You know, it’s hard out here for a butterscotch-colored chick. After my favorite flats bit the dust -- the patent leather ones that exactly matched my skintone and went with everything -- I went searching for a replacement pair that would make my feet just as comfy and match my shade just as well.
Fashion has heralded the idea of the “nude” shoe for years, and for good reason: A good flesh-toned shoe is your utility player, an all-around neutral that will match with anything in your closet effortlessly. (I switched into my flats at my brother’s wedding reception when my stilettos had reached their time limit.) AND, if you’re showing off a little leg, a nude shoe will make it look like they go on for days.
Kate Middleton won hearts and minds by repeatedly stepping out in a (relatively reasonable) $300 pair of sand-colored pumps, and Michelle Obama always makes my heart flutter when she’s spotted in those cocoa kitten heels.
The problem with “nude” though, is that it usually isn’t for everyone.
To put it more bluntly -- “nude” often only applies to white people. For the rest of us, Black, Latina, Southeast Asian or otherwise, finding clothing or shoes that match our skin tones requires deploying a wider vocabulary of “fashion” colors -- “honey,” “cognac,” “tan,” “taupe,” “cocoa,” or just plain “brown” -- and a whole lot of trial-and-error searching.
So when I saw the new Christian Louboutin campaign for his line of shoes called “Nudes” -- that’s nudes, plural, meaning more than one -- I instantly went into celebratory dancer mode (“YAAAAAAAS! WORRRRRK!”) and shared with friends.
It’s a great concept -- Louboutin offers his most classic styles in a nude for every girl, five shades in all. They even launched an app to help you pick your perfect hue. And with a range that spans from the lightest of ivory to a deep chestnut, Louboutin is one of the first high-end brands to offer products specifically embracing fashionistas of all colors.
There’s that tricky phrase though: High-end. Loubies start -- START! -- at $500 a pair. Much as I may covet a pair of butterscotch red bottoms, my grad student budgets demands I shop elsewhere. To that end, here are my top six picks gals who can't afford the real thing but are still looking for their perfect nude:
If you’re ivory:
The classic heel gets a little sexier with cut-away sides. Don’t worry, you can still walk the office with these -- and then strut to happy hour right afterward.
If you’re beige:
A chic pump never goes out of style. And Enzo Angiolini is one of my favorite brands, thanks to great construction, quality materials, a comfy fit and reasonable prices.
If you’re tan (like me!):
Bandolino’s stacked-heel wedges will make you strut like a city girl. I envision these peeking out from under a pair of long-length bootcut jeans, or accessorizing your favorite pencil skirt.
If you’re caramel
These wedges from Clarks have the double-whammy of being stylish AND wearable. Wedge heels provide comfort and stability, while the almond-toe pump styling makes the shoe suitable for work AND for a weekend night on the town.
If you’re honey brown
Nine West is good ol’ reliable when it comes to finding a utility pump. These kitten heels play nice with your work wardrobe and make a dainty addition to your favorite A-line dress.
If you’re deep cocoa:
Another Nine West contender, this time in the classic pump silhouette. This style actually comes in its own range of “nudes” -- and could probably give the Louboutin a run for their money among budget conscious shoppers.
To be honest, compiling this list was a lot more involved than just signing onto Zappos and typing in “nude pump.” Do a Google search for “nude” anything and you’ll invariably come up with options that only match those of us with ivory or beige skin. Back in 2010, when magazines were touting “nude” as the hot color of the year, the shade they featured was actually a warm beige -- nude for only a few. All the more reason why the Nudes campaign by Louboutin is so necessary and important.
I'm hopeful that the Louboutin push will be game-changing, and that eventually the plural in nude will trickle all the way down to those of us armed with coupon codes for DSW.