32 In Anatomy of an Outfit/ Getting Dressed

Why I Wear My Black Sheer Patterned Blouse over a Column of White

Sheer blouse

Showcasing my sheer blouse over head-to-toe white

 

‘Tis September and it’s warm outside. I look into my closet to see if there’s something I haven’t worn yet this summer. You know how it is; you get into a pattern of wearing the same things over and over and then suddenly it’s the end of the season and you realize, ‘Oh my gosh, I forgot to wear that favorite blouse of mine!’

I assess my closet for any possible regrets and spy this stretchy cotton sheer blouse hanging in the black section of my closet. It’s been part of my summer collection for over ten years. I don’t feel bad that I haven’t worn it because it’s gotten its fair amount of attention over the years. The collar and the plackets are in linen so it’s not really something I wear outside of the season. It does get packed away once fall weather is in full swing.

So that’s it! I’m wearing this blouse today! As I put my outfit together a phrase keeps ringing in my ears: column of color, column of color. When Erin and I are in the dressing room with clients, I’m repeating those three words when a client is trying on something that’s sheer or semi-sheer (if Erin hasn’t beat me to it). “Let’s create a column of color,” I’ll say.

 

White jeans outfit

Sticking to black and white

 

It’s such an automatic practice for me to be sure to have the top meet the bottom in the same color when I’m adding a sheer third piece and here’s why: I don’t like seeing a color break under something that’s sheer. I much prefer using one head-to-toe color underneath the sheer piece so the line doesn’t get broken up and all the sheer parts are in full view with no interruptions.

I want you to see every bit of that pattern made by the sheer blouse and it’s easier for you to do that if I don’t have multiple colors under there.

Try to imagine this outfit like this: white jeans, hot pink T-shirt, black sheer blouse over the top and buttoned right under the bustline like I’ve done in this outfit. If I did that, you’d be seeing a color break right around my hip line. That bright color underneath would bring more attention to my hips when what I really want is all the attention to be on the pattern of the sheer blouse. I mean, that’s my favorite part! That’s why I bought it all those years ago.

 

Wearing a sheer blouse over 60

Enjoying the design of my sheer blouse

 

I can think of an example of when you want to see a different color under a sheer top. Maybe you have a fuchsia colored silk camisole that you want to wear under a black semi-sheer silk blouson blouse. You like the idea of seeing bold color being diffused by the sheer black overlay. I do too! But I’d be very picky about the edges of the contrasting colors lining up just right so you get the exact effect you want.

I think of myself as lustily breaking rules every chance I get. It’s my mission in life. But this rule? Nope, not so much! Sometimes it’s great to color outside the lines and sometimes it’s just better to stay inside them.

 

How to wear a patterned sheer blouse

Rolling the sleeves up over the elbow

 

All the pieces of this outfit are the same basic fabric: cotton jeans, cotton T-shirt, mostly cotton blouse. Those fabrics are on the sporty side rather than the dressy side. I emphasize that by wearing my lace up tennis shoes (AGL) with it. The texture in the top screamed for more texture so I wear my raffia vintage black frame bag. Doesn’t it look great with the blouse?

 

white jeans outfit

My sheer patterned blouse loves hanging out with my raffia bag

 

Using black and white as my outfit colors, all I need to add is a pop of color to my lips. I start the day with my Chanel long-lasting Bright Raspberry shade but when that faded a bit due to the consumption of waffle, fruit, butter, and maple syrup (yup, you guessed it, from the Sunflower Caffe!), I topped it off with a favorite creamy shade by Kosas called Electra.

 

BK bl sheer lipstick

 

So there’s my recipe for a simple way to put an outfit together AND showcase something sheer. When I look ahead to fall fashion, the sheer pieces are really catching my eye. I’ll probably be showing you some more ways to be wearing sheer fabrics. As a woman over 60, I love that feeling of revealing but not revealing too much. Just the hint of showing skin puts me in a great mood even if I’m not baring much at all!

How are you with sheer fabrics? A fan? How do they make you feel? Do you want to wear more of them? I’m a sponge for your answers!

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    Diane
    September 7, 2017 at 3:33 am

    You look fantastic. Everything works so very well. Now I realize where I may have not been doing my best for my look. If the bottom edges don’t line up I am making an exclamation point on the wrong area. When I wear a mixed colour sheer top, sometimes I end up just taking it off and starting over. You have explained why once again for our benefit. We are having chilly weather, so unlike you, I am really into the transition dressing. So looking forward to the fall with boots etc. and sweaters that do cover the arms. Thanks for more tips.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 7, 2017 at 8:21 am

      I adore how you said that — making an exclamation point in the wrong area. I wish I’d had that sentence when I was writing that post! Thanks, Diane, brilliant! Enjoy that chilly weather. I think a lot of us out here would relish some of that right about now!

