Fashion can be fickle: Trends come and go by the season, leaving us to either buy a few new on-trend pieces each season or stick to keeping our dream outfits pinned on our various Pinterest boards in hopes that the trend cycle brings back our favorite styles from years past. But even at a time when those very cycles seem to be moving at warp speed (hello, microtrends!), there's one style that the fashion set has been transfixed with for nearly a year: fall 2022’s sheer trend.
Wearing thinner clothes as we head into the chilly fall and winter seasons is at least confusing and at most impractical, so why is everyone so into them right now? According to Jessica Richards, a trend forecaster and founder of JMR Trend + Creative, it has to do with the desire to be seen–and our current political climate post Roe.
“Through 2022, two major trends in the style zeitgeist have had staying power: dressing with presence and dressing with empowerment,” she says. The first of these is brought on by a “post-lockdown and post-restrictions sentiment to be "seen" in the world again,” she says, and is “driven by the return of bright and bold color palettes, volume silhouettes. and platform shoes.” Consider this the reason behind the rise of layered ballerina-inspired midi skirts that go perfectly with your favorite pair of ballet flats.
A second reason sheer pieces have been trending, Richards says, is “a corollary reaction to this year's political climate; with challenges against women's rights on the forefront, hyper-feminine and body-baring trends defy a climate created by legislation that restricts women's autonomy of their bodies.”
“These silhouettes, created in sheers that emulate ‘nakedness,’ strip down the volume of their co-trend and instead promote a presence that a woman's body is her own and not to be ignored,” Richards continues over email. “She will make it seen and acknowledged in a fashion-forward response to the socio-political environment of the times. In these silhouettes, net fabrics and chiffons are most present.”
Seemingly with this idea in mind, a multitude of different sheer pieces cropped up during the Fall/Winter 2022 fashion week season earlier this year. At Maryam Nassir Zadeh, sheer button-downs were shown with work-appropriate brown trousers. At MSGM at Milan Fashion Week, bedazzled mesh turtlenecks were worn underneath equally-bedazzled cut-out dresses. Finally, at Fendi, printed mesh dresses were styled under a bolero with satin pumps.
Sheer pieces were promptly introduced to the market just in time for summer, when just about every influencer and street style maven was wearing something that you could see through. And now, as New York Fashion Week wraps up and we can finally look at the best looks from the week in full, it’s clear that the trend isn’t going away anytime soon.
The sheer look was one of the season’s most dominant trends—if not the most dominant—and every designer put their own spin on it. At Tory Burch, for instance, sheer panels were adorned with oversized paillette-style sequins in shades of lemon yellow and pale blue. At Mirror Palais’ debut collection this season, models walked down the aisle at an actual church wearing wispy midi dresses and matching sets in shades of maroon and bright white. Tibi, for its own part, made the daring trend (slightly) more office-appropriate by tucking an oversized white button-down into a light-as-air white chiffon midi skirt.
Ahead, shop the best sheer pieces, broken down by category. I’ve found the best sheer dresses, the best sheer tops, the best sheer skirts, the best sheer pants and a few of the best sheer tights and socks, with inspiration from New York’s trendiest women straight from the streets of New York Fashion Week. Plus, Richards breaks down how to style see-through fabrics for day or night.
Best Sheer Trend Pieces
Best Sheer Dresses
Picking your favorite sheer dress is a real choose-your-own-adventure dressing situation. Brands like STAUD offer dresses with sheer paneling, while SKIMS goes all-out with a black sheer mini dress. Fashion insiders also layered their sheer frocks over a pair of jeans for playful approach.
Best Sheer Tops
Adding a sheer top into your fall and winter rotations is maybe the easiest way to incorporate the look this season. They come in every silhouette (crop tops! Button downs! Turtlenecks! Bodysuits!), proving just how simple they are to style. They work just as well with a pair of jeans as they do with a skirt or layered on top of a slip dress.
Best Sheer Skirts
Sheer skirts come in every shape and style this season. From tulle-covered petticoats to light-as-air maxi skirts, the options are endless. Wear your sheer skirt with an oversized T-shirt to cover your underwear, or style them over the top of high-waisted underwear for a more daring take.
Best Sheer Pants
While glittery, party-ready pants might have trended this summer, neutral-hued sheer pants are a major trend for fall and winter. Shop lacy options from insider-beloved brand GANNI, or go all-out with patterned mesh versions from brands like FIND ME NOW.
Best Sheer Accessories
Chillier weather may be upon us, but sheer socks and tights are still trending. Think: Harry Style's lightweight blue socks in the "Late Night Talking" music video when it comes to finding inspiration. You can (and should!) layer your sheer socks with your favorite heels or sneakers for a fun touch.