Nail polish pairings

Get ready for fun new trends that can take you from a professional finish to an elegant night out.
10 August, 2014
Jessi D’Ornellas takes care of a customer at Wilson’s on Washington. (Photo: CINDY HOSEA/Staff)

When the season's colors begin to shift from summer fun to autumn harvest, nail polish pairings will have their own change in palette.

Get ready for fun new trends that can take you from a professional finish to an elegant night out.

Rebecca Isa, creative director for Art of Beauty, makers of Zoya nail polish, said the "it" color family for fall will be deep red-plum hues.

"That trend of deep wines is something that originated on the runway," she said. "The designers wanted it deep – as close as you can get to black."

In order to wear those tones, Isa said there are a few musts.

"If you go deep – first and foremost, I can't stress it enough – the nails need to be short," she said.

Short, squoval – square with rounded corners – nails are key.

"A squoval nail shape is great for the strength of the nail, great to prevent snags and breaking," Isa said. "It always looks good and professional. It's always appropriate. You want a shape that will maintain the integrity of the nail."

How you pair the colors for your manicure and pedicure depend on the look you want.

"Two easy directions to go for fall pairings are high contrast or a color continuum," Isa said. "High contrast means you pair shades that are high drama opposites. The color continuum just means choosing colors that are in the same family but two or three shades apart."

For high contrast, consider using black with white or pink with eggplant. For a gradient on the color continuum, choose mauve and plum or nude and chocolate.

Jessi D'Ornellas, a stylist and nail technician at Wilson's on Washington, said nail polish pairings can be a great way to have fun.

"To me, it's the newest accessory," she said. "When you pick a color, don't take it too seriously. Nudes are great if you can't break out of the box or if you have a job where you can't wear eccentric nail color. Nudes this year are a lot more sheer and more natural looking."

D'Ornellas said in addition to deep reds, wines and nudes, fall will see greater use of metallic gold, as well as a range of grays, from light to dark.

"Gray has been so popular in interior design," she said. "It's almost like a new neutral. I think it's going to be something that is new and something people don't usually wear on their nails."

Choosing the perfect nail color, especially with deep wines, can be as intimidating as finding the perfect red lipstick. Actually, Isa said that should be a clue to finding the right match.

"When you're trying to figure out what color to go with, look at your favorite lipstick," she said. "You can even take it with you where you shop for your polish. Find a color polish that looks like it could be the lipstick color but darker. Try that darkest shade. Put a piece of tape on your hand and put a drop of polish on the tape. You can see what it looks like against your skin."

Elegant nail art is also expected to be on trend this fall.

"Color blocking, pinstripes, half-moons, subtle tips and mixed textures were all over the runways at Fall 2014 Fashion Week," Isa said. "These artistic touches add a fun flair to your manicure and can be readily duplicated at home. Check out the nail tutorials online, many of which give step by step directions that even a beginner can follow. The key is to use a classic shade with a nail art technique to create an end result that looks both edgy and elegant."

Isa said an open paper clip makes a great tool for applying small dots, and an old makeup sponge is perfect for applying a subtle texture. Sponge a nude nail with a rose or soft pink polish, applying it to the free edge of longer nails and closer to the cuticle of shorter nails.

To beat the end-of-summer blues, think color – with a bit of whimsy.

"Nail color should be something fun," D'Ornellas said.

Crafting the perfect squoval nail

Rebecca Isa said a home manicure can result in a great shape, but often, women choose a backwards approach to creating a nail that has a flat edge with rounded corners by trimming the corners first. Instead, start with the tip.

"Take a file and hold it flat against the tip of the nail," Isa said. "You file flat. You almost get to the point where the nail is almost concave. You round that corner and round that corner until it is in line. That levels the nail without one corner being higher than the other. File in one direction. Don't saw back and forth."

And before applying the season's deep wine shades, buff the nail well.

"Buff down any separation of the nail plate," Isa said. "Do it gently and make sure you use a very fine grit file. Buff in one direction. It results in even application. If you don't buff any peeling or separating, it will just keep separating."

by Chris Worthy