Sheerness is better than bareness

January 08, 1992|By New York Times News Service

There has always been something alluring about what is half revealed. Evening clothes with bits of veiling here and there are perennial fashion favorites.

Designers know that a daringly deep decolletage, for instance, doesn't seem nearly as extreme when the plunge is filled in with a wisp of chiffon. It makes it seem more discreet, although it isn't really.

And many women of a certain age have learned to appreciate the charm of a gown with shoulders, sleeves, even a back, of sheer net or chiffon. It gives the illusion of bareness while masking any errant bumps and sags.

In recent seasons, Geoffrey Beene has taken the veiling notion to provocative depths, slashing slips of evening dresses in the most unexpected places (even perilously close to the derriere) and filling in the vacancies with dabs of point d'esprit or net.

These, of course, require their wearers to have superb figures as well as supreme confidence.

Now the veiled look has moved into the daylight, right onto the beach. Practically every resort bathing suit collection includes a few styles with a swath of sheer fabric somewhere, especially over the midriff.

These see-through fabrics are made with stretch fibers that help them cling like a second skin and firm up the flesh as well. That makes for suits that are great for swimming or parading around in not to mention adding a bit of sunscreen.

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