Over the last couple of years, I've blogged a few times about what I believe to be professional office appropriate style, and whilst I'm well aware that I'm no reference in the topic (I do sometimes err on the side of complete fantasy when it comes to my own office fashion, much to the amusement of some of my colleagues...), lately I've been seeing some things in the streets around my office which have made me take to my keyboard and write a few style notes, all dedicated to office style.
For your consideration today is the question of sheer, transparency, see-through... If you follow the fashion catwalks, you'll have noticed that fashion designers across the board, from Valentino to Stella McCartney to Topshop, have decided we are to be brave and bare (almost) all. Obviously that's easy if your office is the red carpet (yes, Jennifer Lopez at the Golden Globes 2013, I'm looking at you), but if your usual job location is of a more mundane category, this is a trend to approach with as much caution and care as you'd need to prepare the IPO of a Spanish real estate developer, beginners beware!
At lunchtime today, I did come across one such beginner. Said young lady was wearing an inoccuous enough skirt, topped up with a sheer cream blouse, giving a perfectly undisturbed view of her rather plain beige bra. What not to do, 101... So many things are wrong with that look, where do I start? Too much sheer, too much beige bra, too little sit-ups is all I'll say about that situation.
The thing is, if you want to try sheer in the office, the best way to start is probably a blouse, so that girl at least had that part right. But please, try to add a camisole underneath (leave the super glam fushia lace bra to off-duty outings please), you can go for same colour for a streamlined look or a pop of contrasting colour if you feel emboldened and, most importantly, if your boss isn't of the school of strict business attire... in which case you should probably just give the whole look a miss. You can also rock this in a skirt or a dress, by keeping the sheer to small panels (close to the hem, around the shoulders, the sleeves, but please, whatever you do, not around the midrif). One rule I go by, with this trend and every other: if people can see your panties, you're doing it wrong, so obviously sheer trousers leave me a bit cold, no pun intended.
Not bold enough to try sheer clothing? You could try accessories, shoes with mesh panelling can be pretty or fierce, but always treat them like sandals, which means your tippy toes need to be pedicured within a millimetre of their lives. You can easily pair them with a classic shift dress and still look super polished (I'm still undecided about clear plastic shoes, I don't know if they are genius or just expensive jelly sandals, I'm thinking the latter). That, or you could go for a handbag, but please try to steer away from the plastic bags, no matter how expensive they are they still remind me of airport-approved toiletry bags. Best attempt the look with some of the more luxurious-looking laser cut leather purses.
So, to keep it short, my verdict is, you can definitely work sheer in the office, you just have to pick carefully, a little transparency and disclosure is nice, but remember, this is no due diligence session, so leave a little (a lot!) to the imagination...