I recently told a friend that she belongs in Matchers Anonymous, because she suggested going out on a Saturday evening without her wedding and engagement rings–she didn’t want the metal to “clash” with her gold-tone bangle. Ok. We have a situation here!
I actually hate to “match.” I believe that the elements of an outfit should relate to and/or complement each other but matching perfectly is just an unnecessary waste of time in my life. I like surprising details, whimsical bursts of color or pattern that throw the outfit from the predictable into the unique. I don’t try to dress weird, in fact much of my stuff is pretty “trendy” or classic. But I love combining things in interesting ways. Even my bridesmaids are wearing all different styles and colors of dresses. Our groomsmen’s ties bring in yet another color… and the list goes on. But away from the wedding and back to real life, I find asymmetry and a bit of power clashing — or at least a lack of matchy-matchy, quite appealing.
Navy and black? Bring it on. Even before that was the cool thing, I always did it. Do brown shoes require a brown bag? Um. Do they require brown eyes?? I mean, come on. Just wear what looks good together, what bounces off each other. I am not saying one should walk into one’s closet and just throw together any random assembly of items and leave the house… but I do think that matching to a fault can wind up leaving you looking cartoonish and ridiculous.
Case in point: today’s nail color. Now, many of you know that I paint my nails most nights. Last night, coming off a weekend in Miami, I craved bright, girly color. I ended up with a combination of Essie’s Play Date (a bold purple), and Pink Parka (a neon pink). This morning when I was getting ready, feet still swollen from some combination of wine, sleep deprivation, air travel, and possibly shellfish, I was in a pickle.
You see, the high in Dallas today was 90 degrees. That kind of limits one’s ankle-and-foot concealing possibilities. The only solution I could find was to wear a maxi dress, but as you know, I only own one. And as chance would have it, it’s purple and pink. Like my freaking nails. In order to mix things up, I threw on a navy cardigan, but the only flat shoes that my puffy feet would fit into are… you guessed it!
Lavender flats with pale pink Gucci G’s on the toe. So from head, to toe, to the tips of my little fingers… I am a pink and purple mess. Whatever. This outfit is comfortable, chic enough for a fairly slow day at work, and easy to prop my swollen little feet up in. My options were limited and I did what I had to do.
Of course, you might not be surprised that this morning, when my buddy who has yet to actually join Matchers Anonymous met me by the water cooler, her first words were, “Ooh, your nails match your dress. Love it!”
I read somewhere that Lauren Conrad (AKA, L.C., to the MTV crowd) paints her nails every single night. What? I scoffed. What kind of a spoiled princess has that kind of time? But as my nails started to experience an unfortunate amount of damage from repeated gel manicures (Hi, my name is Jenny and I am addicted to shellac.), I realized that maybe the girl was on to something.
I’ve always loved doing my own nails. I find it both cathartic and fun. If it’s a busy night and I have to slap some polish on quickly, I go for nudes or creams that won’t show mistakes too easily. If it’s game day and we’re camped out in front of the TV, like last weekend, I’ll go full-on with a five-step mani including a glitter fade comprised of crafting supplies. That one was a hit!
Now, I still don’t do them every night, but I’m at the point of about every-other. My polish collection is honestly disgusting. It started with a bottle of Chanel my mom gave me when I went off to college and it’s amassed into an entire (large) shelf in our bathroom armoire. And onto the kitchen counter. And a scattering on the side table by the couch. And then there’s the red and the pink I keep in my gym bag just in case.
Experimenting with your nails is fun and easy. It’s just like accessorizing in any other way, but it’s pretty damn cheap. So, how do you make them look amazing at home, a la L.C.? Practice is important. The more frequently you do your own nails, the better you’ll become. But here are some of my personal tips for achieving a salon-quality mani on your couch. Or, if you’re like me, in the middle of your living room floor:
1. Moisturize. Just like your skin, your nails crave moisture. Before applying any polish, wash your hands and then dab some eye cream onto each nail. I know it sounds nuts, but I use eye cream for everything. It’s rich and full of nutrients that your nails will soak right up.
2. Invest in a proper base and top coat. The base coat keeps your actual nails protected from the pigment and dyes in the colors you apply. It also evens out the surface of your nail, preventing a bumpy look. A top coat is important for preventing chips and creating a uniformed aesthetic. I like Essie’s Good to Go; it’s super-shiny and dries in a flash, leaving your nails shiny as glass in a few minutes flat.
3. Make like a nail girl–shape, buff and shine! It takes a little extra time, but when you do your own nails, you can’t skip these steps. Filing is great, but get yourself a 6-in-1 or at least a 4-in-1 so you can also shape, smooth, buff and get those nails to a shine! These are easy to find for under five bucks at any drug store.
4. Take your time. Paint slowly, and allow a full five minutes to pass between applying each coat. The more time you give yourself to apply the polish, the better it will look. And the longer each coat dries, the less likely you’ll be to smudge it later.
5. Have fun! Nail trends run the gamut these days from flair nails and glitter to ombre, rainbow brites and nudes. Whatever you fancy in a magazine, give it a whirl at home. You might just be surprised by your own chic talons… and I guarantee, your friends will be thinking, “What kind of spoiled princess has that kind of time?”
Well, you do, now. Because you decided to make it for yourself.
