When you think of a sheer dress, you likely think of the naked dress trend that has taken over the red carpet over the past decade or more. And, while those looking for something daring can certainly opt for the wardrobe malfunction-begging style, there are so many more ways to incorporate sheer dresses into your current repertoire.
A sheer dress is a way to—yes—show a little skin but remain slightly covered. Whether your overlay is ruched mesh, thin silk, embroidered lace, or the like, you can take that skin-bearing look and turn it into something sweet and feminine just as easily as sassy and head-turning.
Sheer dresses run the gamut, however, so we’ve rounded up our current favorites to shop now. From thin sheer wool slip dresses that you can wear every day to organza stunners that show off a corset detail for special occasions, we have something on this list for everyone.
Shop the sheer dress trend, starting right here.
Raey Crinkle Wool Sheer Slip Dress
For our top spot when it comes to sheer dresses, look no further than RAEY’s sheer slip dress. In black, it can be dressed up or down with ease. What’s more, unlike other synthetic or silk sheer dresses, Matchesfashion’s in-house brand has crafted this one in 100% virgin wool. So, you can wear it through morning, noon, and night, and all twelve months of the year.
Price at time of publish: $255
Material: 100% virgin wool | Size Range: UK4–UK14 | Care: Dry clean
Endless Rose Dotted Organza Mini Dress
Endless Rose takes the sheer dress trend and turns it into a sweet ruffled mini dress with the lace-edged Swiss-dot material that is fully lined, save for two romantic puff sleeves. And, at $130, it’s a great day-to-night summer must-have, effortlessly worn with chunky heels and everyday sneakers alike.
Price at time of publish: $130
Material: 100% polyester shell | Size Range: XS–XL | Care: Hand wash
Alexander McQueen Semi-Sheer Handkerchief Gown with Corset Bodice
While some sheer dresses use their see-through material to put your body on full display, others, like this splurge-worthy Alexander McQueen dress, use it to accentuate what is more often than not considered the inner workings of a high-end garment. Crafted of sheer black silk, both the boning of the corset as well as the layered full skirt accentuate the true craftsmanship of the garment.
Price at time of publish: $3,790
Material: Polyamide, acetate, and silk blend | Size Range: IT38–IT48 | Care: Dry clean
Urban Outfitters Cynthia Semi-Sheer Ruffle Midi Dress
This sheer midi dress is quite romantic in appeal. While you can certainly dress it up with a pair of heels, we love the ’90s grunge style when paired with sneakers or combat boots. Throw it on over a slip for a more conservative look, or wear it with little more than high-waisted briefs and a bralette for an edgier look.
Price at time of publish: $79
Material: 100% polyester | Sizes: XS–L | Care: Hand wash
La Ligne Chiara Sheer Silk Mini Dress
One of the aspects of all La Ligne dresses that set them apart from the rest is their transformative details. With a sheer silky overlay and separate interior mini slip, the dress boasts a waist fastening that ties at each side to hang free as a shift dress or tighten to nip in at the waist. While crafted from a lightweight and sheer material, the dress also features a ruched turtleneck neckline that makes it perfectly appropriate for winter events as well as those in warmer weather.
Price at time of publish: $375
Material: 100% silk | Size Range: XS–XL | Care: Dry clean
Ganni Embellished Recycled-Mesh Midi Dress
We love this sheer maxi dress because it’s so simple in shape, but the all-over 3D embellishment takes it to the next level. Whether you wear it over high-waisted briefs and a bralette, a full bodysuit, or even jeans and a tank, it makes for an all-around whimsical look.
Price at time of publish: $695
Material: 100% recycled polyester | Size Range: DK32–DK42 | Care: Dry clean
BCBGMaxAzria Abella Mini Evening Dress
You’ll love this sheer strapless dress because it takes a skin-bearing trend and turns it into a fun and flirty, ultra-feminine option. With gathered tulle, the mini dress boasts a ruffled trim, full lining, and structured bodice that gives way to a layered skirt. It’s almost as if Old Hollywood dressing turned into a present-day cocktail party must-have. And it rings in at $400 pre-tax.
Price at time of publish: $398
Material: 100% polyester | Size Range: 0–14 | Care: Dry clean
LaQuan Smith Backless One-Shoulder Lace Gown
While this sheer gown might make our list as the best one-shoulder silhouette, it also checks a lot of other sought-after details, like an up-to-there slit, lace material, ruched detail, and back-baring silhouette. Sure, it’s one-shoulder, but it’s oh so much more. For a black tie or after-hours affair that begs a truly jaw-dropping look, try LaQuan Smith’s dress is the one for you.
Price at time of publish: $1,095
Material: 65% nylon, 35% rayon | Size Range: XS–L | Care: Dry clean
WeWoreWhat Mesh Strappy Maxi Dress
This sheer dress is not for the faint of heart. Made of black mesh, the dress on its own is completely sheer, meant as a beach cover-up or similarly water-adjacent dinner party for the bold. And, if the completely see-through nature of the look wasn’t enough, it boasts a backless shape as well as a front cutout silhouette at the bustline. For those looking to ensure all eyes are on you, this is the sheer dress to shop for now.
Price at time of publish: $138
Material: 95% polyamide, 5% spandex | Size Range: XS–L | Care: Hand wash
Rick Owens Gray Tank Maxi Dress
Best when styled over a swimsuit, you can keep yourself covered while simultaneously creating depth in your look à la Kate Moss. As daring and edgy as this look might be, its no-frills silhouette makes it easy to wear with all kinds of accessories.
