"The nude look is the new look," Women's Wear Daily declared on February 15, 1966. In Paris, daring couturiers like Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent were crafting barely-there dresses of unlined chiffon, strategically embellished with sequins or bands of ribbon. But to many American designers and their clients, the revealing styles looked like the emperor's new clothes.
"Most don't like the idea of absolute transparency," WWD reported two months later, on April 6. "They say they are forced to do it for fear of being left behind." Oscar de la Renta thought the nude look had "great possibilities," while Geoffrey Beene pronounced it "gimmicky." Some women refused to go "nude" in public but felt comfortable wearing body-baring fashions in private homes and at beach resorts, or with a flesh-colored body stocking or slip underneath.
Los Angeles designer James Galanos--who counted Nancy Reagan, the wife of California's governor, among his clients--was not afraid of the nude look. As he told WWD in February 1968: "It can be done elegantly and with class." This ensemble of cotton tunic, bra, and pants worn by Reagan's friend Betsy Bloomingdale is likely from Galanos' Spring 1968 collection, which was overwhelmingly white. But the bandeau-style bra is lined in tan souffle, a sheer knit.