Let me tell you a little bit about my relationship with the colour ‘nude’. Most of the time as a child I didn’t even realise that my ballet shoes and plasters were even supposed to be skin-coloured. They were never anywhere close to my hue and therefore seemed like a bit of a random beige choice (if you need any more evidence of my naivety, I only just realised this last year). The mainstream definition of nude is probably a whole other post in itself…
I’d managed to avoid the stresses of finding nude tights for a while, purely because I was in my crazy brights phase and didn’t even contemplate going for a bit of a minimal look. When that day did come however, I did the thing I always did when it came to anything shade-related and asked my Mum. She probably said something like ‘You can either buy this really specific M&S pair that you have to order online or make do with the generic ‘nearly black’ shade.’ Cue me buying my pairs four at a time whenever I remembered and even getting my Nan to hunt down the colour ‘Cocoa’ in her local branch.
Nude tights tend to get a bit of a bad rap when it comes to the fashion magazines, but it seems they’re rarely referring to darker skin tones. There’s a certain American Tan association not to mention Nora Batty. I however swear by them in times of freezing or confusing weather and they’re a practical option if you want that ‘fashion’ look but don’t have unlimited Uber funds. The key is to find a decent sheer quality that matches your skin tone and since a few new companies have popped up, I thought I’d share a few options I swear by (for your reference I’m a Mac Matchmaster 8.0, YSL B80 and Nars Polynesia). Most of the time people can’t even spot them, so I get weird looks if I appear bare-legged in February (when in reality I’ve got three pairs on).
So I championed this Apprentice finalist back in 2014 and now I’m wearing her tights! I’m so glad that Bianca Miller managed to secure funding and get the right balance of skin tones for the final range. I decided to pop into Topshop to work out my shade and spent a good few minutes trying to decide between Chestnut and Chocolate.
My tip is to go slightly darker if you’re stuck, as a lighter colour tends to look a bit ashy. These are perhaps a little darker than I’d like but a lovely quality nonetheless with that all-important reinforced toe (I did manage to get a hole in the heel on the second wear though). This is probably a brand worth trying if you’re one of those ‘in-betweeny’ shades regardless of race (they go from a Dita Von Teese powder shade to gorgeous Lupita).
Verdict – I had high hopes but have found better shade options elsewhere
Where can you buy them: M&S, obvs.
How many shades: 4, but only Cocoa is suitable for my skin tone
I tried: Obviously Cocoa
Good old M&S. This is the pair that I’ve probably been wearing for the last few years, they come in at a cheap and cheerful £6 and they boast a unique fabrication that prevents ladders forming when you get a hole. They’re pretty tough, but slightly darker than my skin tone. It’s not in a super-obvious way, it just looks a bit like me with a bit of a tan.
My only gripe is that I have found them hard to track down in store, plus they have such a specific, long-winded name that you could quite easily end up buying the wrong pair. Cocoa in any of their other styles is a completely different colour. There’s only one generic shade for darker skin tones, which you could probably get away with it if you’re darker than me but forget it if you’re more of a Beyonce.
Verdict – Great value but please make them easier to find! A reinforced toe would be nice too. Please.
Founded by Ade Hassan, this Nubian Skin is probably the brand that has received the most worldwide coverage thanks to them also producing underwear for darker skin tones. I was pleased to find them on ASOS (though stocks seem to be dwindling, please don’t leave), which is handy if you’re a fan of last-minute Premier Delivery plus they have a fair amount of IRL stockists.
This is probably the most accurate colour match and the airbrushed effect makes my pins look like the best version of themselves (it helps that my beloved YSL foundation is listed as a colour match). I have bought a few pairs in the past though and ended up chucking them after the first wear after getting holes in the toes. Perhaps this was just me having several bad days. They are one of the few brands that offers plus sizes, which has to be applauded.
Verdict – The perfect colour, I just need to be very careful and keep those talons trimmed
Ownbrown is probably one of the more little-known brands but there’s a really nice sisterhood kinda message that comes through on their branding and social media. I believe that these are made in the same Italian factories as high-end brands and they’re a whopping 20 denier, which makes the British Winter a little more bearable.
Again, these are a great colour match and probably one of the more durable pairs. They can be a little harder to track down though, I did order a fresh pair for this post but there was a bit of an issue with delivery. Fingers crossed for more stockists!
Verdict – Good quality but can be tricky to track down
So I’ve shared all of my secrets with you now! Does anyone else have the struggle too? In a similar way to foundation, your success with some of these will depend on your undertone and personal preference. It can also be tricky to try some of these styles if you’re not based in London and can’t see an exact foundation shade match (all brands deliver worldwide but be sure to factor in the shipping costs). I’m pleased that there are more options out there and I wish these independent brands well, but plenty more can be done when it comes to mainstream retailers.
Which pair do you prefer? I’ll probably be stocking up on Ownbrown with M&S as a backup and praying for no holes in awkward places…