opaque and sheer

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man_on_the_moon

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi. I have a question regarding two words.

Is it possible tights/stocking is opaque and sheer at the same time?
Opaque and sheer is two contradict words when you describe the same stocking/tights?
I mean, if I'm not wrong, opaque tights isn't see-through while sheer tights is see-through.

Thank you.
 
  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The actual definitions of the words are not contradictory. "Sheer" with regard to fabric actually means that the fabric is very thin which usually results in the fabric also being at least translucent, if not transparent. I suppose it is possible to create a fabric that is both sheer and opaque, e.g. a "sheer" canvas (sheer compared to the usual thickness of canvas) might still be thick enough to be opaque, however stockings start out thin so sheer stockings must be very thin.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    AE and BE may differ on this point.

    The Concise OED says that sheer when referring to a fabric simply means "very thin."

    According to the American Heritage Dictionary, however, sheer doesn't simply mean very thin and "usually" translucent and perhaps transparent in describing a fabric; it means "thin, fine, and transparent" [emphasis added].

    So as a speaker and writer of AE, I agree with Kate that the two words are opposites.
     

    man_on_the_moon

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you for your reply and taking your time to look into the dictionaries, Parla. :)
    The article is that of a British newspaper.

    My (not concise) OED electric dictionary says "thin, light, almost transparent."
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    According to the American Heritage Dictionary, however, sheer doesn't simply mean very thin and "usually" translucent and perhaps transparent in describing a fabric; it means "thin, fine, and transparent" [emphasis added].
    I'd say that's a case of a dictionary over-simplifying in order to give a short, simple definition. One of their definitions for "transparent" is "sheer" so of course it works perfectly. ;)
    I would not consider most sheer fabrics to be transparent (i.e. transparent like glass). With many sheer curtains (aka sheers), you can barely make out large shapes and blocks of color through them, if even that much. Even stockings aren't transparent (ever worn one over your head like a bank robber? :) ).
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    That costume (in the picture) is made of a pattern which is sheer (transparent/translucent) in some place and opaque in others. The pattern is made up of contrasting areas, some of which show the skin (and underwear) beneath, and some of which do not.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think the writer has made an error. The 'usual' uniform is sheer tights and a bra, and that's what the girl is wearing in the lower photos. For her arrival in LA she was wearing, by contrast, opaque patterned tights, but later she clearly changed into sheer ones: notice that she also changed her jacket, but is wearing the same platform shoes. It's possible that the caption has been placed on the wrong photo.
     

    man_on_the_moon

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you for your reply, Thomas Tompion. :)

    The title of the article says "steps out in sheer tights and bra again as she nips to Starbucks," while in the article it says "The 26-year-old nipped out to Starbucks in LA yesterday wearing patterned black opaque tights," describing the same tights. Sheer and opaque contradicts so I was confused. I think the writer shouldn't have used the word "opaque" because, through the tights the writer describes as "opaque," you can see her underwear.

     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    -
    Swedish
    I think the writer shouldn't have used the word "opaque" because, through the tights the writer describes as "opaque," you can see her underwear.
    It is possible to see the underwear even if someone is wearing a pair of opaque tights, unless the "pants part" is made in a reinforced manner to prevent the underwear showing through. You can make an image search for "opaque tights" and you will find tights where the leg part is totally opaque but where the upper part is stretched thin enough to show the models derriere (the models are for obvious reasons shown from the behind) and if they would be wearing underwear it would show.
     

    man_on_the_moon

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks for your reply, AutumnOwl. :)

    After image searching by "opaque tights," I found out that some "opaque" tights are sheer. That's probably because tights themseves are thin in the first place.
     
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