For as long as any of us can probably remember, nude in fashion has meant just one thing: a peachy, pale beige—ostensibly meant to blend into the skin, lengthen limbs, and act as a neutral base layer to build your outfit upon.
In magazines, spreads of shimmery peach dresses, “elongating” beige pumps, and creamy dress pants would invariably be given some suggestive-yet-tasteful title like “In the Nude,” and tout the versatility of such “flesh-tone” pieces. The shade even has the official seal of approval from Pantone.
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Of course, there’s one glaring problem with this: Nude, by its literal definition, is supposed to match the wearer’s skin tone, and for many people—especially women of color—this simply isn’t the case. Obvious though this might seem, it’s an issue that’s been ignored by clothing, lingerie, and accessories companies for decades, and only recently have plucky startups been able to gain enough traction to come along and fill in the gaps, offering wider ranges of flesh-tone pieces for darker-skinned women. In retail terms, it’s still very early days, since many of these brands are still in their first year or so of existence, but still: Tides seem to be shifting toward more inclusive selections and away from the one-shade-fits-all standard of years past.
And, hey, it’s about time: Crayola changed its “Flesh”-colored crayon to “Peach” in 1962—what’s taken the fashion industry another half century or so to catch up?
Ahead, meet some of the pioneering brands giving women of all skin tones nudes they can finally use.