Posts Categorized: reader requests

Reader Request: Styling Sheer Fabrics

Lovely reader Holly e-mailed me this question:

I am obsessed with sheer blouses. Your post about “Dressing Our Imaginary Selves” made me realize that sheer blouses are my thing. I am drawn to them, but I don’t know how to wear them. I would love advice on how to wear them professionally and somewhat modestly (I’m fine with a tank underneath, but no bra or navel-showage please!). Do you tuck them? Leave them flowy? Wear with pants? Skirts? Under a sweater or blazer? What do I do with them? I especially love white and cream-colored sheer blouses, and find them harder to style than colored sheers.

Above you see me in my single sheer item, so I just barely feel qualified to comment! I’ll give my input – based on my observations and work with clients – and then turn to you readers for more tips and suggestions.

sheer blouse rules

The visible bra isn’t terribly taboo in France and other parts of Europe, I’m told, and here in the U.S. we’re warming up to the idea. Gradually. But in a professional or office environment? No chance. A sheer blouse should be worn with an opaque underlayer, even if the sheer blouse is just peeking out from under a blazer or jacket. A bralette or half tank is not enough, as you want to cover your torso and navel, too. For sheer tops worn alone, my eye prefers a tank or cami with straps wide enough to cover your bra straps since a big tangle of skinny straps occurs otherwise. Tucking the tank into your skirt or pants works well if both pieces are the same or similar in color, as this creates a column of color and allows the blouse to shine.

In terms of tank/underlayer color, you’ll likely be able to eyeball your best options. Although nude camis and tanks are often recommended for blouses that are accidentally sheer, in the case of a blouse that has intentional sheerness as part of its design, you might opt for contrast instead. But it doesn’t always work well.

sheer blouse layering

The safest bet is to utilize a tank that is the same color as the blouse. Black tank, black sheer blouse, great pairing. White tank and white sheer blouse can look very chic and artistic, too, though you want to do this only when it’s pretty clear that the blouse’s sheerness is intentional. Using a white tank for everything won’t work well, as you can see in the white tank/turquoise blouse example above: The white looks blocky and unintentional, creating more contrast than is ideal for the pairing. A matching tank or a tank in a complementary shade of blue would’ve worked better. Layering a sheer color over another color can be a great way to create gorgeous, rich looks. Harmonious contrast can be created with similar colors or shades that play well together, as well as layering a solid sheer over a pattern.

As you can see, most of these examples show sheer tops being worn untucked and their underlayers untucked as well. But the white-on-white example shows how length discrepancies can make the untucked look seem a bit odd. When untucked, you ideally want your tank and blouse to be the same length, or your tank and skirt/pants to be the same color to create the column referenced above. Since tucking your blouse into a skirt often creates great proportions, tucking when wearing with a skirt will work well for many. But it’s really down to personal preference, as is your choice to go with a skirt or trousers.

Sheers can certainly be layered under sweaters or blazers, but their sheerness will be mostly masked. If you want just a tiny hint of sheerness at the collar and cuffs, this is a great option. To showcase more, do your sheer/tank combo on its own.

Now, if you work in a law office, conservative corporate environment, or other workplace that has fairly strict and modest dress codes, sheers are a risk. They can certainly be done tastefully, but are still a little more revealing than opaques by their very nature. If you aren’t sure how sheers will fly at your office, ask your HR rep or boss before wearing. Better safe than sorry.

And that’s all I’ve got! You fans of sheers: What else would you add? How do you wear and layer your sheers? Do they work at your workplace? Anyone sporting the visible bra look? How do you deal with length discrepancies? Let us know!

Images courtesy ASOS, Nordstrom, Nordstrom

Grid: Nordstrom (black), Nordstrom (white), Nordstrom (turquoise), Nordstrom (navy)

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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Reader Request: Long Over Lean for Petites

Fabulous reader Emily – who I was lucky enough to meet and chat with when I was in New York last summer – e-mailed me a while back asking about making the long-over-lean formula work on a petite frame.

Lately, all I want to wear are leggings and longer things on top – which I realized is: Sally’s Long-Over-Lean formula. Thing is: I own 1 pair of ponte pants, 1 pair of cheap leggings, and 1 pair of sort-of-skinny jeans. I’m 4′ 11″ as you might remember. I carry my weight in the belly. Literally in the belly, as in, could be 5 months pregnant all the time (I ain’t). Clearly if I want to make this happen as My Look, I need more leggings. And more long swinging / pooch-hiding sweaters. BUT!!!!! (Here’s my question): DO I want to make this happen as My Look? I’m short. If I wear a long sweater on top, I think I go 50%-50% in terms of body division. Not the Golden Mean by any stretch.

Emily was kind enough to let me use some of the photos she sent along to me in hopes of helping others struggling with the same questions. So here’s what I told her:

The thing about the Rule of Thirds is that you can totally forget about it absolutely whenever you want to. If this is what you want to wear – tunics and leggings in various combinations – and you feel comfy and fabulous and like yourself wearing those items, then you absolutely should. Rules be damned! Now if you’d like some middle ground – if you want to make the long-over-lean look work and incorporate a couple of traditional figure flattery maxims – here are a few things you can try:


Visually elongate your legs

Try wearing like-colored leggings and boots. I say boots because even a little peek of ankle breaks up the leg line. Boots that are the same or close to the color of your leggings – even like-colored ankle boots – would be super. And they can be flat! Visually elongating your leg line by wearing similarly colored leggings and shoes will help this look feel more balanced.

