Camisoles Beneath Blouses: White or “Nude”?

camisoles beneath blouses white nudeWhich are the best camisoles to layer beneath blouses? Is a seamless camisole important, or a nude-for-you camisole? Or is a white camisole the best thing under a white blouse? Reader S has a question, and I thought it might be a fun topic because I’ve said before: I am a fan of plain, non-lacy white or black camisoles (with a nude-for-you bra) beneath sheer blouses, rather than “nude” camisoles. They make it clear to the non-fashion people you work with that it’s safe to look at your blouse — a solid camisole avoids that weird Barbie look of “it’s sheer and I think I see skin but there’s no bra or nipple and I’m so confused…” I also think it streamlines things in your closet, because if you need a camisole to raise the neckline of a dress, you’d want a white or black one anyway. But maybe I’m in the minority. Here’s S’s question:

I recently got several lovely silk button up blouses. I love the feel and look, and the step-up in fabric. However, they are kind of sheer. I have been searching high and low, and can’t find a good nude camisole that doesn’t show all the straps and seams and edges under the silk, making it look cheap and not well put together. Not the look I’m going for. Why can’t they make the camisole equivalent of these panties?

camisoles beneath blouses white nudeIn addition, most of the “nude” camisoles I have found look like they’re nude on a banana cream pie, but not on me. like this one (pictured at right).

I’ll weigh in with a few answers for S, but I’m curious to hear what readers say about this whole issue.

  • Seamless camisoles do exist. When we last rounded up the best camisoles for layering, many of the reader favorites were seamless, include the Shimera brand (now just sold under Nordstrom’s label). Again, I’m not a fan of a “nude” camisole, but it is refreshing to see that they at least have more than just beige (pictured at top: “tan thrush,” available during the anniversary sale for 2 for $30, or $17.50 each (normally $28). Another good one to take a look at: this “whisper tank” from Commando, a company that’s one of the OGs as far as seamless thongs and briefs. Both of these options have thicker straps, which I like because they hide your bra straps. A few more options for you on the affordable side, both of which got shoutouts during our last discussion on favorite lingerie: Ann Taylor (you can usually get them during sitewide sales!) and Jockey.
  • Readers, my Googlefu is failing me — what companies cater to various shades of “nude”? There used to be a company called MySkins, which looks like it is now defunct. I found a company called Nubian Skin that has different bras, panties, and hosiery — but no camisoles. See, another reason to not like “nude” camisoles. :)
  • Finally, a note on the silk blouse itself, “showing all the seams and edges under the silk.” A big problem with more affordable silk blouses is that they often do show all the seams and edges of the blouse itself… if that is what Reader S meant (I can’t quite figure out if she’s referring to the seams of the camisole or the seams of the blouse), it may just be one of those blouses that is better for wearing beneath vests, sweaters, and more.

Ladies, what are your thoughts? Are you Team Nude Cami, or are you on my side with white camisoles beneath white blouses? Readers who like nude camisoles and other items, what are your favorite brands that “match” your skin (and what skin tone do you have)?  


N.B. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course we highly value all comments by our readers, we’re going to ask you to please keep your comments on topic; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. Thank you for your understanding!



  1. I personally prefer the look of a nude camisole under a sheer blouse generally; however, I definitely see the appeal of a stark contrast to telegraph *work appropriate* to co-workers (this is why I avoid sheer blouses for work most of the time anyway).

    That being said, I really love the seamless camisoles at the Limited – they come in a variety of colors and they have ones that are “tunic” length, which means they are plenty long enough to stay tucked in, even on someone long-waisted like me. And, the Limited always has great sales.

    • Plus 1 to the Limited. I own a ton of their camis in different colors. They are cheap, hold up decently well, and are thin so it doesn’t feel like a ton of layering. My only complaint is that I feel like it rides up a lot.

  2. “Sheer” not “shear”, surely?

    • Haha – that was my first thought too.

    • Anonymous :

      I’ll give Reader S the benefit of the doubt that it was just a typo/autocorrect issue, but it’s pretty bad of Kat/Kate to not correct it for her.

      • she managed to add two affiliate links but not correct shear. fascinating.

        • Your comment is ridiculous.

          • Anonymous :

            I think kelsey’s comment is hilarious and appropriate. Rampant affiliate links make me question whether monetization goals compromise the quality of the content on this site, and this misspelling is a small but relevant example. But I will say I do appreciate Corporatte’s affiliate disclosures.

  3. I like white or ivory under anything light, black or navy under anything dark. I don’t do nude for the same reason mentioned above (the Barbie Effect).

  4. White, ivory, or black! Nude feels like people are looking at me and wondering.

  5. I don’t think the new Nordstrom branded camisoles are the same as the old Shimera camisoles – they fit differently (tighter, tend to roll up and generally not as awesome).

