Spring may not have been quite spring, but a bouquet of popular nail color trends, fresh from the runways, will surely perk up your winter doldrums. Unlike some of the more muted, dour hues, like invisible nudes and gunmetal grays, that hogged the spotlight in 2011, this year promises a kaleidoscope of upbeat, retro, and saturated polishes. Smart and cheeky, the nail color palettes that have popped up at top fashion shows beckon you to a paradise of striking finishing touches for your style routine.
Far from psychedelic, the winning shades on the runways this season seem far too ravishingly dignified and aloof to call attention to themselves. Described by some as milky and by others as neutral, these brighter versions of the French manicure hit parade may be dismissed as neutrals, but they have the desirable impact of drawing attention to your fingertips, thus making your hands appear longer and more graceful. The key to pulling off these very office-friendly colors in 2012, however, lies in selecting colors with a certain weight and opacity to them, like the buff taupe at Giorgio Armani or the mod creamy white at The Row. Don’t call them naturals. They’re far more calculated than that, often with purplish, grayish, and greenish undertones for richer, less sheer effects with a subtle edge on passé beiges.
Despair not lovers of siren shades: this season’s nail palette harbors a dimension beyond light and bright. Some fiercely bold, ripe colors carried off their share of talon envy from the catwalks. You can adapt the delicious, jewel-like hues of ombré nails at Jen Kao without resorting to a flashy airbrush manicure. Just snatch up dark teal, emerald, and sapphire shades with a dim shimmer and make sure to keep your nails long, but not pointy, for added glamour and scope. If you adore nail colors with juicy nighttime impact, but prefer warmer, less austere shades, take after the Donna Karan models who beguiled audiences with maroon and burgundy nails. In order to completely pull off the look, keep your nails short-cropped and bask in the authoritative combination of femme fatale and practical chic.
At the spring Chanel show, Karl Lagerfeld orchestrated an extravaganza of blue, blue, and more blue with gloriously chilly nails to match. Such decadently faded pastels, like iridescent blues and muted sugared violets, will tickle the fancies of all maddeningly fascinating ladies who like to play hard to get. Ice queens take note; this season belongs to you.
You can also stay cool as a cucumber with the serene, but droll, mint colors that have popped up on nails, as well as in clothes, at Dior, Marc Jacobs, and Rebecca Taylor. Lively and green for springtime, these pale, almost rococo polish, colors with gray undertones also channel continental savoir-vivre and might remind color-fiends of the signature green on the boxes of the Paris tea salon brand Ladurée. Catch on to this confectionary color, which is destined to become a season staple. However, if your skin tends toward yellow undertones, you might opt for a matte peridot chartreuse, like the short-cropped grassy lime nails that turned heads at the Karen Walker runway show.
The 1950’s appliance colors, like pistachio green, have rotated back to the top of the pop culture hierarchy, so it’s no surprise that retro orange nails have abounded both on the runways and in the beauty buzz scene this spring. From Jason Wu’s peachy reds to exuberant orangey flamingo pinks and corals at Dior, the vibrant shades all capitalized on a quirky vintage vibe. If your complexion leans towards the pale side, you should select a polish with a more coral or peachy hue that will flatter your rosy skin instead of looking harsh. Women with olive or darker skin tones can give themselves permission to embrace the fully sunny Tropicana-reminiscent oranges that have been spotted at Milly shows. Think of it as a spring vacation in nail form and bon voyage!