What happened when I tried the completely sheer dress trend in Dublin
"How hard can it be?"
I asked myself that most foolish of rhetorical questions when presented with the task of road testing the see-through dress trend, current favourite of ‘slebs everywhere.
Lace and mesh inserts became de rigueur where opaque fabric had once been. Navels and thighs and cleavage were all on show, all at once. At the VMAs, it was apparent the trend had peaked.
In a scene reminiscent of the Emperor’s new clothes, it seemed the intention of attendees was to wear as little as possible whilst avoiding arrest.
Singer Halsey donned a see-through lace jumpsuit with nipples peeping through, whilst model Hailey Baldwin opted for a black transparent catsuit by Georges Chakra. Model Ashley Graham showed just why she made it as a plus size model, her curves fiercely displayed beneath her transparent Naeem Khan gown.
Hailey Baldwin at the VMAs
Last weekend’s Harper’s Bazaar Icons Party, a highlight on the New York fashion week calendar, was the most fitting event for this trend.
Kim Kardashian led the pack in a totally sheer lace Givenchy gown, whileVictoria’s Secret models Natasha Poly and Toni Garrn followed suit in similarly nude frocks. Garrn possibly won this round though, with her areolas and hip skimming knickers insouciantly bared.
"Surely parading around in a barely-there gown is hardly difficult," I naively thought to myself. Watching Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé fearlessly stride down the red carpet, breasts barely constrained by gossamer fine mesh and bum cheeks visibly shifting under their skirts, it certainly seemed easy.
Ashley Graham at the VMAs
But how about doing it in Dublin city centre on a dreary Tuesday lunchtime? What may be sheer brilliance for the red carpet could indeed be sheer stupidity in the cold, grey light of day.
It’s a strange sensation putting on a piece of clothing and actually feeling more naked than when you began. Although I’m not one to shy away from flashing a bit of flesh (I’ve worn my share of shamelessly short shorts) I have always steered clear of sheer.
Although these dresses use more yardage of fabric than a pair of Daisy Dukes, there is something far more intimidating about donning a dress that may be floor-length but does indeed bare all.
In a bid to offset the semi-nudity of the clothes I equipped myself with a pair of black granny knickers, hoping any connotation with senior citizenship would tone down the ensembles.
Emerging onto St Stephens Green in a short lace number I felt hopeful. This wasn’t so bad.
Sophie Donaldson in the Danta Black Sheer Crochet Lace Dress by PrettyLittleThing.com. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Sure it was lunchtime, but 12 hours into the future this dress would be perfectly acceptable. The only unsettling moment was a cool breeze coursing through the lace, momentarily giving me the sense that I was far more naked than I looked.
With a few double takes and a few flashes of the camera, dress number one was done.
By dress number two my fears were abating by the minute. The ankle grazing length made up for the sheer lace and paired with my trusty granny knickers the resulting look was, well, kind of chic.
Sophie Donaldson in the Suzzie Black Scoop Back Sheer Floral Maxi Dress by PrettyLittleThing.com. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Where I had been sheltered by the leafy foliage of Stephens Green we had now moved to the top of Grafton Street. As the camera flashed the crowd started to stall and my newly found confidence ebbed as I forgot the ‘chic’ and remembered the cheeks that were now bared for all to see.
Deep breath, camera flash, and we mercifully moved on.
Standing in front of rock n' roll institution Bruxelles, a venue that has been graced by everyone from AC/DC to Axl Rose and behind the iconic bronze statue of Phil Lynott, I did all I could to channel my inner rock goddess as I stood in a lace catsuit.
At this point I extend my apologies to those trying to enjoy a pub lunch under the outdoor awning. My pale body encased in black lace, the fabric sagging ever so slightly around the crotch, is enough to put anyone off their chicken wings.
Sophie Donaldson in the Lucillia Black Lace Catsuit, €42 by PrettyLittleThing.com. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
This was, by far, the most difficult outfit to pull off. In short, I felt ridiculous and suddenly this Kardashian lark didn’t seem so easy. If not on somebody with a handful of curves, the only place this lace one-piece belongs is with a pair of ears on the chorus line of Cats.
Peeling the bodysuit from my legs with relief, I faced the next dress with some trepidation. The model wearing it on the retailer’s website had far more guts than I, her breasts completely on display.
Sophie Donaldson in the Dido Sheer Black halterneck metallic knitted maxi dress, by PrettyLittleThing.com. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Actually, it was more than just the bravery stakes she beat me in. Not coming even close to her cup size, even if this was the type of website to publish topless photos I don’t think I’d be the ideal candidate. I stuck with a strapless bra and fumbled with the halter neck tie and strap that tied around the back.
Inexplicably this see-through dress was also backless with a slit running up one thigh. Maybe on a yacht with your bikini beneath would it work, but I don’t recommend it walking by the taxi rank on Westbury Mall.
Of all the lacy numbers I tried the final option was the outright winner. The loose t-shirt fit neutralised the see-through mesh and despite having my photo taken in the thick of Grafton Street pedestrians I didn’t feel as exposed as before, even when an elderly man muttered “I hope you’re getting paid for this.”
Sophie Donaldson in the Cheska Black Applique Detail mesh t-shirt dress by PrettyLittleThing.com. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
As bemused tourists made their way past me I surmised that those who do dare to bare do so with a wholloping sense of confidence, which I greatly admire. And me? I would gladly wear this sheer dress over a leather skirt or with slinky trousers beneath.
But then, what on earth would be the point of that?
All dresses provided by PrettyLittleThing.com