Whose ‘nude’? Fashion debates a loaded color term

Associated Press | 5/25/2010, 11:33 a.m.

A sparkly neutral number is a best seller for reality show star-turned-designer Whitney Port, who says she was finding herself so drawn to “flesh tones” when shopping for herself that she made them a big part of her Whitney Eve clothing line.

“I pretty much call it flesh tones. I use the word nude, but there’s really an array of shades that covers it could be mustardy, cream or blush,” she says. “They’re colors that look great on any color skin; it’s a group of universally pleasing colors.”

Celebrity stylist David Zyla breaks down the nude spectrum into five categories - whites, pinks, yellows, beiges and browns - and offers more than 30 narrowed-down names, including porcelain, tawny beige and toasted golden brown.

“There is nothing on a woman more beautiful than having them wear their essence or skin tone,” says Zyla, author of “The Color of Style.” “It’s about the woman and this drape of fabric around her, not about a jeweled collar or puffed sleeve or big skirt.”

Roland says she considers nude a range of shades, and loves working with the palette. “Colors are loud. Nudes are a soft whisper, a sexy and elegant whisper. Nude allows a woman to wear her dress instead of the dress wearing her. It’s very elegant.”

The woman who wears nude is suggesting what might be underneath, expressing “her most basic self,” Zyla says. And perhaps that is why changing the name, or using many, makes sense.

“We’re in a place in fashion where women are wanting to express their own unique selves,” Zyla says. “This array of essence colors is very individual.”

Associated Press