How to wear the sheer trend - at any age

Gwneth, Victoria and Katie tackle the sheer trend in their 40s
Gwneth, Victoria and Katie tackle the sheer trend in their 40s

Sheer is one of those trends that comes around so often, it's more of a staple - especially at this time of year, when it comes into its own as a partywear perennial. Despite that, it's not one that I would usually recommend touching, bargepole or no. After all, the space-bopper headband is a partywear perennial too, and it's the height of novelty naffness. 

Look for sheer anything on the red carpet, and you'll find it worn by the very young (and usually very slim). A visible bra under a sheer top - or, even more risque, visible bra and knickers under a sheer dress - is too obviously sexy to look chic. Or so you'd think.

But applied sparingly (in the form of a sheer blouse) and styled just so, sheer offers a fresh update to the old party dressing tropes. And if you think you're too old for it, look at three of the latest adopters of the trend: Gwyneth Paltrow, Katie Holmes and Victoria Beckham - all women in their 40s. Here's how to get it right.

The shape

The shape to pick will depend on what best suits your figure, but there is one constant - a high neckline is crucial, since transparent + low cut = overkill. Equally, a loose fit is key - considering buying your blouse one size up. Ruching or pleats from the collar - see VB's blouse - will create elongating (and flattering) vertical lines. Katie Holmes' scarf-tie collar offers a layer of extra fabric that drapes over cleavage and stomach for a bit more coverage. 

Katie Holmes wearing a sheer blouse with high-waisted black trousers Credit: Getty

The colour

Keep it simple. A wash of sheer colour is tricky to wear - it could make the skin underneath look sallow/sunburned/washed-out. Stick to classic black or, at a stretch, navy.

The print

Even when the fabric is sheer, a print will break up a block of colour and draw the eye away from what's underneath - in this case, lots of bare skin. Both Gwyneth Paltrow (wearing a blouse from Goop's G.Label, £395) and Katie Holmes have opted for subtle polka-dotted blouses. The bolder the print, the more it will obscure what lies beneath. 

Gwyneth Paltrow wearing Goop's G.Label

The underpinnings

Your bra should be a substantial one, and minimal in design - a pretty sports bra could even work. Avoid anything transparent, lacy or overly frilly: your sheer blouse is enough of a statement. Or layer a simply black camisole top underneath your blouse to cover your stomach (in my opinion, the scariest bit of the sheer blouse trend). Whatever you layer underneath, stick to classic black. 

Victoria Beckham paired her sheer blouse with jeans Credit: Getty

The outfit

All three of these intrepid 40-somethings have paired their sheer blouses with high-waisted bottom halves. Holmes' tailored trousers are great for a smart event, as is Paltrow's simple A-line black skirt. But my pick of the bunch would be Beckham's high-rise jeans, since the casual denim fabric balances out the dressiness of the top. And don't forget your coat - chic these sheer blouses might be, but warm they are not.

Three of the best 

Tie front, £215, MaisonCleo at Net-A-Porter; tiered, £165, Needle & Thread; Polka dot, £25.99, Zara

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