  • Reply
    Adele
    September 7, 2017 at 4:10 am

    I love this look! I usually wear a black or navy column of color, but will definitely re-think using white as a column (next summer: it already feels too autumnal here in New England, sadly). I don’t have any lovely, patterned sheer tops but do have a few just-a-little-too-sheer-for-work sleeveless or short sleeved blouses and usually layer a same colored tank underneath to intensify the color and add coverage for the office.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 7, 2017 at 8:23 am

      Yes, I think we all could be wearing sheer tops if we layer something underneath as you say, for coverage. I think the white was an easy choice because of how classic it is with black. Enjoy your tops!

  • Reply
    pam walton
    September 7, 2017 at 5:40 am

    lovely timeless outfit to wear no matter what age we are looks fab and youthful xx take you anywhere

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 7, 2017 at 8:23 am

      I just may have to wear it again today!

  • Reply
    Diane
    September 7, 2017 at 6:25 am

    Hi. I admire your ability to put together outfits that speak to me and my casual lifestyle. You open up my eyes! With this outfit, the shoes are totally unexpected with the lace blouse but they make the ensemble work for me. The column of color is perfect under the sheer blouse and also for us shorties. Here is a problem I have noticed lately when purchasing t-shirt type tops. They appear opaque in the store or on-line, but many are so thin you can see right through to my bra, bare skin, and the top part of my pants that are under the top. Not a good look for my 68 year old self. I have layered a sheer camisole underneath which helps, but in hot weather I just swelter. I guess the solution is to avoid these thin tops and leave them to the younger set that want that look!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 7, 2017 at 8:26 am

      Oh my gosh, Diane, you have touched upon one of my greatest pet peeves: thin, sheer T-shirts that do no favors for anyone! It’s crazy! Really, I hardly think there is one thing that I mutter under my breath about more than thin T-shirts. “What are they thinking?” I say to myself to the manufacturers. It makes no sense. That’s probably why I won out in this outfit choosing the tee I did because it was so old! It was “normal” thickness and not sheer.

  • Reply
    Pat
    September 7, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Brenda, you look fabulous!
    Seeing you in this ensemble reinforces my love of column dressing. Would you consider a post helping women diversify this very modern, chic, elegant, style of dressing.
    You are so knowledgeable (creative and clever), any and all tips would be appreciated.
    faithful fan,
    Pat

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 7, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Hi Pat,
      Just to be clear, you’d like a post on how to wear a column of color in a modern, chic, elegant way?
      I would like to tackle whatever your heart desires!
      Faithfully yours,
      Brenda

  • Reply
    Katie
    September 7, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Diane’s post reminds me, here is a response I’d give to, what questions would we love to hear you answer? (well, however you asked it recently!): where can we find non-clingy, non-see through, non- absolutely plain tees, especially white ones? This has to be one of my top frustrations of all. Every one that I find either 1) shows every roll of flesh, however big or small, 2) is baggy/droopy, 3) is see-through, and/or 4) has no detail whatsoever, even an interesting neckline or seam, so that it really can’t be worn without another piece. Hope this makes sense. It drives me nuts!!!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 7, 2017 at 8:31 am

      Katie, it’s driving me nuts too!!!! I’ll be in the stores with clients shopping next week. I’m going to see if something jumps out at me. This has been a problem for so long. I have no idea who buys these t-shirts! What I’ve done during this period of thin tees is have my clients buy two of them and layer them one on top of the other. Desperate times require desperate measures!

  • Reply
    Sandra Sallin
    September 7, 2017 at 9:13 am

    OK, you always look stunning and I always want to look like you, Now let’s get to the important stuff. What was the red color of lipstick from Kosas that you loved for me? I don’t think there’s a store I can buy it at. I think I’ll have to order on line. So let me know which colors to buy. Do you think you could move in and dress me? I’m a fun chick. We could have lots of fun.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 10, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      Oh, we could have so very much fun! Not all of it legal! Yes, this is that color: Electra. Love it so! The store is near where my daughter Erin lives. I can have her pick it up and send it to you. How about that?

  • Reply
    Marie
    September 7, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    @ Kate
    LL Bean’s best Tshirts wear like iron and fill your first 3 wishes but not the fourth

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 10, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      3 out of 4 is great!

