Months ago when we first predicted that the sheer maxi dress would become a women’s statement trend, there were many naysayers. Those people thought it implausible that something both see-through and floor-length would enter the everyday wardrobe. But before long the fall 2011 runways joined the party and then more and more sheer dresses and skirts were spotted on the street. No longer just for models and those with Herculean courage, this fusion of sheer clothing and the maxi skirt stays on trend for fall 2011.

And beyond that?

Read on for how to wear it right now, into autumn / fall, and the pieces you’re looking for if you want to wear the look into 2012.

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abbey lee kershaw sheer maxi
Abbey Lee Kershaw photographed by Altamira.

The sheer maxi for autumn / fall ’11

When we first reported of the emergence of this women’s trend, the sheer maxi dress / maxi skirt was rarely seen. How things have changed. The skirts and dresses soon captured the imagination of the fashion forwards everywhere, and when you didn’t see a sheer maxi dress gliding down a fall 2011 runway you saw it on more than a few of the guests inside and the crowds amassed outside.

sheer maxi dress trend
Sheer maxi dress at Max Azria A/W ’11

Autumn / winter catwalks are suitably held in the preceding year’s cold months, and that’s a suitability that showed just how much this women’s fashion statement works to defy practicality and the need for heavy winter fabrics. And from the streets to the catwalk we saw many a way to wear the see-through maxi dress in autumn 2011 and winter 2012:

  • Balance out the cold by pairing it with a warm piece of outerwear – either a cropped jacket or a coat that sits mid-thigh leaving just a train of sheer fabric to spill out from underneath.
  • For a particularly glamorous (or grunge, depending on how you wear it) outerwear option try a fur / faux fur jacket or chubby.
  • Contrast the elegance of the lightweight skirt by paring it down with an oversized parka or knit (a la Max Azria, above).
  • Opt for a heavier, but still see-through, lace version for a unique take.
  • For a 70s fashion revival take go for a full, tiered version with a boho / gypsy feel.

boho sheer maxi dress
Sheer gypsy skirt at Lorella Signorino A/W ’11

The sheer maxi for spring / summer 2011

There are no real rules for wearing a sheer long skirt when the warmer weather hits; the lighter fabric and lighter days make for a natural pairing. What we will say, though, is that indulging in the statement look for spring / summer 2011 is far fresher in white or bright colours. Not only is black a heavy colour for sunny days, but come spring 2012 the black sheer maxi will also be feeling a bit done.

Keep your black for winter, or carry it over by pairing it with fresh summer sandals, pops of colour, or lashings of solid metal jewellery for an evening Goddess look – but if you’re going to invest in a new piece all together for spring you’re best off doing so in breezy white or other spring 2012 colors.

sheer maxi spring
Sheer maxidress for spring: Michael Lo Sordo S/S 11/12

Sheer maxi for the modest

Whether for autumn or for spring, you may still have one question: what to wear underneath?

Yes this trend is for something see-through but that doesn’t mean you have to show off your underwear if that’s out of your comfort zone. You can find plenty of version out there made from semi-sheer fabrics that don’t give everything away. You can also get your hands on a take that’s made from lots of gatherings of sheer fabric, adding volume and thickness to an otherwise see-through skirt. Lastly and most commonly find a sheer maxi with a shorter inbuilt slip (or simply add one underneath).

see through maxi dress
Abbey Lee Kershaw in a sheer maxi dress. Image from Coolhunt.

Styling inspiration for the sheer maxi dress

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