“They disappear like magic and become a fluid extension of her legs, as in a sketch, elongating the silhouette.”
– Christian Louboutin, shoe god
The nude shoe. It’s a shoe in a color that comes as close as possible to blending in with your skin tone, and it’s been a hot trend for so many years that the fashion world is saying it’s a classic here to stay. From the castles of Great Britain to the streets of America , you can walk or click into virtually any shoe store and find a pair that works for you- unless you are a darker person of color.
For at least four seasons now, lighter skinned people have had easy access to an overwhelming selection of shoes in colors specifically designed to neutrally complement their skin, and they can often find such shoes in the section named “nude.” The same can’t be said for people who look like me, which has consistently frustrated my shoe shopping endeavors. The trend of labeling one color group “nude”, as if nude is not a relative color, also frustrates my brain- “nude” literally means “naked” or “skin colored” so applying it only to light beige-ish colors implies that the color of my skin isn’t actually a normal skin color. This just one of example the normalization of white skin across the fashion and personal care industries (and even the coloring crayon industry- the Crayola color we now know as “peach” used to be named “flesh.”) It also exemplifies the erasure of people of color (and black women in particular) even though we make up over one third of America’s consumer base. And the normalization of whiteness in fashion seems to be a particularly easy form of white supremacy to internalize and excuse- below you can see a black woman in the comment section of an article about nude shoes trying to use the dictionary to prove that “nude” really does just mean beige because that is the color family of white people’s skin:
Now, can darker folks still flawlessly rock tan or beige foot gear? Absolutely. But it’s just that- wearing a tan or beige shoe as a color because it looks good with your outfit, not wearing it as a nude. And there are brown shoes out there, obviously, but very few that are designed to blend in with the shades of brown than humans actually come in.
So what can we darker folks do when we want a barely-there look on our feet that makes a colorful ensemble pop? When black, navy, or white just look too harsh? When we want to invest in a pair of shoes that literally goes with everything? When we want to “elongate our silhouettes?”
We can hope that shoe designers follow the lead of Louboutin and start designing nude collections with us in mind. But in the meantime, I have scoured the web for you, my friends, and I’ve got some suggestions!
Think: Janet Mock, Mindy Kaling, Taraji P. Henson, Nicole Behari, Erykah Badu
Key Search Terms: Caramel, Cognac, Tan, Taupe
- Mix No. 6 Madeleine Pump in Tan – $39.95
- Corso Como Craven in Caramel -$49.99
- Jessica Simpson Oscar in Cognac – $59
- Zigi Soho Koopa in Tan- $70
- Aldo’s Agriria in Cognac – $80
- Michael Kors MK Flex in Luggage Saffiano – $99
- Steve Madden Dejavu in Cognac – $99
- Sergio Rossi Leather Zipper Platform in Cognac- $299
Open Toe Pumps
- Kelly and Katie Dory Platform in Cognac – $49.95
- 2 Lips Too Too in Tan – $50
- Guess Busy in Cognac- 69.95
- Me Too Winoma in Cognac $39.95
- Ziggo Soho Raleigh in Cognacc $49.95
- Nine West Gade in Taupe – $59.99
- CL by Laundry Valid in Cognac – 35
- Kenneth Cole Reaction Women’s Slip on Ballet Flat in Whiskey $40
- Steve Madden Kilter in Cognac – $47
- BP Moveover in Cognac $49
- Aldo Saewien in Cognac $65
- Vince Camuto Ellen Flat in Fudge – $78
- Earth Bellwether in Almond Leather – $94
- Frye Regina Flat in Cognac- $127
- Frye Carson Ballet Flat in Cognac- $147
Think: Janelle Monae, Gabourey Sidibe, Franchesca Ramsey, Kelly Rowland, Gabrielle Union, Amber Riley
Key Seach Terms: Cognac, Brown, Polo/Leather Tan, Smoke Taupe
- Nine West Chelsea Platform in Cognac- $30
- Lauren by Ralph Lauren Adena in Polo Tan – $55.42
- Vinca Camuto Naureen in Smoke Taupe – $60
- Franco Sarto Orlina in Desert Camel- $89
- Sesto Meucci Mafalda in Cognac $129.95
- Rockport Seven to 7 in Noce- $140
- Louboutin Pigalle in Safki – $625
- Jimmy Choo Allure in Taupe – $625
Open Toe Pumps
- Unlisted Bond Girl 2 in Cognac – $50
- Calvin Klein Drina in Cognac – $59.95
- Elliott Lucca Andrea in Light Taupe – $78.95
- Clarks Cynthia Fest in Luggage Tan Leather- $89
- Aldo’s Gwaydien in Cognac – $80
- Express Sky High Sandal in Cognac- $88
- Lauren by Ralph Lauren Sasha in Polo Tan Leather – $89
- Ollio Pointed Toe Weave Comfort in Brown – $17.00
- City Classified Sadler in Cognac – 26
- Report Simba Flat in Tan- 39.95
- Naturalizer Maude Ballet Flat in Coffeebean – 48
- VanEli Alric in Cognac – 59
- Tilda Anya in in Cognac – 59
Think: Lupita N’yongo to Alek Wek
Key Search Terms: Brown, Dark Brown, Espresso
- Nine West Fanesa in Dark Brown $44.99
- Nine West Regola in Dark Leather $59.99
- BCBGeneration Cielo in Driftwood Leather- $89
- Louboutin Pigalle in Ada – $625
Open Toe Pumps
Anne Taylor Sophia Satin in Espresso- $124
Matissee Balanced Bootie in Cognac – $64
- LifeStride Diva in Bronzeen Fant – 30
- Circus by Sam Edelman Ali in Army Green – 42
- VanEli Serene in Castagna – 114
- Frye Regina Flat in Dark Brown- 127
Ok friends, so I’ve got some suggestions for a couple other things that are handy to have in nude as well!
Urban Armour Skin Tone Bandages. ($5.29, 30 ct.) You know you wanna tack them on to your next Amazon order.
Bras, Panties, and Lingerie
- MySkins offers bras ($60), panties ($12), and lingerie in 20 different shades! TWENTY. My very pale friends, you might want to get in on this too.
- Victoria’s Secret has some lovely bra options in Mocha
- Bravissimo (sizes 28-40, D-L!) offers some bras and lingerie in Mink, Hazelnut, and Mocha
- True offers it’s bra Hidden Glamour in a nice brown color ($68)
Pantyhose, Tights, and Stockings
- Brown Sugar pantyhose. If you are blessed, you can find them at your local Walgreens or WalMart.
- Dancer? Shades of Dance, offering both adult and kid’s dance legwear for brown skin, has got you covered.
- Debenhams is a UK company that offers delightfully sheer pantyhose specifically to provide a bare look and avoid distorting dark skin.
- Mytights.com allows you to search for tights and stockings by skintone. There’s more Moka, Hazelnut, and Nutmeg tights than you’ll ever need.
The Lingerie Addict has many more good recommendations!
The Guardian has some good suggestions. I would add to the list:
That’s all I’ve got! What dark girl nude suggestions do you have?