    • Agreed. Not as long, not as wide a bottom hem (more rolling) seem thinner. Thumbs down on the transition from Shimera to Nordstrom brand. They are still “good enough” just not great.

  6. Team Non-White cami. Something about white camisoles just distracts so much from the blouse. To me, it’s like seeing men’s white undershirts through their dress shirts (I’ve seen a tip for men to wear gray undershirts under white dress shirts, btw). I am NC45 (“caramel” color) and prefer these simple, cheap camis from Old Navy:

    They have held up well in the wash and the variety of colors is perfect for me. I buy the “Bare Necessities” color for white blouses and “tan” for everything else.

    • Whoops – clearly the wrong link! That’s embarrassing. Here’s the Old Navy cami:

    • Agree. I hate white underwear in general–stands out way too much (unless you are the palest person in the wold, perhaps).

  7. I have a larger chest (40DDD) and at 5’10” anything I wear stands out. I can’t seem to find a cami that fits high enough to cover my cleavage and has something besides spaghetti straps. All of my bras have wider straps out of necessity, and by the time I find a cami to cover the straps its a very unappealing tank top. The camis that cover cleavage on others are pulled down too low on me by the time they cover my bust. Any suggestions on brands that work for a larger frame/bust? Surely I can’t be the only one that has this problem!

    • Have you tried Marks & Spencer? I have some older camis from them that are straight across, with a lace panel and they are very high in front. (I wear them for warmth, not necessarily under sheer things). I would think these might work. Also, they cater well to larger sizes. Worth the shipping, IMHO.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I’m a 40G and the best luck I’ve had in the past few years was Target. It is actually a juniors cami and it does have spaghetti straps, but it is cut much higher in the front than others. I managed to find one that is pretty much the same color as my bra, so even though it doesn’t totally cover the strap I think it does ok. I tend to wear them under white t-shirts because nobody can seem to make one that isn’t a little sheer lately so you might not be totally comfortable with how much bra strap is visible under something like a sheer silk blouse.

  8. I coordinate with the color of the blouse: white or nude for lighter shades, mushroom or gray for mid tones and black for black. I wear Yummie camisoles pretty much exclusively. The straps are wide enough that my bra straps don’t show and they fit securely. Negatives: They’re more expensive and the nude color range is limited.

    • +1 to Yummie camisoles. They provide some shaping but are very comfortable.

  9. I have several sheer or nearly sheer blouses and I prefer a cami in a coordinating color or whatever the dominate color of the shirt is. I have one that’s a sheer with a paisley pattern on it and one of the colors in the paisley is a dark navy, so I wear a dark navy cami under it and pair with dark navy pants.

  10. Anonymous :

    I think that a non-nude cami draws attention to the fact that your shirt is sheer, which I dislike. That look reminds me of those dresses with sheer overlays used to be popular in the 90’s/00’s. I have some “nude” tank tops from Uniqlo, but there are only 1 or 2 colors. Also, Hanro and Karen Kane, but also the colors there are probably pretty limited.

  11. I don’t think it’s an “OR” kind of thing- they have different purposes.

    The Nude-for-me cami is for blouses that are just a tad too sheer to go without. They increase the opacity of blouses. And protect the wearer from gaping fronts if the blouse is button-down.

    The white/black camis are for when I need to raise the neckline, or for when the shirt looks intentionally sheer, and I need to provide full coverage.

    • Anonymous :

      Yes, I agree with this. Nude or off-white if it’s only slightly sheer. White or black if it’s more intentionally sheer (for the few work clothes I have that fit this category).

      To me, a white cami under an only slightly sheer shirt is like, “Hello, I am wearing a camisole. And my shirt is slightly sheer. Look at this camisole under this slightly sheer shirt. Look at it. Really, look at it now.” A nude just blends in and avoids showing any shadows that would draw attention to the fact that the shirt is slightly sheer (belly button, shadows created by your bra).

      My fav is the hinge jersey tank at Nordys. Wide straps that cover bra straps, full coverage over the chest, and a couple of off-white/nude shades. I have no issue with seeing the seams under silk tops.

      • Your demanding cami speech makes me laugh. But I agree.

      • Yes! This is exactly why I prefer a nude cami.

        I think Limited makes great seamless camisoles! I love the reversible ones, it’s nice to have an option of scoop or v-neck.

        The “nude” isn’t really nude-for-me but it does the job under sheer blouses. I also have the soft pink and a few of the brighter colors, good for under a cardigan or deep-v neck dress for a little pop of color.

