Katy Guest: Fashion's passion-killer: flesh-coloured tights

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The Independent Online

A lot of people wouldn't think it to look at me, but every now and then there comes along a fashion moment that really cheers me up. Not in the traditional run-out-and-buy-it way, of course. But because you've got to celebrate anything that persuades young and pretty people deliberately to make themselves look uglier.

The current Eighties renaissance is a godsend for those of us who are older, slightly scruffy and frankly knocking on a bit. We may not have had a haircut in a year and may be a little bit too fat for our jeans; but those bright young things who could outshine us are hiding their lights under Alexis Carrington shoulder pads, those harem pants that make them look as though they've done big poos in their nappies, and 1987 shaggy perms with home-made fringes. And now, praise be, they're wearing "nude".

Getting to grips with "nude", according to the experts, means first of all understanding everything that nude is supposedly not. The colour can be referred to as taupe, tan, flesh, oatmeal or biscuit. It even extends as far as blush, café au lait and oyster. But we must never, ever, ever use the word "beige". One "beige" spoken out loud could so easily bring the whole carapace crashing down.

Gloriously, this nefarious plot to make young people look minging has been taken up in the highest places. Last week, Cheryl Cole appeared at the O2 arena wearing a nude-look catsuit, flesh-coloured tights, slashed harem trousers and sparkly pants. Flesh-coloured tights – the most dispiriting word combination in the English language. But what an inspiration, to make hot girls seem unsexy!

Pixie Lott, in addition, has designed a new collection for Lipsy, featuring a nude, backless, babydoll dress (£60). It was something along these lines that Sarah Jessica Parker wore at the Costume Institute Gala in New York last week, though you'd have been forgiven for thinking that she'd turned up in my Nanna's old underskirt. (Only my Nanna wouldn't have worn crinkly beige polyester for anyone.)

Then, style gurus from the likes of Glamour, Elle and Grazia came out raving about the new summer collection from M&S, which includes a nude leather dress, harem pants (of course), and a playsuit. (Which is helpful, because anyone turning up to work wearing a playsuit can in all fairness be told to run along and play.) But I thought Abbey Clancy was pushing it a bit when she said, "As you know, I'm obsessed with nude and sequins. They look so pretty together." You don't want to make it too obvious that you're taking the mick.

And this overdoing it is what's starting to worry me about the nude trend. Because if you're going to persuade an entire generation of otherwise intelligent and quite good-looking people that they must all wear fancy dress because fashion says so, you've at least got to try not to laugh out loud. Unfortunately, even for thickies, "nude" just carries too many connotations of The Emperor's New Clothes.

Some people just mustn't wear nude for fear of giving the game away. Ms Parker narrowly got away with it because she has always been committed to making herself look rubbish in the name of fashion. But others don't have her élan.

Samantha Cameron, I just know, will have been preparing for her Michelle Obama moment by trying on the season's on-trend new colour. But Samantha, as we can see, is no Mrs O. And it would be terrible if that whole generation who do not remember how bad the Eighties were woke up after the election hustling and realised to their horror that the emperor isn't wearing any clothes.