The trickiest thing about many a summer outfit is finding the right underpinnings. Super-skinny straps, sheer fabric, and all that white mean a set of problems entirely different from sweater weather (how many times do you worry about what bra you’re wearing when it’s cable-knit time?). After Kim Kardashian wore a top that showed almost the entire backside of her bra, I was more uncertain than ever about what’s appropriate when it comes to purposefully showing off.
Jennifer Zuccarini, founder of super-chic lingerie brand Fleur du Mal, was happy to answer some questions before hosting a Bastille Day-themed pop-up later tonight with vintage shop Pink Clouds. If anyone should know the answers, it’s her: The line offers both lingerie and apparel made to wear on top (though not completely conceal—how awesome does that striped bra below look?).
Q: Wearing a tank that exposes your bra straps: Do or Don’t?
Jennifer Zuccarini: Do—if it looks intentional and the strap color coordinates with your look. Don’t have a ratty nude bra strap peeking out.
Q: So no nude. What colors are best? Any others that don’t work?
JZ: Any color that looks like it works with your outfit. For example, if you’re wearing a dress that has a bit of chartreuse in the print, it’s fun to have a bright chartreuse lace bra peeking out. I like a black bra with a simple white tank or tee, or a white lace bra under a crisp white shirt. It doesn’t have to be super obvious. A hint of lace showing through is sexier.
Q: Any circumstances where it’s not an appropriate look to play with? Obviously not the office…
JZ: Maybe a funeral. Unless you’re going for a Dolce and Gabbana, Sicilian grandmother-in-mourning sort of look.
Q: Sexiest way to flash your lingerie on a date?
JZ: On a first date, I’d keep it subtle, like a blouse unbuttoned just so with a beautiful bra. Third or fourth? Showing a glimpse of a garter belt when you sit down, under a dress or skirt, is very hot.
Q: What about for a day out with friends for a meal or shopping?
JZ: A lace-trimmed silk camisole with denim shorts is a good day look. Or a cropped bustier with boyfriend jeans. I also like a simple silk tank with sneakers.
Q: It’s easy for small-chested women to get away with a flimsy lace bra, but how can women with more to support play with the look?
JZ: A structured bodysuit is a great way to wear this trend if you’re larger busted, or layering a lace camisole over a more supportive bra is an option. If the straps move around, try pinning them to the straps of the camisole with a small safety pin from the inside.
Q: With sheer or light-color shirts, it feels like the only options are a nude bra and trying to blend in, or a black bra and showing it in a totally obvious way.
JZ: Think of lingerie as another layer of your look. Try wearing a printed bra under a sheer printed top—I like a leopard bra under stripes. Choose an obviously bright color or match the color of the bra to what you’re wearing on bottom. But when in doubt, take it back to black.
Q: We love when sheer gowns and skirts worn over visible briefs go down the runway, but it seems impossible to wear in real life. Any suggestions?
JZ: Start with a skirt or dress that’s only slightly transparent, and wear a high-waisted panty or bodysuit that gives you enough coverage in the back. Make sure you can sit down in it without it riding up. Or try a short slip or tap short under sheer so you don’t feel completely exposed. I think the visible panty trend is best to try for evening when you’re going somewhere dark and sexy.