What to Wear Under a See-Through Maxi Dress 

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What to wear under a see through maxi dress
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Last Updated on May 4, 2022

When it comes to see-through maxi dresses, we usually tend to think of glamorous long dresses made of lace, with trailing tails and more than a few embroidered beads. But the truth of the matter is that maxi sheer dresses are one of the trendiest types of casual wear dresses too. 

Think summer beach dresses, crochet dresses, tulle and mesh dresses, and of course long lace dresses! The style options are endless, but with all those options one question remains.

How can I pull it off?

Did you know that wearing actual clothes under a see-through dress was even an option? Or, have you ever considered that you can wear a sheer maxi dress without actually exposing your lingerie

Have you ever pondered what lies beneath a see-through maxi dress when it looks like there is nothing underneath? Because, trust me, even though it might seem like there is nothing under there, this is not true!

Here is the gold, ladies, and gents. 

Everything you always wanted to know about what to wear under a see-through maxi dress and more, plus a bunch of amazing recommended products from major retailers and famous brands to fill your closet to the brim! Enjoy!

Quick summary of top things to do and avoid when wearing a maxi sheer dress:

What to do 

  • Decide on whether you are going nude or looking for contrast in your underwear.
  • Find the right size of underwear for you.
  • Find the right hue of shapewear for your skin tone.
  • Be aware of how exposed your backside will be if you wear a thong.

What not to do

  • If you are going for a luxurious finish, do not wear a shorter slip than your dress.
  • Do not wear nude lingerie that is not the right skin tone.
  • Beware of scratchy fabrics and going commando.
  • Do not wear your bra over the dress, it just looks tacky.

The Nude Dress

The Nude Dress

The concept of the sheer dress, to reveal without fully revealing, is shared by the naked dress also known as the nude dress. What’s a nude dress? Any type of body-fitting skin-colored dress, with no particular design or fabric restriction. The only requirement is that it has to be as minimal as possible to look like a second skin. 

This tiny garment turns heads and makes history wherever it appears on its own. Just ask Carrie from Sex and the City, who popularized it when she appeared in a scandalously short nude dress in one of the first seasons of the TV series. 

Of course, there is no rule that says nude dresses have to be worn on their own. They also happen to be absolutely perfect to be worn under a sheer dress if you don’t feel like flashing your lingerie to the world. I will not go into how to line a see-through dress because this is a rather complicated process, but the easy way out is to add a long slip or naked dress to the ensemble.

The magic of the thing? It will look like you are wearing nothing but it will aid in the fall of the overlaying dress and provide an added layer of warmth (this is actually a neat trick for wearing a sheer dress in winter!). Plus, it frees you to use whatever shapewear you want underneath. 

Nude dresses that won’t break your bank account

Sleeveless Spaghetti Strap Satin Dress on Amazon

Casual Bodycon Maxi Dress on Amazon

Rib-knit Dress by H&M $69.99

Ruffled wrap dress by Mango $69.99 

Seamless Mini Ivory Slip Dress by Lulu’s $24 (Lulu’s is a great option for budget dresses, they are not of the best quality so don’t expect them to last long but they are very well made so if you are looking for something party-worthy for a pretty penny, this is your ticket.)

Some deluxe options worthy of a red carpet

Textured flowy dress by Mango $99.99 (I absolutely love the quality of Mango, this dress can actually double up as a whole dress on its own which is always a plus!)

Alice + Olivia Harmony Draped Slip Mini Dress by Saks Fifth Avenue $295 

SKIMS  Soft Lounge ribbed stretch-modal slip dress – Camel by Net-a-porter $97.64

The Clothes

The Clothes to wear with a sheer maxi dress

As I said before, wearing clothes under a see-through maxi dress is an option that few people consider when pondering how to pull off a sheer dress when in fact it is not only the easiest, most flattering solution, but it also allows you the most creative freedom. 

Actually, I would say this is one of my favorite options because you can play around with different styles and achieve great ensembles for any number of occasions.

Pro Tip: Depending on your body shape, A-line dresses with pants will elongate your legs while shorts will make it look as if your torso is longer. Wearing long sleeves will thin out your arms and make your top look skinnier, while loose t-shirts will call attention to your bust area. A bra will also be more eye-catching in general terms than a t-shirt, especially if the dress has a neckline that calls attention to the breast area. Check out some awesome 90s dress styles here.

Cute tops in different shapes and forms
Criss Cross Lace Up Sling Crop Top on Amazon (This is particularly cute for a Coachella style.)

Strapless Back Boned Bustier Corset on Amazon

Basic Plain Spaghetti Strap Tube Crop Top on Amazon

Cut Out Sleeveless Round Neck Slim Fitted Ribbed Tank Top on Amazon

Halter Neck Square Bralette on Amazon

Long Sleeve Crop Top Tee on Amazon (This is great if you want to cover up a bit or if you are braving the cold but still want to layer up in a sheer dress.)

Vintage Rock Band T-Shirt on Amazon (Or go with your most used and loved old tee!)

Here are some quick examples of how see-through dresses can be turned into amazing looks:

  • Tight sheer mesh dresses look superb when paired with a crop top and a mini skirt. You can slightly tweak that same outfit to create a rocker vibe with Doc Martens or go for a luxurious feel with high-heeled pumps. 
  • Transparent tulle sheer dresses are a winning casual look option when put together with an old rock t-shirt, leather leggings, and combat boots. You can change this look into a lady-like ensemble with contrasting white pumps, a tight bralette, and slim jeans.
  • A long polka dot maxi sheer dress with a babydoll underneath is a great street option but it could also double as a beach outfit if you replace the slip with a bikini and the sneakers with beachy sandals.

