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Ask Avery: Keeping it classy in transparent tops

Photo courtesy of Flickr / janebelindasmith

blog by Avery Hartmans  • 

Dear Avery,
Is it OK to wear sheer tops without a tank top or cami underneath? I think it looks good but my friends tell me I look trashy.

If it does look trashy, I’m in trouble. I’m guilty of wearing sheer tops all the time — almost always cami-less. In my opinion, camis and tanks underneath your clothes only add extra bulk and extra hassle. This is one case where less definitely is more.

But if your friends aren’t letting you go out in public because of your outfit, there might be a few reasons why. First off, wearing a black or bright patterned bra underneath said sheer top is a big no-no. The point is not to show off your undergarments, but give the illusion that people are seeing more than they really are. With a sheer top, it’s acceptable if prying eyes can see your silhouette but not your new red lace bra. Wear undergarments that are nude or flesh-toned so everything blends right in.

Another look to avoid is over-exposure. You’re already going out on a limb here with your almost see-through top, so try to keep the rest of your outfit very conservative. I’m not saying you need to look boring, but don’t wear a mini skirt and five-inch heels or choose a sheer top that’s low cut. If you’re wearing a sheer chiffon button-down, it’s okay to leave a few buttons un-buttoned, but stop once you approach any hint of cleavage.

One last thing to keep in mind is the tightness of the shirts you’re wearing. It might just be me, but I think a sheer top should be loose, not form-fitting. A top that’s too tight and see-through might attract the wrong kind of attention. Keep it classy, girls.


Dear Avery,
I love the classic look of pencil skirts but I feel like I look really boring when I wear mine with a collared shirt. Is there anything else I can wear with them that looks more modern?

What most excites me about entering the workforce is the option to wear a pencil skirt every day. They’re flattering and professional, classic and stylish, and seriously underrated for their versatility.

There are plenty of ways to update your pencil skirts, none of which require a boring button-down. My favorite look, which I first saw at J. Crew, is pairing a pencil skirt with a loose, boxy sweater. This will tone down the boring factor on even an everyday black pencil skirt, and can still look formal enough for work. Take a cue from the effortless look on the J. Crew models and tuck just the front of your sweater in, throw on some great accessories and a pair of heels, and you’re ready for the workday.

If you’re still feeling uninspired, despite switching things up on top, the problem might be with the pencil skirt itself. These days, you don’t have to stick with neutrals like black, gray and khaki: pencil skirts now come in patterns, bright colors and textures like tweed and leather. Look around for a skirt that you can easily add to your wardrobe and pair with a lot of the clothes you already have — bright yellow might not be the best choice for everyone, but gold metallic can be paired with a lot of other colors. Remember: the words “office” and “cubicle” are not synonymous with “lifeless” and “dull.” Well, maybe they are, but that doesn’t mean your outfit has to be.

Another option is to add a little contrast to your outfit. Try something unexpected on top, like a vintage band t-shirt or even a simple loose v-neck tee, with your usual office-approved accessories like patent leather heels and a blazer. If you keep the rest of your ensemble very professional, your favorite Guns N’ Roses t-shirt from 1986 will add that extra pop your looking for. But if your office is kind of uptight, your affinity for heavy metal might not be appreciated. Instead, opt for something STAR 102.5-approved — a John Mayer or Maroon 5 tee shouldn’t get you into any trouble with the boss.

Photo courtesy of Flickr / janebelindasmith.

TAGGED: ask avery, clothes, guns n' roses, pencil skirts, see-through shirts, work attire

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