Nail It!: Breaking Nail Color Stereotypes
On a routine trip to my local drugstore, I picked up a new bottle of black nail polish that just HAD to come home with me. As I was checking out, the clerk said to me, “Getting ready for Halloween?” I realize I live in Middle America but surely black polish sans witch costume can’t be that radical a concept! If only she had glanced at my green tips she would have figured out that I wasn’t playing dress-up, right?
Though even as recent as last fall I also gave in to preconceived notions about nail color. During the season premiere of Gossip Girl I spied a set of vampy talons claw Nate Archibald’s chest and thought, “Rut-roh, what kind of vixen has Nate fallen prey to?!” Without even a word or a glimpse of her face, I pre-judged another woman based on her nail polish.
I say it’s time we break these stereotypes and realize that nail color is an accessory, not a personality trait. Rather than let our nails define us, we need define what they mean in how we incorporate polish into our overall style.
Let’s take a look at how the same nail color can take on completely opposite attitudes depending on the ensemble.
Stereotype: The shade of rock stars and goths, a black nail is edgy and dark best suited to Elvira, hipsters and legions of punk rock fans.
Truth: Worn on short, slightly rounded nails, black is elegant and what I consider a “new neutral.” Black has joined Red, Pink and Sheer as staples of a well rounded nail wardrobe. It has surpassed trends to become a classic. You can wear it rocker chic or upscale evening as shown on Taylor Momsen (left). If you feel jet black is too harsh try a blackened plum, berry or red.
Stereotype: White is mod, chalky and cheesy, like you painted your nails with Wite-Out.
Truth: A creamy white looks fresh and clean. The key is to pair it with soft shapes like the top on Lea Michele (far right) or a modern take on retro like Gwen Stefani’s style (near right). Even an off-white will work as long as it’s opaque. Just avoid pearly opalescent shades. They can easily move you into grandma territory.
Stereotype: A lot of women feel that unique colors like green, blue and gray are best left to the teen/young adult scene. That unusual nail shades aren’t age appropriate once you pass 30. They’re often considered too funky and outrageous for everyday wear.
Truth: As a thirty-something and longtime proponent of green nails I never understood the aversion to bold polish colors. They may be more difficult to wear but certainly not impossible. Women looking for a work friendly shade should try a dove grey or pastel green like the one shown on the Chanel Fall runway (far left). For night, opt for a darker version that isn’t all in your face screaming, “Hey, I”m wearing green!” like the blackened teal shown at the Doo.Ri Fall show (near left).