Varied options for bottoms

Curvy Ultra High Jeggings by H&M $19.99 (Because they make the absolute best booty!)

Zip hem Leggings by H&M $34.99

Low Waist Flared Twill Pants by H&M $24.99

Loose Straight High Jeans by H&M $29.99 (Do not underestimate the power of jeans under a maxi dress. Long live this 90s icon!)

Shaping Skinny Levi’s 311 on Amazon (I stand by Levi’s jeans. They last for ages.)

Bootcut Levi’s Classic Jeans on Amazon (A classic.)

Levi’s Classic Straight Jeans on Amazon

The Lingerie

Lingerie to wear with a sheer maxi dress

See-through maxi dresses have always been an item that denoted female power. Especially so during the 90s, when women started to reclaim the idea of their nakedness on the red carpet (cue in the first nude dresses, the lingerie slips, and the babydolls). Remember the 1998 VMAs? Rose McGowan wore a memorable dress made of finely black strung beads and went all in, wearing it with nothing but a G string. 

Freeing the nipple might be very eye-catching for the red carpet, but for everyday wear, it is certainly less than ideal, particularly if you are taking the tube. Despite the exhibitionist nature of the sheer dress, there are many ways to avoid going fully bare. With the proper lingerie, you can decide on the level of exposure that you want starting by being fully covered by a long slip dress, wearing a short babydoll or short slip, going for a bodysuit, or deciding on a lingerie set.

Each of these undergarments has pros and cons and which is the right one for you will really depend on the dress, the occasion, and your level of comfort. If you are not intending to go fully nude like Rose, wearing lingerie under your transparent dress might be a good idea. 

Lace Cute-Looking Bralettes and Bras (plus sets)

Adella White Lace Bralette by Lulu’s $38

Ilektra Black Lace Bralette by Lulu’s $38

Living Fantasy Black Lace Balconette Bralette by Lulu’s $36

Jayda Unlined by Adore Me $24.95

Rochelle Push Up by Adore Me $24.95

Emanuelly Push Up by Adore Me $24.95

Lisette Contour by Adore Me $24.95

Selina Contour by Adore Me $24.95

Kaia Unlined Sexy Black Set by Adore me $24.95

Bodysuits

Romantic Evenings White Floral Lace Sleeveless Bodysuit by Lulu’s $48

Cherish with Love Ivory Floral Embroidered Sleeveless Bodysuit by Lulu’s $39

Love Me Harder Red Embroidered Sheer Mesh Bodysuit by Lulu’s $19

Flirty Touch Blue Lace-Up Lace Bodysuit by Lulu’s $35

Unforgettable Romance Green Sheer Lace Halter Bodysuit by Lulu’s $25

Babydolls

Etty Unlined Babydoll & G-String Set by Adore Me $24.95

Calissa Lace Bodysuit by Adore Me $24.95

Romance You Black Satin Backless Lace Lingerie Slip by Lulu’s $35

Primrose Babydoll by Adore Me $24.95

The Shapewear

Shapewear for see through maxi dress

There are a bunch of very interesting bodysuit nude options that are ideal for maxi dresses and go beyond the basic combo of top + bottom shapewear that we covered in our previous articles, check them out:

Catch a Glimpse: What to Wear Under a See-Through Dress

What to Wear Under a White See-Through Dress 

Pro tip: Do make sure that your chic look is not ruined by a bad choice of underwear by picking a skin tone that is as close as possible to your actual skin tone. The whole magic behind wearing skin-toned underwear is that it will visually disappear under a thin sheer layer. Strive to find the right one, even though it can sometimes feel like a unicorn hunt. I guarantee it will be worth it. 

Thankfully, brands nowadays are aware that we humans come in a wide variety of shades and most companies are striving to provide us with as many options as possible. Still, if you are in doubt go for a slightly lighter tone because chances are that it will blend easier under the dress than a darker shade. 

Bottoms

Commando control Thong by Saks Fifth Avenue $38 

Cheeky Brief by Adore Me $19.95

Thinstincts® 2.0 Cheeky Brief by Spanx $48.00

Shaping High-Rise Brief by Saks Fifth Avenue $20

Undie-tectable® Lace Hi-Hipster Panty by Spanx $24.00

Sculpting short mid-thigh w/open gusset by Skims $34

Felina Body Sculpt Shaping Slip Shorts on Amazon

Higher Power Short by Spanx $38

Tops

Flirty and Fun Black Ribbed Brami Top by Lulu’s $24

Bra-llelujah!® Demi Lift Bra by Spanx $68.00

Maidenform Casual Comfort Convertible Bralette on Amazon

Free People Women’s Adella Bralette on Amazon

Seamless Push-up Bra by H&M $24.99

Hanes Women’s SmoothTec ComfortFlex Fit Wirefree Bra on Amazon

Super Push-up Bralette by H&M $24.99 with matching panty

Seamless Microfiber Push-up Bra by H&M $24.99 (This is my absolute favorite everyday bra, it is super comfy, has great support, and looks seamless under whatever you wear it!)

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Lorena Lombardo is a fashion designer specialized in trend forecasting and fashion journalism. She studied at the UAL (University of London), ORT (Universidad ORT Uruguay), and taken various courses about traditional craftsmanship while living in Tokyo. Some of her favorite memories during the 90s include wearing bucket hats and trying to copy Rachel’s hairstyle. Her absolute favorite show was Buffy: the Vampire Slayer but she was also a huge fan of Clueless because of its amazing fashion choices. Her top track of the decade is currently disputed between How soon is Now? by the Smiths and Here with me by Dido. Both also happen to be the opening songs for two great 90s shows: Charmed and Roswell. Coincidence? I think not!