My name is Dana and I’m a nail polish addict. Okay, addict might be a bit strong of a word, but in my opinion there are two kinds of women in the world: those who care about nail upkeep and those who don’t. I am most assuredly in the first category. I follow all of the latest nail polish trends, I agonize over the racks when I have to choose a new color, and I really hate it when they chip (aka the day after I get them done).
I am thoroughly bemused by people who keep the same color on for months at a time, leaving only speckles of lacquer on each nail. But I also don’t believe in hair products or straighteners, so hey, I guess we all have our things. My favorite nail colors are unique and classy, so I try to steer clear of intense glitter formulas, but in reality I’ll try anything once.
Seeing as how this is a vintage blog, though, the shades I usually gravitate towards evoke a sense of retro nostalgia. As I’m sure you know, nail polish harkens back to Ancient Egypt where it was used for women to distinguish their social order (doesn’t everyone know that? No? Fine.) It’s been used by many different cultures and can represent many things, but nowadays nail polish is typically used as an enclave to fashion. Here are some of the biggest nail trends over the years, and how to recreate them now.
1940s: It was typical to match your nails to your clothing, which inspired many different colors, including various shades of red, mustard, and mauve. The most popular style was to have a white half-moon at the bottom of the nail, and a silver tip. Now: Watch a half-moon mani tutorial here!
1950s: In a decade all about shiny wholesomeness, nail polish reflected this subtle glamour with its focus on timeless, elegant red. Nails were kept long and tapered at the end, and it was considered a faux-pas not to match your nail polish to your lipstick. Now: Deborah Lippman’s classic red My Old Flame
1960s: The sixties were a heavily segregated time, style-wise, and the various intersecting nail trends included white or clear for Mods (to match their nude lip), a natural chemical-free look for Hippies, and frosted pastels for those women in favor of sexy glamour. Now: Essie’s frosty pink Lady Like
1970s: The au natural Hippie look gave way to the punk movement towards the end of the decade, and black nail polish became all the rage. For a more neutral look, the seventies also saw a renewal in popularity for the French manicure. Now: OPI went retro in name and color with Light My Sapphire
1980s: One word stands for almost every trend in the eighties: BIG. Hair was voluminous, suits had massive shoulder pads, and nails were as long and bright as possible. Now: American Apparel goes all out with their Neon Collection
1990s: After the crazy ‘80s, things toned down to a point of rebellious minimalism in the nineties. Grungers preferred chipped black, while the sartorial sect began to buy designer bottles in dark, dramatic shades. Also, nails were kept short and square. Now: Chanel perfected the look with 1994’s Vamp
Are you a fellow nail polish lover? What’s your favorite shade? Let me know in the comments!