  • Reply
    Kathy
    September 7, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Brenda-you are beautiful! It’s not the outfit it’s “the total package ” as my son would say. I am hesitant with sheer fabrics. They can be too revealing…at this point I would rather leave everyone guessing. Your blouse is perfect however and really is a look I will try and replicate this look. It’s cold by Lake Erie right now but we still will have some warm days to come.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 10, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      Kathy, this one I think is the most modest. I am confident you could pull this off! Thanks for the total package compliment. Love it!

  • Reply
    Aless
    September 7, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    Brenda- you’ve addressed a huge problem for me. I sew quite a lot of my own clothes and I fall for sheers (patterned and plain) quite often. They stay hanging in my wardrobe because I don’t know what to wear with them. Voila!!! You have solved my dilemma. Happily, I must say, because I have just come back from a holiday with a length of Donna Karan striped semi-sheer SILK, ready to be made into an overshirt!! We are soon heading into summer here in Australia.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 10, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      Well, perfect Aless! Better be careful; I may want to borrow some of those sheers you have in your wardrobe! Hope you put them to good use.

  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    September 8, 2017 at 2:08 am

    Well hello again from Oz. I love this look, a bit sporty , but classic, and love the ‘column of colour ‘ look with the black over the top. I agree with all the previous comments, it is so hard to find decent cotton tee, that is not tooo everything, that all have mentioned before. Two problems we have here are , what could you suggest as a brand, or style for the tops for this look, when it is, so hot , you could fry an egg on the pavement outside, and two, keeping within a more odest budget? Not sure if I have expressed these problems clearly enough… Aanyway, first world problems. Once again, love your style, and lovely warmth, Sending, love from Oz

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 10, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      A really good t-shirt is something I’ll actually splurge on because they are so hard to find. Do I need to come up with one? Sometimes I fantasize about creating a friendly line of basics that really work! Sorry to not be able to throw some brand names out there. Although when I look in my closet some of my best tees have been from Talbot’s, Chico’s, or Majestic (pricey). Love hearing from Oz!!!

      • Reply
        Trinnie Q
        September 11, 2017 at 1:47 am

        Thank you Brenda, you are so generous with your time. Much appreciated .

        • Reply
          Brenda
          September 11, 2017 at 3:20 pm

          So welcome!

  • Reply
    Liz
    September 8, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Amen to the problem of flimsy T-shirts! Target used to sell reasonably priced 100% cotton tees with some shape and style, but recently the pickings have been slim to none. Everything that’s 100% cotton is pretty much in the undershirt category, way too thin (for me at least) to stand on its own as an outer garment, and generally knit too blocky to flatter my X-shaped body.
    When I’m feeling flush with cash, however, I buy Three Dots tees online. They make moderate-weight classic tees in a variety of sleeve lengths, necklines, and colors. The tees are pricey, though, and not too easy to layering under anything that has a very body-conscious cut.
    When I buy them I treat them very carefully, like washing with plant-based detergent and drying flat. They last quite a while that way and justify my price-per-wear guidelines.
    Enter Three Dots tee shirts in your search engine. Sometimes I get lucky and there’s a sale at one of the sites selling them, or I’ll have a code to lower the price.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 10, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      I am totally impressed with your clothing care habits! I do have clients who have tees by Three Dots. There’s also Splendid. Have you tried theirs? I’d say they are probably in the same price range. I have a Majestic tee that is half the age of one of my kids by now that has been the best ever in my whole life!

  • Reply
    Diana
    September 8, 2017 at 10:34 am

    I’ve had good luck with Talbots tees. Pricey but I watch for sales.

  • Reply
    Mare
    September 10, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I’m in the early stages of a seasonal sort/cull and I’ll be using this tip on my second pass on things that are in the out pile to see if it makes a difference. Great timing, thanks!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 10, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      I love good timing! Hope it works for you, too!

  • Reply
    Donna Aynesworth
    September 11, 2017 at 11:03 am

    I just discovered you this weekend, Brenda. What a joy for me! Can you successfully wear a column of blue denim with a sweater topper? I’ve always avoided denim on top and bottom. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      September 11, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      I would do that but I’d be sure to add a long pendant to your column of denim. Then look in the mirror. If the denim from head to toe looks too design-heavy, abort your mission! Glad you’re here, Donna!!

  • Reply
    Donna
    September 12, 2017 at 8:02 am

    I’ll work cautiously with this denim column! Thank you. Regarding Tees, I really like LLBean’s Pima cotton, sleeveless, round neck tees. Wish they came in v necks too. They are well priced and nice quality. They come in lots of colors and I use them year round.

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