Never Nude?

There has been so much heated talk about ‘nude’ in fashion lately that seeing this article from Elle blogs about the runway nails trend was a breath of fresh air.  It seems to me that nude is not necessarily a good name for color, but it’s worth noting that nude is a great look concept – for example, “mannequin hands”.  OPI has developed several shades with a nude palette in mind, like a color story instead of one catch-all color.

Using “nude” as more of a color theory and a set of “tones”, rather than a color description means more matching things to your own skin tone (like foundation, girls).  It means that a nude shoe is totally your unique experience because you want something that blends to make your leg look longer.  You’re looking for something within a range of colors that suits you – it could be sand, it could be tawny, it could be porcelain, it could be honey or toffee.   Calling things a “nude trend” indicates that what’s “in” is your skin tone – where the model it’s on (you) dictates what “nude” is.

Once more for the ladies:  to wear the nude tones means picking things that complement your own skin.

Maybe to change this whole concept of “nude” and the angry debates over skin tones that follow, we need to just realize that the wide consensus is this: there’s no specific color for the term nude, much like the term “chocolate” could be indicative of a variety of shades.

Ashe Mischief asks, “Are you going to be mad that a shade of brown is described as chocolate and it doesn’t match your skin if you’re African American? That you’re dark chocolate colored and not milk chocolate colored? Or not amaretto caramel fudge colored?  I am damn disappointed my flesh is not named after yummy candy, and I get disappointing words like beige and taupe (which are too yellow for me).  What do I get?  Peach? Fuck that shit.  You can call me Petit Four White, please.”

Nude tones are as varied as the people on this planet.  Use a nude palette as your color theory instead of a considering the color like a Pantone swatch.  “‘Nude’ covers an array of shades like whites, pinks, yellows, beiges, ivories and browns, so why get bogged down by terminology?”

Manufacturers and designers know that nude is a palette – using names like chai, wheat, and flax within the group of nude tones.   It only seems to be reporters and mags who are still in the dark.  In thinking about the underlying semantics, we have the ability to shed a conscious light on a wide palette of colors and make nude tones more accessible.  As Michelle from Wicked Whimsy reminds us, “fashion magazines have a tendency to use the narrowest selection of models possible.”  So when Marie Claire does that mag shoot for “nude”, we expect it might all be “porcelain”, which is a nude tone on the ONE white model they used (why were there not other models? Budget cuts maybe?  That’s a different problem in itself).  We all know damn well, those models aren’t representative of a wide majority of people in any way, shape or form.

Image from

Image from

Hell, even I know that most nude tones (including that Marie Claire photo) would never match my skin tone with its ruddy pink here, brown there and delicious freckles.  It’s worth noting though, that the term nude is not that big a deal since it’s consistently considered a palette rather than one specific color (Pantone?  You hear me?  Nude isn’t a color, dudes.  Even CRAYOLA says so).   Picking a nude tone is like picking a foundation off a rack of different tones.  Brush off that anger because the world is ignorant (yes, darling.  It’s true, but as Ashe mentioned, “you’re making mountains out of molehills”.  Anger gets us nowhere.) … and maybe send Marie Claire a *nice* note about using more variety in their models instead of being angry at the fashion world for the name of one of it’s color palettes.