What’s Your Nude?

by: Isa Sesay  

photo: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

photo: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

So you walk into your local department store looking to buy some flesh tone stockings for your interview tomorrow. You see a clerk and say “Hi I’m looking for some flesh-tone stockings to wear.” She then says, “What color were you looking for?” and then the trouble begins.

Now, depending on your skin tone an array of answers may be of choice. If you are of a lighter pigmentation you may say fair, pale, or sun kissed. If you are a darker complexion you might say brown, toffee, or something that looks like me. And for those that lie somewhere in the middle you probably ask for nude, only to receive a pair of stockings that don’t seem to look anything like the nude you were hoping for – yours!

Nude, what does that mean anyways? I always thought nude was what you saw in the mirror as soon as you hopped out the shower; you know your birthday suit. So, whatever color you happen to be looking at should be considered nude right? After all, it is your skin. Unfortunately, the world of fashion hasn’t caught on to that quite yet, or maybe they are so fashion forward there is a new word for the rest of the 80% of the population (just guessing here) that doesn’t seem to match that color. Personally, I’ve owned three pairs of shoes, two bars, and one disgusting pair of granny panties.  All these items were different shades of nude yet not one even came close to matching my skin color. So now what is a girl to do? Well to answer that question plainly – suffer! We suffer, we cry, we complain, we search like crazy on the web for alternatives. If we’re lucky, we get refereed to Nude Barre (sixteen shades of nude undergarments) by a friend who has been delivered from a discolored personal hell. Seriously though for some this nude color complex is an ongoing issue, but luckily, it seems as if brands and designers have heard our distant cries and been bit by the ‘Nude Barre bug’ so to speak.

Last year, the beacon of the designer red bottom sole, Christian Louboutin released 5 Shades of Nude pumps for all shades as well the Louboutin Shades  app to choose your nude – now that’s what I call an upgrade. Christian Louboutin decided to step out and fill the void felt by so many of their customers possibly looking for a nude shoe they never knew existed. And if it’s good enough for Louboutin, it’s good enough for me. I believe it’s time we live in an equal opportunity world of nude in shoes, clothes, and most importantly undergarments.

So I guess the real question is what’s your nude?


About nudebarre

As a young dancer and pre-professional, I experienced the hardships of not being able to find dance tights and underwear that matched my skin tone. While studying at Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Alvin Ailey School on scholarship at 16 and 17 years old, the students were required to wear skin toned tights and shoes as a part of the class and performance uniform. The students spent many hours in their kitchens dying and/or spray painting their shoes and underwear. This tedious process left us all exhausted and frustrated that we were required to do this due to there not being a brand that produced more than 3 shades of nude on the market. In addition, predominately white ballet schools only required you to wear pink ballet tights due to the history of ballet, which are commonly manufactured. However, even pink tights do not match Caucasian skin; they too have various skin tones. Once I reached the professional level as an actress, model, and dancer I began to experience high profile jobs where sometimes the wardrobe department dyed the undergarments to match your skin color. However, not all jobs have this luxury. Therefore, due to time and budget cuts, often times color matching is over looked and performers are left looking and feeling uncomfortable. The turning point for me as an entrepreneur was while I was modeling in a photo shoot as a Knicks City Dancer. Apart of the costumes are flesh toned dance tights, fishnets, and a strapless/convertible bra. The entire shoot, all the dancers were complaining about how their tights, by the leading dance brand Capezio, did not match their skin color and looked crazy. Instantly, I began to brainstorm and asked my fellow dancers detailed questions to get a strong understanding of what dancers really want. We all wondered why no brand was making more nude color options for performers. I mean, it only makes sense that since nude undergarments are a mandatory item for performers, that performance based brands would offer what their target marketing are dying to buy. As I got serious about this simple idea, I focused on developing a premiere product for the women in the community that I spent so much of my life studying and growing in. The icing on the cake was when shooting an American Airlines commercial starring Kevin Spacey, the principals were again required to wear “skin toned” tights what were not dyed, and again every dance/model complained about how terrible it looked. While being a fitness teacher for people like Rick Fox, Mike Myers, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kelly Ripa, and many more body conscious people, I quickly learned that nude underwear is a universal problem for all women, particularly active women. I developed a brand that focused on supplying our clients with the most attractive, professional and appealing undergarments by focusing on perfectly matched tones, thus offering superior transparency. BUSINESS/PRODUCT/SERVICE DEFINATIONS/COMPETITION & BUSINESS MODEL: The market of specialty undergarments, which includes the areas of theatre, cheerleading, dance, film, television, modeling, gymnastics, sports, fitness, etc; has an estimated revenue of $4 billion dollars per year, while the aforementioned shortcomings continue unaddressed. While larger companies such as Capezio, Nike, Victoria's Secret, and Dan skin offer 3 undergarment colors, Nude Barre will contract an uncultivated area of the market by offering 15 colors. In addition, we have built upon the tradition of specialty undergarments by producing an undergarment with unique netting, color matching, quick dry, and antibacterial properties to prevent unattractive sweat marks, odors and stains.

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