(of a fabric) very thin; diaphanous
Synonyms: gauzy, filmy, floaty, gossamer, thin, translucent, transparent, see-through
Since childhood I have been enamored with sheer fabrics like chiffon and lace. Living in a world of school uniforms made of dark and heavy fabric and being around nuns in their black, sturdy, cotton habits anything sheer was the route to fantasy, dress-up, romance and pretend. There is something magical to be found in a textile that allows for sunlight to pass through while at the same time maintains a level of privacy and shelter.
Although it has somewhat of a longer fashion history, transparent clothing first appeared on the runway, albeit not intentionally, in the late 1960’s. While recently reading an obituary for Ottavio Missoni, I discovered that during a 1967 fashion show for this iconic knitwear brand in Florence, his wife and partner Rosita, realized she could see the models’ bras through the knits. She requested they be removed but much to the couple’s chagrin when the bright lights of the runway hit the dresses they became transparent and caused quite the scandal. However the following year, Yves St. Laurent presented see through looks followed by London designer Ossie Davis who designed a series of transparent dresses meant to be worn without underwear. Since 2008, sheer looks have remained on the runway in various forms and have been taken to extremes in the world of celebrity culture, a la Beyonce at the 2015 Met Gala.
If there is a time for sheers it is summer and its not just sheer fabric but sheer nails and lips too. There is a lightness and freedom with sheer and it brings to mind the feeling I want to have in the summer as I turn away from the heaviness of the rest of the year. Sheer is deciding to tell little secrets, to show parts of yourself you might not reveal at other times.
Have you dared to tell some secrets with sheers?