Nail polish is a powerful style weapon because it can make or break an outfit. Glitter nail polish to a job interview? A definite no. Glitter nail polish to a sorority formal? A definite yes. While some nail polishes are more appropriate in some situations than others, there are eight essential nail colors every collegiette should have in her beauty arsenal. HC is here to let you know what those shades are and when to use them.
1. A Bold Red
Red is a classic nail polish color because it’s one of the more versatile ones. Felicia Fatur, a professional nail artist at Sean’s Signature Salon & Spa, says “you can never go wrong with red!” It can be edgy, it can be glamorous, it can be professional—basically, it can be whatever you need it to be. Luckily, “reds look good on any skin tone,” Fatur says.
A strong red is also in style no matter the season, unlike pastels, whose popularity tends to ebb and flow depending on the season. For a fabulous red that is perfect for any occasion, try OPI’s Big Apple Red ($8.99).
White nails are great for a modern, polished look. This shade works well in the winter months with a snowy backdrop as well as in the summer for a bright and clean look (white also looks awesome against a tan!).
White is also an essential shade for those who love their French manicures or DIY nail art. “French will never go out of style,” Fatur says.
For DIY nail art, Fatur says a reverse French manicure is currently trending. After painting your nails a nude base color, paint a white moon along the base of the nail. Instant chic!
A classic white to buy is Essie’s Blanc ($8.50). You might be worried that some whites go on streaky or see-through, but Blanc is perfect for both full-coverage nails and nail art designs.
There comes a time when a collegiette must look professional, and a neutral or nude polish is the perfect shade to pull off that look. “Nude nails are very popular right now,” Fatur says.
This color is essential for occasions like an interview because it makes you look put-together without being too casual, as is often the case with a naked nail or too flashy a nail, which can happen with a bright-colored mani.
Another perk of a neutral color is that mistakes are less noticeable with it. Chipped nails are a definite no-no in any situation, but especially in an interview. If you chip your nail getting a coffee or rifling through your wallet on the way, it’ll be less obvious with a neutral nail polish than with a colored one.
Even though there are times when you should stay professional with your manicure, every collegiette needs a fun glitter polish in her reserve. Glitter nail polish is a definite go-to for parties or fun evening events. Clear glitter is a great add-on to any shade you already own and is cheaper than buying colored glitter polishes in multiple hues. “A new trend is sheer nude with a touch of glitter,” Fatur says. “You can go from the office to the club in seconds!”
A must-have clear glitter polish is Essie’s Sparkle on Top ($8.50). It goes on as a topcoat over your favorite base shade.
A fabulous colored glitter polish is Deborah Lippmann’s Candy Shop ($19). It’s super fun, and because of all the colors, it can’t be mimicked by a clear glitter over a solid shade.
A navy polish is vital for collegiettes, especially during the fall and winter because it’s the perfect cold-weather color. This color is more professional than a hard black, so it can also work well at your internship or job. Fatur says “dark polish is best on short nails,” which is another reason navy is great for the workplace. If you do a lot of typing at your job, short nails are more appropriate!
Be careful, though, because chips will be more obvious and touch-ups might be needed more often with dark nails than with a lighter color. “Never ever walk around with dark, chipped nails!” Fatur says.
A gorgeous shade is OPI’s Incognito in Sausalito ($9). It’s a dark, inky navy that will look great with your outfit for class or your internship.
Pink is the ultimate feminine color. It’s a fun and flirty color for a warm spring break destination, summer vacation or any time you want to make an outfit look a little girlier. Pink polishes range from soft and pretty to vibrant and bold, but no matter your preference, pink is an essential addition to your polish collection.
For a bright pop of pink that isn’t overwhelming, try out Julep’s Avery ($14).
7. A Metallic
Metallics are the perfect nail polishes to dress up an outfit. A bit more mature than glitter, metallic shades like gold, silver and bronze are a great complement to a little black dress with corresponding jewelry. Bold finger-bling can really pull together an evening outfit!
Butter London’s Olympic Heavy Metal trio features three strong metallic shades. The glamorous gold is The Full Monty Nail Lacquer ($7.50), the sparkling silver polish is Diamond Geezer Nail Lacquer ($7.50) and the coppery bronze is The Old Bill Nail Lacquer ($7.50).
8. A Splurge Color
The most essential nail color a collegiette can have is one that makes you happy. While the above-mentioned colors are practical, every girl deserves at least one shade that she finds fun and gorgeous. Maybe it’s a super feminine hot pink or a neon green or a beachy turquoise—no matter what that splurge color is for you, don’t feel guilty about buying it! You (and your nails) deserve a fun, impulsive color.
For a splurge color this season, Fatur recommends a radiant orchid polish, which is Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2014. L’Oreal’s Royalty Reinvented ($4.99) is a great shade for showing off this current trend and being fun and flirty.
What are some of your must-have nail polish colors? Let us know in the comments!