Lace was everywhere this season (and not just on Kate Middleton’s dress). But while last year a lacy tank was all you needed to look fashion forward, this year designers have upped the stakes with sheer, dramatic lacy styles. BCBG Max Azria showed a totally see-through, floor-sweeping gown in Gothic black lace, while Anna Sui paired a frothy romantic blouse with barely-there lace shorts that may as well be underwear. Believe it or not, you CAN pull off head-to-toe lace without looking like an Adams Family cast member—or a doily on your grandma’s coffee table.
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To pull off a black full-length style like BCBG’s spidery gown, start with a long skirt first. This style from ModCloth only incorporates sheer lace on the bottom, so you can ease into the trend without getting too crazy. Wear it with a sweet, girly chiffon blouse, like this ruffled Urban Outfitters style, to balance out the witchy vibe of the skirt. Earthy black-and-wood wedges, a classic belt, and a jeweled ribbon necklace bring together the boho-meets-ladylike look.
If you want to try Anna Sui’s anything-but-demure lace shorts, power to you—just make sure they cover up your butt first. Unless you’re Blake Lively or her long-lost identical twin, it’s probably not the best idea to leave the house looking like you forgot to put something on over your lace boyshorts. Instead, try a more tailored pair, like these pink paperbag shorts from H&M. A skirt works just as well, too—this floral blush-colored option from Forever 21 is great with a sophisticated blouse and nude pumps for your summer internship.
If you really want to go all out, try all-over lace like Anna. The key is to mix shades and textures without getting too busy. Try an opaque lace bottom with a sheer white lace crop top, or tuck in a romantic ivory blouse with lace trim. To avoid looking like a baby doll, add some grown-up accessories, like this versatile Etienne Aigner satchel and these rugged-cool lace-up Jeffrey Campbell platform booties. Throw on an awesome bracelet, like this laser-cut leather cuff, a sweet necklace like this Topshop heart pendant, and you’ve perfected your Victorian-heroine-riding-a-white-horse-through-the-woods look—or a perfect outfit for a summer night out, whichever you prefer.