Be strategic about focus

Take charge of where the observing eye lands. In the gray tunic/black leggings outfit, Emily is divided just about in half and where those two pieces meet is a high contrast break. The eye goes right there. She could draw the eye upward and break up her figure a bit by wearing a scarf or necklace. This will achieve two goals: It will create another segment of her figure, and it will keep focus away from her midsection, which she’s self-conscious about. For a different tactic, she could draw the eye up and down her figure by wearing a long necklace. I know that may seem counterintuitive, but it will help elongate the figure a bit.

Do low contrast layers

The gray tunic and black leggings are totally cute and I told Emily she should absolutely wear them. But a charcoal gray, dark brown, or other darker colored tunic would help her create a column of color – an unbroken line of color from shoulders to feet – which helps unify the look and create a taller-seeming silhouette.


This yellowish tunic is probably too tight. Since it’s a cardigan, it could be worn open over another tunic-length layer instead of buttoned and belted. Another way to do the column of color with this formula is to wear a like-colored long cardigan and leggings, but a different color on the inside. Of course, to do this Emily would need yellowish leggings, so I told her not to pursue this option with this specific piece … but maybe give it a shot with others.


Don’t worry about it

Emily sent me a photo of herself in clothes that she says create a more traditionally “flattering” silhouette on her – the top and skirt on the left. And she looks dynamite in that outfit, it’s true. But she looks cool and funky in her tunics and leggings, too. As I said above, some of the things you want to wear won’t “work” with your figure in ways that Tim Gunn would embrace. But Tim Gunn isn’t here. When it’s important to you to create a visually balanced, tall, slender silhouette, do that. When it isn’t important to you to hit those marks, don’t worry about them. Figure flattery is limiting, but personal style is unlimited. You’re the boss.

Any other petite women out there wondering about the long-over-lean formula? Are you doing any of the things I suggested? Other recommendations for Emily and other petites who love leggings and tunics?

PLEASE NOTE: Emily is not a blogger herself and has very generously offered to let me post these photos to illustrate how she’s attempted to tackle this specific dressing formula. If you chose to comment on this post, express your views respectfully and civilly or they will not be published. I’m happy to participate in a discussion that includes contrary opinions, but will not tolerate cruelty. Also be courteous and kind to each other when responding to remarks from other readers.

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Reader Request: Styling a Denim Jacket

how to style a denim jacket

Reader Laurel sent this request to me via e-mail:

I was wondering if you would be willing to do a post about how to style jean jackets. With Spring finally starting to thaw, the season of lightweight jackets is upon us, and with ’90s fashion being a big trend right now, I’ve been looking at my jean jacket again, but really don’t know what to do with it. Mine is your kind of typical jean jacket – medium wash, hits at the waist, a little boxy – definitely not high fashion. Any suggestions?

I remember including a denim jacket on my own personal wardrobe must-have list a couple of years ago and having several readers laugh at me. But I’ve stuck to my denim-y guns! My jean jacket doesn’t get loads of wear, but I’ve had the same one for several years and I end up reaching for it at least a couple of times per season. Here are my tips for making a denim jacket look chic and contemporary.

Make sure it fits

So Laurel may curse me for saying this, but that standard-issue 90s denim jacket in all it’s glorious boxiness? It’ll be harder to style than an updated version. Denim is stiff and thick, so few jackets will truly hug your figure, but the ones on the racks now will be a bit more fitted than many vintage styles. Boxy jackets are big for spring, of course, and there are ways to make them work … but if your jean jacket really swamps your figure or totally masks your curves and you’d rather show your body’s form a bit more, springing for an updated one might help. Even thrifting a jacket that was made in the past two to three years may help.

Consider proportion

Since even denim jackets with spandex and princess seams will fit a little loose and boxy on most folks, heeding the proportions of your outfit is key. In most cases, this means making sure your bottom half is relatively well defined, either by a slim pair of pants or a skirt that shows a little leg. Depending on how it fits and how you’re built, your jacket may work beautifully with flowy bottoms, too, like maxi skirts and wide-legged pants. But if you find that you look a little square and curve-free up top, consider balancing the boxy with a figure-highlighting bottom.

Play with juxtaposition

Denim jackets are quintessentially rugged and casual, which means they work wonderfully paired with items that are a bit dressy, frilly, or otherwise not-rugged and casual. Try your denim jacket with a floaty sundress or a sequined tee and miniskirt. Do a fluid blouse and tuxedo pants or a diaphanous tiered maxi dress. Anything that’s traditionally feminine or sparkly or the antithesis of utilitarian Americana.

Go West

Since warm weather is on its way, my inner cowgirl is clawing to get out and I do love seeing denim jackets in Western mixes. Think Sundance Catalog, with long necklaces, dusty boots, and piles of bracelets. Or go for a weathered graphic tee, chino skirt, and fun sandals. Anything that draws in a little bit of rugged ranch life and a little bit of sleek urban chic.

Embrace the unexpected

Looking back over some of my own outfits, I found that I’ve tended to pair my denim jacket with my weird pants. Case in point: The outfit above. I love those pants, but they are definitely cargo sweats with a REALLY tall ankle cuff. Denim jackets are classic and ever so American, so they can work really well with arty, funky, sculptural pieces. So long as the proportions work, that is.

Would love your input, too, of course! How do you style your denim jacket? Is this a classic piece in your opinion, or one you can live without? Other tips for making jean jackets look contemporary?

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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