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A few weeks ago, I found myself in a situation I haven’t experienced since early 2020: choosing an outfit that would work for a full day of work and errands, as well as a semi-formal dinner that very same night. Standing in front of my closet, I was truly at a loss. Do I wear something structured along with a pair of heels — a combo I might regret by mid-afternoon, battling bloat and blisters? Should I just risk it with a pair of jeans and then opt for a nice shirt? The clock was ticking, and there was no longer time for steaming or ironing, so I settled on something that felt sort of risky for my own personal style.
I went with a matching, printed mesh skirt set (which looked more like a dress than two separate pieces), and to be honest, it ended up working out perfectly.
For some reason, I’ve always associate this tight, sheer material with an aesthetic that’s edgier and slightly cooler than mine. For years, I’ve seen Gen Z style mesh turtlenecks under oversized tees or pair them with tight dresses. And while I’m always down for experimentation, I felt like an impostor doing the same, especially when my own wardrobe consists of more feminine styles, such as ruffles and hints of sparkle. Ordering this mesh skirt set was always a fashion risk in my eyes, but for this particular outfit emergency, it ended up paying off.
Gotham/GC Images Kendall Jenner wearing a mesh dress.
For starters, a mesh dress or skirt set is a ready-made look, which you can then dress up with accessories and footwear of your choosing. Feeling more casual? Slip on a pair of sneakers. Want shoes that feel both elevated and walkable? Western-inspired boots might do the trick (which is exactly what I went with). Mesh also allows for movement — you won’t be tugging and adjusting all day or night — while at the same time, it’s tight enough to make you feel put together and secure. The sheerness factor (which can always be combatted with a bralette or extra layers) as well as a fun pattern makes these pieces feel special and elevated, so even though they’re throw-on-and-go, they won’t look out of place in a fancy setting.
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For me, my mesh skirt set was a hit, both as I ran around NYC earlier in the day and sipped expensive cocktails in a dimly-lit room later on. In fact, now that I’ve realized how versatile this trend can be, I’ve invested in a handful of mesh dresses. Complete with an oversized blazer, they’ll work for the office, but on the weekends, I wouldn’t feel silly styling one with a chunky sweater or hoodie.
A mesh dress also feels like the optimal piece for experimenting. I’d wear a midi option with a puffer vest and sneakers for a sporty vibe, or layer a shorter version over jeans, channeling Y2K.
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I’ve come to realize the trend that once seemed too Gen Z for my taste has become the answer to a bunch of my fashion dilemmas. It just goes to show that you’re never too old or too…whatever to wear anything — and that it’s wise to stock up on mesh dresses before all those holiday celebrations.
Wild Fable Long Sleeve Ruched Mesh Bodycon Dress
Shop now: $30; target.com
ELOQUII Turtleneck Mesh Dress
Shop now: $130; eloquii.com
A.L.C. Ansel Printed Jersey Dress
Shop now: $495; alcltd.com
AFRM Shailene Long Sleeve Mesh Midi Dress
Shop now: $88; nordstrom.com
11 Honoré Iris Ruched Mesh Long Sleeve Body-Con Dress
Shop now: $228; nordstrom.com
Daisy Street Tie Dye Mesh Set
Richard Quinn Primrose Ruched Mesh Button-Up Shirtdress
Shop now: $745; nordstrom.com
MISA Los Angeles Vivienne Long Sleeve Dress
Shop now: $295; nordstrom.com