right amount of skin around the neckline and midriff, making it a fitting choice for red-carpet events and holiday soirees alike! Sheer-black novices should definitely try Jessica Simpson's Sheer Bodice Taffeta Dress ($148) or Adam's Asymmetrical Chiffon Dress ($177) to create a likeminded, ladylike look.-Jessica Baker
Photos of Natasha Poly, Amber Atherton, Carine Roitfeld, Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Felicity Jones, and Olivia Palermo, courtesy of Getty.