Melanie Morris: 'Nude' dresses are all the rage on the red carpet but for you and me they're a guaranteed night wrecker
WHY, oh why, oh why? Why does fashion persist in serving up nude-coloured clothing as the ultimate take on breezy, spring/ summer style.
It seems to be the new white ... or black ... or whatever. The calm, sophisticated shade that will work in any situation and as the perfect alternative to garish seasonal colour splashes.
That might all be well and good, when your complexion is olive, or when your stature is akin to a bean pole, but most of us ruddy, dimpled, dumpy Irish types just aren't going to stop traffic when wearing nude -- or at least, we won't cause gridlock for the right reasons.
Nude is called 'nude' because it's flesh coloured. So do the maths. If you or I, as mere mortals, wear tight clothes in that shade, we're going to look like a link of sausages. The fabric emphasises our bulges and curves.
So, unless you're currently working as a Bond Girl, or a Victoria's Secret model, or have a personal trainer and a cabbage soup habit, there's just no way to win in nude. Or buff. Or flesh. Or taupe. Or whatever the designers are calling it now. I embraced the look once, with a stunning black lace dress that went over a nude satin slip, which I wore to a friend's birthday party in a penthouse in New York.
I thought I looked divine -- terribly Carrie Bradshaw -- until I saw the photos. The skin tone of the under-dress suddenly became the new form of my body -- long, shapeless and shiny. The lace, though lovely, then clung to this heap of silk, and made me look matronly, not lithe and sexy as I had intended.
The only way you could see where the dress ended, and where I began, was -- gasp -- at the fold of my bingo wings that were breaking forth from the cutaway sleeve. Morto.
In hindsight, I think the only designers who get 'flesh' right, are the architects who work on costumes for the likes of Strictly Come Dancing, or celebrity Dancing On Ice.
They cleverly stitch in corsets and panels and other great buttressing foundations. Then they add trompe l'oeil seams, emphasised further by brightly coloured fabric and then, in case that doesn't do enough flattering, they sew on sparkles until the wearer can blind anyone who might look their way.
Unfortunately that's not exactly Stella McCartney's style. Nor any of the terribly smart, sophisticated labels for whom 'nude' has become the staple palette of springtime.
They use beautiful silks, invisibly stitched to form whispers of garments that look so stunning on the mannequins.
And hence another problem once the pieces are put on humans ... sweat stains. Two words that can terrify women into hours of solitary confinement at soirees. Nude fabrics pick up perspiration like blotting paper, and create creeping two-tone circles under each arm.
A guaranteed night-wrecker. Before you know it, you're arms down, straight by your side, like a professional Irish dancer until you can get to a hot air hand drier so you can settle for the lesser of the evils -- a telltale tidemark.
So tread cautiously into the nude territory, ladies.
Perhaps this spring's Seventies inspired swirls might be more forgiving?
Melanie Morris is editor of Image magazine