Nikki’s Inbox: In the Nude for Longer-Looking Legs

Hey Nikki! Nude heels, as everybody knows, make one’s legs look miles long. My question is what are some good combinations of outfits that would go well with nude pumps for casual and formal wear? Thanks!

Anonymous, 18/Utah, USA

Nude pumps do visually lengthen legs, dear Anon. In one of my old posts about 10 essential shoes every girl should have, I recommended investing in nude flats and nude pumps because blending them in is never a problem!

However, the word “nude” per se isn’t really accurate. Why? Well, not everyone has the same skin tone; some are darker, some are fairer, and some are in between with olive, yellow or pink undertones. So this week’s advice will include not just suggestions on what to wear with neutral pumps but something that will suit the three basic skin tones: light, medium and dark. I hope that this will prove useful to more readers.

It’s virtually impossible to buy shoes off the rack that are the exact shade of your skin, unless you have them made to order. Try to look for color clues such as “cocoa,” “sand,” “mocha” or “olive.” These will definitely make it easier to narrow down your choices. Keep in mind that certain styles of shoes like ankle-strapped or cuffed ones break the “line” instead of making legs look longer. Work around that problem by wearing pants in a similar color to conceal the straps.

If you easily burn or freckle after just a short time in the sun, then chances are you are fair-skinned. To maximize the leg-lengthening effects of skin tone-adjacent shoes, formal and casual dresses that hit at or just above the knee will showcase those shapely calves, especially for petites. Taller ladies can pull off midi skirts and dresses with nude or even transparent pumps. But of course, nothing is better than a mini skirt or mini dress for airmile-long legs! If you’re going to a super swanky event, patent stilettos are ideal as they will match the glamorous atmosphere.

For casual wear, try to wear bottoms that also approximate your complexion. This especially works for skinny jeans or pants, which you can pair with a dark or patterned top for contrast. If your skin has undertones of pink or yellow, make sure your shoes and bottoms are as close in shade to each other as possible.

A word of caution, fair-skinned damsels. White won’t match your skin tone so resist the urge to wear white shoes, unless you’re a bride.

Those with this skin tone have a warmer color. Medium tones remind me of a nice hot mocha with a little nutmeg on top (yum!). A lot of summer shoe styles perfectly complement this complexion, especially wedges and sandals. A pair of platform wedges looks great with a maxi dress or skirt, and equally at home with your favorite denim cut-offs. Pointy-toe pumps in glossy patent will set off that pencil skirt and blazer combo nicely for work. Not up for the heeled variety? Flats work just as well. Go for those with a little embellishment on the toecap or at the back. Oversized details (like a flower or buckle) might prove too distracting and reverse the desired effect.

Tip: If your legs are a little paler than your upper body, apply a little self-tanning lotion – just a little! – to create a more even skin tone.

Dark skin tones make bright colors truly pop. Choosing a heavily embellished dress (like those you wear for prom) will require the rest of your ensemble to be neutral, so the simplest pumps are your best bet. Try a transparent stiletto (the closest equivalent to Cinderella’s glass shoes) to really show off that dress.

I mentioned that white shoes aren’t ideal for fair-skinned ladies but dark-skinned goddesses will definitely pull them off with an all-white ensemble – even if it’s just a plain white V-neck tee, white distressed jeans and basic white sneakers or oxfords. While it’s still summer, opt for gladiator or ankle sandals that match your skin; try bronze, cocoa, chocolate brown or a deep rich brown. Come fall and winter, play with texture by pairing suede boots with corduroys.

I hope my suggestions give you more styling ideas, Anon. And next time, please don’t be shy!


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