I stopped dead while flipping through a mag recently, upon discovering the ad for Tom Ford’s latest beauty collection. It wasn’t the gorgeous face (those are everywhere!) but the simply (and I really mean simply) amazing manicure featured on the page.
I mean, is that not just so striking in its neutral simplicity? So elegant, feminine and strong at once? We’ve all had our Ballet Slippers and other bare and creamy Essie moments, but a nude this gorgeous is something I haven’t come across before. I became obsessed.
Unfortunately, I initially decided that on a bridal budget I don’t have much of an excuse to shell out $30 for a bottle of polish right now. But if you do, please hop over to Nordstrom right now and buy yourself a bottle of Toasted Sugar. I hunted the racks and was unable to find a suitable replacement. So, scratch what I said above. I now plan to buy the polish when my next paycheck lands. In the meantime though, I’m being tided over by Essie’s Sand Tropez, which is much paler than the Tom Ford but a truly delightful beige. Have you found one you love?
For more inspiration on getting nude nails right, check out the glorious article in this month’s Vogue. Eva Chen takes the reader on a wild ride from New York Fashion Week to China, focused on those subtly sexy, sheerly brilliant new nudes.
Hanging out on Pinterest yesterday, I stumbled across this awesome image of a hard-hatted nail among chic polka-dotted friends. Wow! Sometimes you think you’ve seen all the nail innovations they could possibly invent, but then you see something like this and realize that the world of manicures is ever-evolving. Happy girl front and center!
I haven’t yet found this cool device for purchase, but the moment I do, it’s mine! In the meantime, did you know that polka dotted nails are actually super-easy? I’ve done them myself multiple times and received scores of compliments. One favorite is to paint your nails with two coats of a matte polish, let it dry, and then dab glossy top coat sporadically to create a textured polka-dot look.
If you want to get really fancy, you can invest in a nail art pen. Many are around $10 at drug stores. These allow you to be very precise with your dots. I’d start with white (which looks great against pastels, neons, and dark tones) and then branch out once you’ve proven to yourself that you’ll actually use the thing. Feeling more adventurous? Try pale pink with blue dots or bold green with orange dots. The options are limitless. Have fun!
I have been a busy girl. There is no denying it! Joshy and I are on a crazy wedding diet that requires all our meals to be made at home. Who’s the short order cook around here? You’re looking at her. Add to that the work, the work outside the work, the personal work, the housework and of course working on the wedding… what do you get?
A very overtired, often grumpy, hopefully thinner, Me.
Enough complaining. I will share with you my absolute favorite thing about Dallas. In this over-the-top, beauty-obsessed land of the lovely, there is always a manicure place open for business. And unlike in New York (love you, home state, but really) they are all immaculately clean and you rarely have to wait. Okay, now the best part? Chardonnay and Miller Lite are in the fridge and ready for the sipping. Or chugging, as the mood may require.
I have switched almost entirely to gel polish (AKA shellac) manicures because there is a different removal method down here that allows your nails to breathe and doesn’t require that abrasive filing that happens up North, damaging the nails. Instead, they just continue to grow longer and stronger with every passing shellaced week. And to be in and out with a gorgeous pedicure and flawless gel polish mani plus wine and a shoulder massage for $70 in under an hour? I’m sold, baby.
Here are my favorites:
One week after getting your gel mani, soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol (the purest you can get, 95% is good) and wipe each nail. This will keep the color from dulling and give it that ultra-shiny finish it had on Day One.
The moral? It is always a good time to treat yourself. Work can be crushing and relationships can be hard. Friendships can suffer and diets totally suck. But even on your darkest day, there is nothing so pleasant at glancing down at your lovely nails and knowing that one thing is always intact. I may not have it all, all the time, but at least I have my nails.
Ever the nail freak, I have become particularly obsessed with keeping them looking elegant and well manicured at all times now that I have a ring on my finger! But no busy girl on a bridal budget can get them done professionally every week, so I’ve been doing a lot of home maintenance these past couple of weeks.
While sorting through the always-growing polish collection, I came upon two hues that really work together. Funky enough for this glitter girl, but not too loud as to disrespect my engagement ring. A lady has to think about these things, right? So, Essie once again… “To Buy or not to Buy” — two coats, followed by a coat of “Shine of the Times.”
Not a super hero? Learn how to fake it.
I went into my local nail salon for a straight-up manicure and selected Essie’s “To Buy or Not to Buy.” For some reason I was expecting it to be a little more sparkly than it turned out. I was bummed. My manicurist totally got it — like me, she is a sucker for anything glitzy and over the top. We thought about applying a glittery topcoat to all of the nails, but she wanted to do something different and special.
She pulled from her arsenal an opaque slate glitter polish that I immediately deemed way too dark. She told me to shh and trust the expert. My goodness! When a beautiful Russian salon owner who loves glitter tells you to shh and trust her, you shut up and do it. Right?
The result was this ridiculously fly mani with one little diagonal swipe of girl power silver across each ring finger. I might be missing a certain sparkly something on this finger, but for the time being, a swipe of Wonder Woman-esque polish will do. What do you think?
Think you need a big budget and a ton of time to get a really cool manicure? Think again. Creating some of summer’s coolest nail looks could not be easier… and many of them are DIY friendly. I took some clues from this month’s Glamour magazine story on nail trends and added my own favorites. Here are some super-simple tips from Jensy’s apartment to yours: