4 Nude Lingerie Options for a Range of Skintones

cosabella trenta skintone

Let’s talk nude lingerie.

Very often, when people ask me for a “nude” lingerie recommendation, they mean beige (or similarly light skintones). Again and again, in lingerie collections I see every season, it’s taken for granted that “nude” equals light, and some lingerie retailers have even gone so far as to insist that this one shade of nude is suitable for all skin colors! I had one memorable experience in Nordstrom a few months ago where a bra sellers insisted I needed a nude bra…and then offered me a beige one. When I said, “I don’t think that’s a nude for my skintone,” she looked shocked…as though she’d never even considered the possibility that women with different complexions would require different shades of nude. And this wasn’t the only time that’s happened.

wacoal natural nude

In one particularly egregious example of equating “nude” with beige, Wacoal, one of the largest intimate apparel companies in the world, offers a light, creamy tones called “natural nude.” As you’ve probably guessed (and can see from the photo above), “natural nude” refers to a light beige. Wacoal makes amazing bras in a wide range of sizes; I own several of them. But one has to wonder, does Wacoal believe women with dark skin are unnaturally nude? Language matters. An adjective like “natural” appended before a skintone color makes some unsettling implications about the company’s perception of skin color.

Unfortunately, as with many subjects of this nature, this is a topic that’s very rarely discussed in the lingerie industry. My fellow lingerie bloggers, The Lingerie Lesbian and Sweet Nothings, have both written excellent pieces on the topic (and, of course, we’ve talked about it here it before on TLA), but more often than not, the whole “nude does not equal beige” thing is treated as a lesser issue…one that isn’t even worth mentioning, much less seriously considering.

The reason this is important is because centering one skintone as “normal” or “natural” automatically displaces women with darker skintones and others them as unusual or abnormal (trust me when I say women of color are not rare). In the worst instances, as in the case with Wacoal, women with dark skin are implied to be “unnatural.” It’s a steady, constant reminder (one of many) that lingerie companies just aren’t thinking about women of color. A name like “naturally nude” belongs in the same historical trash heap the crayon color “flesh” does. It’s archaic, outdated, and, to be perfectly honest, ignorant. The entire idea behind “nude” lingerie  is that it should fade into your skin and be perfectly invisible. Yet when only one shade is ever defined as nude, you have to ask, “Which skintone are lingerie designers thinking of?” The answer is obvious. Not mine.

One of our previous articles on nude lingerie featuring hosiery options for darker skintones. Click the photo to read.

That said, some companies have gotten the message, and they’ve released beautiful lingerie in a range of skintones. Yes, I said a range. Not just one beige color and one brown color, but a variety of gorgeous tones that can work for women with a variety of complexions. Many of these items were released without much fanfare (or at least, not as much fanfare as other sorts of product releases get); they were just quietly incorporated into the company’s existing offerings.

As a dark-complected woman who also writes about lingerie, I want to mention that it’s vitally important to support lingerie companies when they extend their product ranges in this way. There’s this impression that women of color aren’t an important demographic in the lingerie industry; that their concerns should come second, third, fourth, or fifth to other issues. If you like the items featured in this post, please consider buying them or telling your friends about them (there are no affiliate links here). And if there’s someone for whom you think this article would be particularly useful, please share it with them. I want products like these to be available for years to come.

Besides the lingerie featured below, what are your favorite “nude” pieces that come in a range of skintones? Please share in the comments and help make this post a resource for everyone!

Cosabella Trenta Skintone Panties

cosabella trenta skintone

First things first, I’m not going to suggest any uncomfortable lingerie here. Yes, we’re going to talk about lingerie in a range of skintones, but it’s gonna be good stuff in a range of shades. Things you’ll be happy to own, not dreading to buy. And we’ll start with these Cosabella Trenta Skintone Thongs, which are, in a word, amazing. I don’t even like thongs, but I wear one of these, and I completely forget I have it on. The company offers a 5-pack if you’re not sure which color to buy, but they also sell them individually if you just want to get a baker’s dozen to have on hand. And if thongs aren’t your thing ever, that’s okay too.  The Trenta lace also comes in a hotpant/boyshort with the same range of skintones available (it too, is amazingly comfortable). Fair warning: they do call one of the colors “nude,” which, to be clear, is not okay with me. However, there is no other panty company that has such a wide range of nude colors available right now. I’m going to ask (and keep asking) if they’d be willing to change the color name for that shade. It’s a distressing, unnecessary distraction on an otherwise great product.

 

Hanky Panky BARE Collection

6J1661_neutrals

I love Hanky Panky. I love them so, so much. Not only do they make some of the most comfortable knickers on the planet, they’re now answering another need…seamless lingerie in multiple skintones (I took photos of their BARE collection at the last lingerie market here and here). Hanky Panky’s BARE range offers four nude shades: a very light “vanilla,” a light “taupe,” a mid-range “toffee,” and a deep “mahogany.” Edges are seamless, and the microfiber these undergarments are made from is so soft and light, it’s unreal. Hanky Panky also makes the greatest range of silhouettes in this post: a tank, a bralette, a g-string, a thong, a high-waist thong, and a boyshort. I have a set of samples to try, and I’m looking forward to reporting back with a review later on.

 

Nude Barre Hosiery

nude barre hosiery

We can’t talk about nude lingerie without also talking about hosiery (you understand the struggle if you’ve ever needed a pair of skintone pantyhose), and Nude Barre is making everyone else look bad with 16  – yes, 16! – nude colors. Founded by a professional dancer who had trouble finding tights to match her skin color, Nude Barre sells a wide range of styles, from opaque tights to fishnet tights to crystallized tights (I want these so badly I don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t even know where to wear them; I just want ‘em). Nude Barre even sells children’s tights! Point blank: no one has the variety they have does right now. This is a company that I hope makes a serious dent in the legwear market.

Nippies ‘Skin’ Nipple Covers

nippies skin

I go braless a lot. Like, a lot, a lot.  Probably about a third of the time I’m awake if you added it all together, and I never wear a bra when I’m sleeping.  I like bras, love them even, but I also like the feeling of not wearing a bra. It’s just one of several, equally desirable options. That said, there are times I want to go braless but still keep my nipples covered for whatever reason. Nipple petals are one way to do this, but most only come in (you guessed it) one shade. And what’s the point of covering my nipples with the sartorial equivalent of headlights? It’s not as if a beige circle is going to just disappear into my skin. That’s why I love Nippies. Their silicone nipple covers not only come in three shades (light, medium, and dark), they’re made of silicone so you can wash and reuse. These are my go-to when I’m going braless and want a smooth profile. You could definitely say I’m a fan.

 

As I said above, I hope you’ll share your own nude lingerie favorites here, particularly if you know of a bra company that’s really doing awesome things with skintone shades (and especially if they’re going beyond the usual 1 beige/1 brown). It’s always good to know what’s out there!

Cora

Cora

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. I started TLA in a small studio apartment in 2008. Since then, it's become the leading lingerie blog in the world, and has been featured on the websites for Forbes, CNN, Time, Today, and Fox News. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that every who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

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15 Comments

  1. Julia
    17/07/14 at 12:03

    I am so thrilled you decided to write a post on this issue. I’m a fair (frankly, quite pale) woman and while I don’t have too many problems finding lingerie to match my skin tone, I find it demeaning for lingerie companies to use the term “nude” for only one shade. I’m a professional bra fitter too, and the company I work for sells Wacoal bras and although Wacoal labels their tags “Naturally Nude” I ALWAYS use the term beige regardless of what color the woman is that I am fitting. I’m glad you found this issue significant enough to write a post on, as I was feeling quite alone on the subject. Here’s to hoping the industry takes a stand and companies change their ways!

    As a side note, Natori company also marks their beige bras as “cafe” which I am pleased with and believe the term cafe is also suitable for labeling shades.

  2. 17/07/14 at 12:11

    Great post! This is an issue I’ve struggled with many times. Just recently I found out Freya is re-releasing my beloved Rio in a beige shade they’ve termed “naturally nude.” I emailed them to explain that this name was exclusionary, and requested they simply call the shade beige- but got no response. Sigh.

    As to my favourite “nude.” option, I love the Prima Donna bras (Menton and Satin come to mind) available in a colour they call cognac- a rich golden shade that works great for women with deep olive toned skin. Last time we saw Simone Perele they discussed working towards releasing a wider variety of nude tones – great news!

    • Ellen
      17/07/14 at 20:57

      I wrote a little about this in my post below, but wanted to add after reading your post. Sadly, PD has vastly whittled down their offerings in Menton as the full cup in black is the only bra listed for the upcoming season. Satin looks the same. However, like I mentioned below, the MJ Avero is not listed in Cognac for the FW 2014 collection. It wasn’t always a popular option with us, but a nice one to have on hand.

  3. 17/07/14 at 12:12

    I own a pair of Nude Barre tights and they are the first tights where ‘nude’ isn’t darker than my own skin tone. I wore through a pair of their fishnets already that were amazing… I couldn’t believe they actually matched my skin. I am totally interested in some good nude underwear too. <3

  4. Evija
    17/07/14 at 13:26

    I’m not one for hats, therefore, an imaginary hat off to you, Cora, for this excellent post.
    Here are my additions to the list (but please bear in mind that my natural skintone could be best described as “so ghostly pale beige looks like coffee on me, but not bleached white”):

    1) Sloggi. http://uk.triumph.com/lingerie/1000000,en_GB,sc.html?prefn1=brand&prefv1=sloggi
    The link is to UK store, but it’s worth exploring. The tone I selected is “skin”. Someone close to me swears by Sloggi as the go-to in terms of washing and longevity, and I have no doubts on that account.
    2) Gossard. I’ve worn their stuff – ages ago, but I was impressed. Their colour options are really, really good. Sizing, pricing, too.. I feel like I’m going to need a fix.
    http://www.gossard.com/

    Hope you found these two useful. This is the stuff I’ve personally tried (or know next to everything about), so these are totally, absolutely worth it.

  5. This is a personal pet peeve of mine as well, and I purposefully use “beige” to refer to anything deemed “nude,” “naked,” or “flesh” when speaking with customers, regardless of whether it is the term the company uses. It’s insulting to other women, and many companies are guilty (including all of the Eveden brands, Panache, and Curvy Kate). However, I have to give a small defense for Wacoal because I feel it differentiates itself in a positive way. Is there use of “Naturally Nude” blatantly wrong? Of course! I would never say different. But, Wacoal is actually one of the few companies offering multiple neutral colors in nearly every one of their styles. I think that’s what makes their description so sad. Eveden is notorious for black and beige (if you’re lucky) as the only options. It’s taken them nearly two years to put out the Elomi Rita in black, but it’s been available in white and honey since the beginning. Wacoal, while needing to update their terminology to be more inclusive and respectful, at least tries for more diversity in colors. This is also true of their sister line b.tempt’d. It’s not unusual to see a bra from them offered in a beige, a mocha/cappuccino/cinnamon, coffee/chocolate, and/or black. Does it excuse their word use? Never. But, I think it provides a little balance to note that unlike some of these other companies also shamefully using the term “nude,” they actually do offer multiple skin tone options for women. Perhaps your post will give them the incentive they need to take the next step and rename “Naturally Nude” to something less offensive and more representative of the skin tone diversity they are obviously trying to embrace. :)

    • Ellen
      17/07/14 at 20:51

      I actually really like the Honey Rita since it has a nice golden tone to it, as opposed to most other beige colors. I agree though, Eveden’s focus on black and tan is overkill and I have also wondered “what was up?” with their delay in getting out a Rita in black.

  6. Ellen
    17/07/14 at 17:58

    I really like this article! I actually wrote a paper for grad school relating a lot to “nude” and merchandise like lingerie and makeup. As a fitter, I REALLY wish there were more options to offer my clients in terms of “skin tone neutral” colors . Recently, I found out Marie Jo had discontinued their Avero in Cognac, which is too bad since it was a nice shade for bronzer skin tones. And when we fit someone who is darker and doesn’t want colorful lingerie (ok, what!?!?), my choices oftentimes come down to tan, white, or black and I’ll grab the black one to have it be the closest, but I feel like its actually exemplifying differences. Personally, when fitting, I’d much rather have the choice among black, white and a more medium shade of brown for the three standard lingerie color options rather than disgusting “nude”. (Can you tell I hate “nude”?)

  7. 17/07/14 at 20:40

    Love this! Sometime last year I ordered a skin tone color card from MySkins website, but I never got around to ordering from them. I was impressed that they carry 20 different colors, but unfortunately they have limited bra sizes. I would still try their bottoms though!

  8. Donalda Reid
    17/07/14 at 20:55

    Since I sell lingerie in Jamaica where my customers are so many different shades, I struggle with the whole “nude” thing (I refuse to call it Nude and refer to it as beige) and am thrilled when a bra line offers anything in a Mocha or brown or a darker beige because I know it will be a hit. Curvy Kate Daily Boost in Mocha, Panache Tango in Chocolate…Claudette Dessous in Godiva, Chinchilla and “American Tan” look wonderful on many of my customers. Sadly these tend to be “fashion” items and not available consistently. My customers typically opt for black but I feel the industry is short changing them.

  9. jessa
    18/07/14 at 9:23

    I’d imagine this must be a particular issue for people who are already in a limited options market sector (plus-size, full bust etc). I don’t understand why companies have not just wised up and changed their wording – it feels like this has been discussed a lot and it’s not like it’d be a hugely difficult change to make. I can see that producing a range of colours for different skin tones involves a lot of planning and work, but just changing a description should be relatively straightforward if you think it’s important. Very frustrating. I’m as pale as driven snow and I rarely wear nude in any case – white and me don’t get along, but out of curiosity, what colour bra would a dark-skinned black woman choose to wear under a white top? I’d imagine beige would be seen because of the difference in skin tone, but wouldn’t a dark brown also come through?

  10. 19/07/14 at 3:49

    It drives me nuts to see a bra labeled “nude” or “flesh.” I hope you keep writing posts about this issue and that the lingerie companies pay attention.

  11. Auna
    19/07/14 at 19:39

    Thank you so much for sharing these! I’ve been frustrated with the “nude” market myself, but I’m on the opposite end of the complexion spectrum. I have extremely pale skin (a gift and curse from my primarily Dutch ancestry) and own the lightest nude bra I’ve ever been able to find: medium-dark honey gold with a pinkish undertone. I really appreciate having truly nude options!

  12. chrys
    12/08/14 at 5:18

    While I’m ecstatic they a company considers more shades of skin to be the color “nude”, I find myself hard pressed to buy anything that compares my skin to a mudslide.

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