The Fall Nail Trends You Need to Know Now

Janell M. Hickman
new nail trends

Photo: ImaxTree

There’s nothing we love more than discovering the season’s new nail trends. Whether it’s the hottest color, shape or embellishment, we’re constantly looking for ways to elevate our manicure game—and now that fall is officially on the way, we’re more dedicated than ever to our quest for the newest things in nails.

We talked to four industry insiders to find out everything about fall’s new nail trends—and the best ways for you to embrace them immediately.

White is still hot.
Three out of four of our experts agreed—white is the ideal shade to take you from late summer into fall. “I love white nails all year round,” says celebrity manicurist Karen Gutierez. “It’s as perfect with a bikini and a tan as with a chunky sweater.” She suggests a true opaque white, like NCLA White Deco ($29 for 2 polishes,, which is flattering—and dramatic—on every skin tone.

Sheers are in.
Good news for lovers of understated manicures: washes of barely-there color are going to be absolutely massive for fall. “I love the sheer colors—it’s like a stain instead of the entire opaque color,” shares fashion manicurist Dawn Sterling. “They’re perfect for someone who wants to have fun with bold colors, but usually goes for a simpler hue.” We love Dior Nail Glow ($27,, a softly tinted pink shade that gives nails just a touch of stained glass–like radiance. And if you have naturally dark nails? Don’t worry, you can still embrace this trend. “Layer one coat of nude polish a shade lighter than your skin, then apply the sheer color on top,” says Sterling. This way, the color will pop—but in the most natural, understated way.

Colors are going back to school.
The standout shades for fall are colors inspired by the deepest shades of private school tartan. “I’m most excited about dark nudes, bright reds, and deep blues for autumn—colors which are beautiful, and flatter any skin tone,” explains Very Polished Nail Lounge Professional Nail Technician Angie Aguirre. We love these vampy, kilt-inspired shades, but how can you embrace this trend if you aren’t really into statement colors? “Try a darker shade of nude, then accent one finger with either blue or red polish for a pop,” says Aguirre.

The shape of things to come.
Goodbye, super-long stilettos: This fall, it’s all about the shorter, natural look. The dark shades of fall practically demand short nails—long nails and rich colors look totally dated. And as for the shape? Turns out it’s a flashback to our high school days. “Ask your manicurist for a rounded square shape,” says celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi. “It’s feminine and casual, all at once.” This shape is flattering on every hand because it elongates the fingers without requiring acrylic tips.

Nail art gets inspired.
Sorry, haters: nail art isn’t going anywhere this autumn, but it is getting a much-needed boost of sophistication. “I’m having more requests for nail art replicas of Warhol and Rothko pieces,” says Sterling. Keep your inspiration simple and graphic, and you too can have a tiny masterpiece on your nails.

Nail art also looks to fashion this season. It’s all about re-creating the look and feel of fall’s most luxurious textures. Think manicures inspired by nubby cable knits, dense fur, jewel-toned satin, heritage tweed and mod houndstooth, all accented with gold and simple pearls. In fact, Choi tells us to consider our nails a fashion accessory in and of themselves. “Make sure your nail look complements your style,” she says. “I’m personally a fan of black toes and white nails with either a shiny or matte finish for an unexpected combo.”

Embrace negativity for work.
While autumn’s hot shades of deep red and nude are easy to wear to the office, incorporating actual nail art into your working life can be a little challenging. Fortunately, Gutierez says that one of the most enduring manicure trends is perfect for even the most buttoned-down work environments. “A negative space-based design makes any nail art look sophisticated,” she says. Deep blue French tips might be overwhelming on a hot pink base, but layer them over a clear coat with your naked nail peeking through and you have a unique, but still totally work appropriate nail art look.

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