How to go from tacky to fashionable with French nail art


VIVE LA FRENCH model Gigi Hadid wore nail artist Jin Soon Choi's classic French at Michael Kors' Spring 2022 show.

When it comes to manicures, most people are fluent in French. Traditionally defined as neutral nails with white edges, the French manicure has gone out of style since its introduction in the 1970s. Only recently has it been phased out completely, in connection with high school proms and tacky mall culture of the 2000s. But like low-rise jeans and other styles, the French is back - although it may look a little different now than it did in "The Hills.

Women are updating the simple snow-like tip by changing its shape or adopting colors and patterns. "There are so many possibilities," says Los Angeles manicurist Brittney Boyce, whose clients request everything from two-color manicures to periwinkle waves.

Countless iterations can be found without scrolling too deep on social media. On Instagram, Lizzo flaunts mauve and pink glitter-tipped claws, and Kourtney Kardashian wore black, eggplant and red tips at this year's Oscars, Grammys and her May wedding, respectively. Jennifer Lopez showed off two angular Frenchmen during her day at Tribeca Music Festival 2022, as Nicola Peltz married Brooklyn Beckham to a cream-colored Frenchman - a Frenchman whose mother-in-law, Victoria, is a woman who has been married to a Frenchman for over a decade. It's a modern take on the moony style her mother-in-law Victoria loved when she was a Spice Girl.

HOT TIP Kourtney Kardashian wore a black spiked French manicure with Travis Barker at the 94th Annual Academy Awards in March.

"French manicures are everything right now," said Jin Soon Choi, the New York-based nail expert behind the classic manicure on the Michael Kors spring 2022 runway. Ms. Choi reported that while traditional French is becoming more popular, her clients often add animal prints, geometric shapes or polka polka dots. Los Angeles nail artist Betina Goldstein suggests a subtle French, an ultra-thin lacquered tip (in any shade) that makes the nail bed look longer.

The French manicure was born in 1977 when a Hollywood director commissioned Jeff Pink, founder of nail brand Orly, to create a look that would complement any on-screen costume. His solution was a hit. "The director said, 'Jeff …… You should win an Oscar,'" recalls Mr. Pink, who is still waiting for his figurine. Orly French Manicure Kits remains one of the company's best-selling products.

For decades, French fans have included Cher, Paula Abdul and Lil Kim, but the look's popularity transcended the star's influence. "It was a 'mass piracy' style because it wasn't just an icon for an elite few," says Brooklyn fashion historian Suzanne E. Shapiro, author of "Nails: The Story of Modern Manicure. author of "Nails: The Story of Modern Nail Art. She attributes this to the affordable price of polish and the versatility of the look. It also lowers the cost for salon fans: The flesh-colored base eliminates the need for constant professional touch-ups.

NAIL IT The three elements of flawless home French. From left: First Kiss nail polish, $11,; nail press, $7,; Blanc Écume; nail polish, $30,

To get flawless french cheese, Ms. Boyce says to lightly polish the nails, wipe the surface with acetone, and apply a base coat. Apply a neutral polish over the entire nail. For a crisp finish, split the tip of the brush into two parts, Ms. Goldstein says. Dip the streak brush into the opaque lacquer, then drag the polish from one corner of the nail to the center. Repeat on the other side to create a line. Got shaky hands? Try painting white lacquer on a silicone nail press (like the one here), wedge the nail tip into the press and clean the edges with remover. To prevent streaking, let the polish set before adding the clear top coat.

Alex Esposito Burton, a 32-year-old copywriter in Kansas City, Missouri, says, "It's a great way to be chic and classic at the same time." She went viral on TikTok after posting the "bridal blue" French she created for her sister's surprise. June engagement. The style is a colorful interpretation of the classic French worn down the aisle by the siblings' mother in 1989. The post has received more than 16 million views.

Hillary Samuels, 51, a sleep coach in Parkland, Florida, appreciates the intergenerational appeal. She wore a French dress from the '80s to the '00s and rediscovered it about a year ago. Now, her athletic skills are similar to those of her teenage son's girlfriend.

Lindsay Luv is a 30-something Los Angeles DJ whose nails take the spotlight when she spins, and she likes the look to be easy to maintain. "As a mom, I like French," says Ms. Luv, who prefers a clear base. "When you grow up, who knows."

Britney Turner, 30, a content creator in Harrison, N.J., predicts the French will continue to thrive. "I think when I have kids, it will reinvent itself in the future," she says. Even if it is once again considered inferior, devotees need not worry: It will not go away forever. Ms. Shapiro said, "I think it's just too beloved to really leave."

Fresh paint

Colorful, new and chic French traditional style.

  1. Mini Mani:'The skinny' will elongate your nail bed with a small white or colored strip at the tip.
  1. High Tide:This swooping style, called "wave", adds a rough twist to the typical Frenchman.
  1. The upcoming subtraction:In the "Negative Space" mani, the French tip is thinly contoured but not applied.
  1. Double Cross:In its sharpest iteration, "Two-Tone V" has overlapping bands of two tones.
  1. Feels a little clumsy:French with patterns is fresh, playful, and easy to DIY with a punting tool or toothpick.

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