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Lace dresses aren’t reserved solely for a bride on her wedding day, in fact, they can be the perfect casual day dress, or fun and flirty party dress.

The 1980s saw many lace prom dresses (remember Andie’s pink creation in ‘Pretty in Pink’?), and frou-frou meringue-style lace wedding dresses. If this is putting you off, don’t worry!

Lace dresses can and should be stylish, cool, and chic in the current century. 

Welcome to our guide for how to style lace dresses.


Layered lace 

Celebrity inspiration: Fictional fashion icon Carrie Bradshaw wore so many awe-inspiring looks in ‘Sex and the City’, one being a layered, baby-doll style lace dress.

The empire-style dress featured a mini slip, longer lace overlay, and scalloped cups. She paired it with an ornate, patterned coat and pink heels.

The look was eclectic, feminine, and a little bit sexy. This outfit could easily be adjusted to suit any occasion from work to wedding guest. It’s all about the accessories, the fabrics, and the shoes. 

How-to: Play with different levels of sheerness with a short, opaque under layer framing a longer sheer lace over-layer. Pick a longer under layer to make the look more work-appropriate 

Play with colour by wearing a bright slip under a sheer black lace wrap dress 

  • Contrast the lace with a sturdier fabric such as denim or leather jacket 


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Lace bustier and full skirt 

Celebrity inspiration: One of Madonna’s most iconic 1980s outfits was a white lace bustier with a handkerchief-hem tulle skirt, layered necklaces, white gloves, and white pumps.

The bustier lace dress was then made modern by Jennifer Lawrence, Maisie Williams, and Miranda Kerr in more recent years. This is a perfect way to wear lace for long lunches, dressier workdays, and going out for cocktails during the festive season. 


  • Pick a dress with an opaque nude lining to give the effect of sheerness without giving anything away
  • Make sure the bodice fits the body perfectly, flaring from the hip to create an hourglass silhouette 
  • Tone down the look for a more casual vibe by adding a leather belt around the waist, ankle boots, and a cropped denim jacket 

Read: Get the Best of Madonna’s Looks from the 80s

  • For winter and fall, try a midi-length wool coat in a contrasting hue (for example, a red lace dress with a bold pink coat), with tights and knee-high boots 

The lace-and-sweater contrast 

Celebrity inspiration: A few years ago, Jessica Alba rocked a floaty tulle maxi skirt with an oversized, worn-in sweater and a pair of cream boots. The look was a complete hit, fusing street style with fairytale vibes.

While tulle isn’t lace, we couldn’t help being inspired to steal the look and make it our own! This is ideal for big city streetwear, house parties, or weekends when you feel like being creative with your style choices. 


  • You don’t have to go full Alba and rock a lace maxi, you could make it a little more wearable with a lace midi, or even a mini dress, perhaps with a slight flare or pleated waves. That way, you can show off your boots!
  • Hit the thrift stores to find an oversized menswear sweater in a high-quality knit, preferably with a slouchy fit you can wear off the shoulder 
  • Add another layer of texture and tone with a pair of gold hoop earrings or layered necklaces 
  • Juxtapose the sweetness of the lace and wear with biker-style heeled ankle boots in black leather with metallic studs 

The silky lace slip layered with a tee or blouse 

Celebrity inspiration: Let’s take a moment to look away from the red carpet and to the streets during fashion week, where the real people walk. A recent trend seen on many real-life fashionistas is the classic, 90s-style slip dress layered over a tee or blouse, with chic sunglasses, boots, or heels. 

  • Add the romantic whimsy of lace to this look by picking lace-trimmed slips, or even a full-lace slip with a slinky silk lining
  • This effortless, simple, and feminine look is perfect for summer and Spring but can be just as beautiful in Winter when layered with an oversized faux-fur coat and knee-high boots
  • Clash colours, textures, and prints by layering a graphic or patterned long-sleeve tee under the lace slip, then add a leather belt to cinch the waist 
  • A cute way to take this look from street-style to evening-ready is to remove the top from underneath and add an embellished bolero over the silky lace dress (a sure-fire way to get your date’s attention)

About The Author

May is totally crazy about the 80s and everything the decade inspired! Having grown up in a household that was totally taken over by 80s music and fashion its only natural that May lives and breathes the 80s!

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