    • When I wear an untucked blouse, I generally prefer to match my camisole to the color of my pants. When I wear a camisole that is a very different shade than my pants, it highlights my waistband (seen through a semi-sheer shirt) in a way that isn’t flattering for me. I prefer a cleaner line where my waistband doesn’t stand out. For me that typically means I’ll wear a black camisole since I wear black pants most often.

      When I wear a shirt tucked in, I take the same approach as Ning describes – nude/white/black/other depends on the shirt.

  12. What do you do if you work in a really conservative office/are religious and need sleeves on your camisoles? Anyone know where to buy something like that?

    • Wouldn’t it be easier to just wear a long-sleeved shirt on top of your camisole?

    • You can go to a religus supply store, where they carry such thing’s even tho they are totaly useless for peeople who do NOT need to have sleeve’s on their cami’s. Sheketovits took me to one when we were dateing and beleive it or not, they sell these shawls and wig’s for women there who do NOT want to show their hair to any man but their husband. That, my freind’s, is religus. I could NOT go thru a marrage to a guy who made me do thing’s like have sex thru a sheet either. I might have had to do that if we got MARRIED. FOOEY!

    • brokentoe :

      Wouldn’t this just be a closely fitted long sleeve t shirt? I would think a camisole by definition does not have sleeves.

    • Are you talking about wearing a cami solo, or under a shirt? If its under a shirt, why would it need to have sleeves ?

      • Anonymous :

        If you’re Mormon, you wouldn’t just need to cover your shoulders, but would also need to make sure that your garment sleeves weren’t visible under your shirt. When the Mormon women in my office wear sheer shirts, they wear close-fitting t-shirts (either short sleeve or long sleeve depending on the sleeves on the blouse) underneath them.

        • Goodness, 3 shirts then! (garment, t-shirt and shirt shirt)! Plus bra! I was just annoyed at having to wear a shirt and cami! It seems like everything is too sheer now.

          • That’s what I’m talking about–I should have said “tee” instead of “camisole.” But it seems the only option is downeast, and they’re really poorly made and come up way higher on the shoulders and in the front than is necessary.

            And yes, everything is shear. Irritating.

          • Re: below- Sheer, not shear.

    • Anonymous :

      There is no such thing as a camisole with sleeves. That is called a t-shirt, and yes, they do exist.

  13. Anonymous Associate :

    I don’t wear camisoles under my blouses for work. I have never even thought to do so. I wear silk blouses and shells a lot, including cream, etc.. Perhaps it comes down to selecting a blouse that isn’t see-through?

  14. Anonymous :

    if my top is obviously see-through, then I would want to wear something matching the color of the top so people *know* there’s something under there. If the top is only a little see-through and I’m just concerned with my bra showing, maybe a “nude” top.

  15. Am I wrong, or was it normal for women to wear sheer blouses with nothing but a bra/slip under them right up through the 80’s? Not recommending anyone do that now, just speculating based on older movies, how I remember my mom dressing, etc. (I’m 32). My sense of the norms back then was that you wanted to avoid your bra showing in the front, but bra strap showing through in the back = totally normal.

    • Moonstone :

      The big difference is that regular blouses were made of more substantial fabric. It was quite rare to have a work-appropriate sheer blouse in the ’80s. (You can trust me — I was there.) Just like T-shirts were made of more substantial fabrics, not tissue-weight slubbed fabric. BUT my stepmother tells me that sheer blouses and fancy camisoles were definitely a thing in the ’50s.

  16. I really like this Spanx camisole and it’s on sale! I wear nude under white and also own the black. Doesn’t roll up and isn’t uncomfortably tight – just smoothing.

  17. Anon in MA :

    I found O Oscar de la Renta camis at Sam’s Club yesterday. 2 pack for about $10. I bought a nude/brown package. They have adjustable spaghetti straps and a shelf bra, up to size XXL (20).

  18. I like a nude camisole under a white blouse that might be a bit sheer. Let that person be awkward looking at my breasts. However, there is also a nice look that is very feminine if you wear a white lacy camisole. That is very pretty.

  19. If I have the option, I’d rather skip the underlayer, they tend to be visible and distracting, and the shirts that require them often don’t have enough structure to be flattering. When I do wear a camisole, it tends to be nude.

    I’ve also been known to wear a lightweight long sleeve shirt as an under layer, particularly when I do not want to wear a jacket all day. In a “casual” work environment, a top layer can be too much of a statement. Suits wear suits and pants, nerds wear hoodies and jeans. Newbies wear cheap suits on the wrong days. To subtly cross between the two groups, I like to wear blue pants, a dress shirt, and an undershirt.

  20. Jokey used to make a nude, very thin tanks and long sleeve undergarments, can’t find them anymore. Anyone seen any lately?