French Manicures Are Back: Here’s How to Wear Them Now

Alle Connell

French manicure: if you suffered through the nail indignities of the 90s, those three words conjure visions of overtanned pop stars and tacky, square-tipped acrylics. But the 2015 version of the French manicure is—dare we say it?—actually super-chic. But how to pull it off in real life? Here are 8 brilliant, runway-inspired ways to make this trend work for you.

1. Keep the line interesting.

jinsoon tibi fall 2015

Anna Webber / Getty Images

One of our favorite modern French-inspired looks came from nail genius Jin Soon Choi for Tibi’s Fall 2015 show. She began with a base of JINsoon lacquer in Nostalgia (a gorgeous pink-beige, $18), then used Doux (a light white-pink, $18) to paint a slightly wobbly horizontal line across the top. This look keeps the clean and stylish feel of the classic French manicure, but the unusual line at the tip gives it a needed breath of artistry.

2. Try colored tips…



Okay, so maybe hands full of contrasting colors (as seen at Au Jour le Jour) might be a little much for every day. But we love the idea of a nude or pale pink base (Essie’s Perennial Chic, $8.50, is one of our spring favorites) with a line of silver, black or turquoise along the tip. It’s creative, colorful, and most importantly, won’t get you in trouble at work.

3. …Or a colored base.

french manicure jeremy scott


While we love a good nude polish, sometimes Spring calls out for more fun shades. At Jeremy Scott’s show, models had vibrantly painted nails with white tips—why not try a radiant gold or barely-there blue base?

4. Keep nails short…

french manicure jenny packham

Vivien Killilea / Getty Images

Though long nails have been the trend du jour for a few seasons now, you’re going to want to file them WAY down for this style. Too-long French tipped talons can look a little Jersey Shore (and not in a good way). Keep your nails short and chic, like the models at Jenny Packham, for a really modern look. Additional bedazzling is, of course, optional.

5. …Or paint underneath.

jinsoon french manicure

Anna Webber / Getty Images

If you just can’t bring yourself to sacrifice the length of your nails for a French manicure, try out our editor’s trick and paint UNDERNEATH the free edge of your nail. You heard right: After painting the face of your nail with two coats of a semi-sheer pink or beige shade, paint beneath the tip with an opaque white or very light pink polish (We love Essie’s Ballet Slippers polish, $8.50, for this). This gives the lighter, contrasting look in a much softer and more natural way; exactly what you want if you’re rocking a long-nail look!

6. Use tools.

french manicure tadashi shoji

Images via BUTTER London

At Tadashi Shoji, opaque white polish (Butter LONDON nail lacquer in Cotton Buds, $15) was dabbed along the tips and down the sides with a sponge, rather than using the polish brush. The result? A soft, cloudlike look that’s as interesting as it is beautiful.

7. Keep the palette, change the shape.

french manicure kaelen

Image via KISS

At their best, the French manicure is all about the look of radiant healthshiny pink nail beds, clean white tips. We love this traditional French tip color palette, so why not keep them and change up the pattern a little? At Kaelen’s Fall 2015 show, models had dusty rose nails with pale pink chevron patterns overtop. It’s a perfect way to take inspiration from the trend without copying it outright.

More from Daily Makeover: 7 Beauty Looks From NYFW That You Can Actually Wear.