Price at time of publish: $360
Material: 100% organic cotton | Size Range: XS–XXL | Care: Hand wash
Cloe Cassandro Elodie Printed Crepon Midi Dress
With an all-over print, a sheer dress doesn’t feel quite as sheer as it would otherwise. The print is both lessened, as well as the overall nature of the see-through material, making it a match made in heaven. This pale pink Batik-printed dress is sustainably crafted and meant to be worn as both an everyday midi as well as a beach coverup, depending on your mood. Either way, this partially lined dress is a summertime must.
Price at time of publish: $409
Material: 100% silk | Size Range: S–L | Care: Hand wash
Self-Portrait Azaelea Guipure Lace Dress
Self-Portrait is a master at sheer lace dresses, mixing sheer aspects with nude linings to offer the perfect balance that feels truly sheer while also remaining modestly covered. You’ll love this white lace dress for summertime soirées or bridal events (if you’re the bride, of course), as it takes the sheer dress trend and makes it feel more ladylike than some other styles.
Price at time of publish: $350
Material: 100% polyester with an 87% polyester, 13% elastane lining | Size Range: UK4–UK14 | Care: Dry clean
Macgraw Porcelain Sequin-Embellished Sheer Dress
If Wednesday Addams ever wore a sheer dress, this would be it. In an all-over embellished sheer silk, each sequin is clustered together in a floral-like pattern. The hem hits mid-calf for a perfectly elegant party-ready look, with sweet puff sleeves and a ladylike mock turtleneck that feels both edgy as well as classic.
Price at time of publish: A$1,195
Material: Nylon and polyester | Size Range: AU6–AU14 | Care: Dry clean
Lara Chamandi Floaty Semi-Sheer Bias-Cut Slip Dress
Being cut on the bias technically means that the fabric is cut at a 40º angle in some places to allow for more movement. In practice, it allows the dress to drape in a more natural way that hugs your frame in all the right places, hanging loose in the rest. Lara Chamandi has crafted a pale blue slip dress that’s made of 100% silk and cut on the bias to feel ethereal and romantic.
Price at time of publish: €518
Material: 100% silk | Size Range: IT38–IT46 | Care: Dry clean
Norma Kamali Diana Jersey One-Shoulder Midi Dress
Leave it to Norma Kamali to craft the best ruched dress, be it sheer or otherwise. This one-shoulder body-hugging black sheer dress has all-over ruching that wraps around a built-in nude-toned bodysuit, so it seems as though you’ve swathed yourself in a luxurious mesh sheet.
Price at time of publish: $200
Material: Nylon and elastane | Size Range: XS–XL | Care: Not listed
For day-to-night wearability, RAEY has knocked it out of the park with its Crinkle Wool Sheer Slip Dress, but we also can’t help but love La Ligne’s Chiara Sheer Silk Mini Dress, which you can wear by day with flats and by night with heels. For a true splurge, it gets no better than Alexander McQueen’s Semi-Sheer Handkerchief Gown with Corset Bodice. On the flip side, a great budget-friendly option is Endless Rose’s Dotted Organza Mini Dress, which features sweet puff sleeves and a tiered mini silhouette.
What to Look for in Sheer Dresses
Sheer dresses are more about the material (see below!) than the fit. You can shop all of your favorite silhouettes made of sheer lace, mesh, silk organza, and more. Whether you want a structured bodice, swinging mini, black-tie-ready gown, or go-anywhere slip dress, there is a sheer dress for you. Shopbop’s Fashion Director Caroline Maguire agrees: “There are not many rules when it comes to shopping for a sheer dress. It’s all about what you feel most comfortable wearing.”
Preeti Gopinath, an associate professor who teaches textiles at The New School, explains the fabrication of a sheer dress, namely, the two basic attributes of the material. One is the yarn, and the other is the weave. “You need a translucent yarn because if the yarn is opaque, the sheer quality of it is going to be diminished,” she explains. Though, she adds, “you can have a very lightweight cotton fabric that you can see through in the sun. That’s also sheer, but [this is] because it’s a light open weave structure.” Sheer dresses are very often made from organza, a fabric that features a sheer thread and open weave. Organza can be made from polyester or silk, though the latter is preferred for its natural quality and luxurious feel.
How do you style a sheer dress?
You can style a sheer dress for day or night. It all depends on the cut of the garment. That said, what you have to keep in mind when styling a sheer dress is coverage, first and foremost. The garment could be lined, in which case you can pay no mind to the overlay’s sheer quality. If not, however, you need to take into consideration how much—or how little—skin you want to show. Perhaps all you want to wear underneath is a bralette and a pair of high-waisted briefs. Layer with a jacket or cardigan to add even more dimension.
How can you take the sheer dress trend and make it more conservative?
Wearing a sheer dress doesn’t mean that you have to walk down the street practically naked. “With any sheer dress, your skin is going to be showing in some way. Because of that, I think that sheer garments will always have a sultry appeal,” cautions Maguire. For those looking to be more conservative, she suggests choosing a dress with sheer sleeves, like Endless Rose’s Dotted Organza Mini Dress, over something sheer throughout. You can also go for something like RAEY’s Crinkle Wool Sheer Slip Dress, which is only sheer at the shins.
What sheer fabrics are the most durable?
Gopinath explains that silk is expensive because it comes from worms but has practical value, too, because it’s relatively strong. “It's not going to last for 1,000 years like polyester and nylon,” she says. “But who wants a dress to last that long?” It’s also worth noting that stretch fabrics, which are also synthetic, are the most durable. Non-stretch fabrics are more delicate.
Why Trust Byrdie
Born and bred in New York City, Avery Matera is a freelance fashion and style writer with a love of jewelry, yoga, and—of course—her puppy, Emma. She has worked for Glamour Magazine covering the French and American fashion markets and garnered bylines in Elle, Teen Vogue, W, and more.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough sheer dresses from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.