How fashion is finally embracing shades for all skin tones

How fashion is finally embracing shades for all skin tones

“Nude is a concept, not a colour,” the luxury designer Christian Louboutin said last year, when the brand extended its nude shoe offering to include chic pointed flats in seven shades of caramels and creams. Why? Because, as the adage goes, there’s nothing more leg-lengthening than a nude shoe. Meghan Markle wears hers with cocktail dresses and leather leggings alike. The Duchess of Cambridge wears hers with, well, everything, single-handedly boosting L K Bennett’s sales, and Anna Wintour, the US editor of Vogue, is rarely seen out of her nude Manolos.

Called Seamfree Air True To You Shades, the line of underwear (and one bralette) includes a thong, bikini, brief, hi-cut brief, and hipster options. Not only does the nude collection comes in five different shades, but they also feel like heaven, due to its light-as-air fabric. Exclusively at Macy’s, you can buy each pair of underwear for $13 each, or three for $33. The bralette is sold separately, at $25.

Thanks to Jockey’s new line and other designers’ commitments, the industry is definitely moving in the right direction — though there’s still a long way to go. For most of childhood, if you picked out a “nude” crayon out of the perfectly organized Crayola box, you’d find a pale, tan color that most people used to color in legs, arms, faces, hands — you name it. Nude had only one option.

Thanks to an awakening of some brands — whether that’s beauty or fashion — the definition of “nude” isn’t tied to just one specific skin tone.

Back in January, shoe brand Kahmune came out with a nude shoe line with 10 different shades. And in 2016, Surratt Beauty introduced the Surreal Real Skin Foundation Wand, which came in a whopping 15 different shades. When 2017 came, Dior added even more shades
to its Diorskin Forever Foundation, making for 24 total shades, including three different shades of almond and a “deepened beige called Praline,” according to The New York Times.

As Louboutin spotted, there are nudes and there are nudes – no two skintones are exactly alike, and will probably change from winter to summer. Generally, the term “nude” is used to describe pinky-beige, a dozen shades lighter than my own mixed-race skin, and
also miles from a match for my colleagues, from the fair-skinned to Asian; the idea of a “universal” nude is no more achievable than a foundation shade that will work on anyone. Thankfully, Louboutin isn’t alone – high street giant ASOS offers their classic court shoes in four skin-tones, and elsewhere, brands are now offering a scale of nude shades in everything from make-up to lingerie.

Beauty experts are searching for the perfect nude, too. Sonia Haria, The Daily Telegraph ’s beauty director, admits to having issues finding make-up to suit the cool, peachy undertones of her Indian skin, but says: “Many beauty brands have become better at
understanding the difference in undertones for darker skin types. They’ve realised it can’t just be an added extra shade thrown onto the end of a range – but there’s still some way to go until that’s a given.”

Years ago, at university, a friend and I could only laugh (and email customer services) when the “nude” shapewear knickers I bought showed up like white cycling shorts against my brown legs. Now? Brands are cottoning on, and catering for a variety of skin tones –
so when it comes to those leg-lengthening shoes, the world’s your oyster. Or berry. Or café au lait.

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