The non-basic guide to nailing fall polish

Oxblood, brown, black. Such are the nail hues we’ve been accustomed to switching to when the leaves start to fall. While a good burgundy is certainly part of a fall manicure lineup, there is something to be said for venturing out and trying more seasonally unconventional shades, styles, and artistic touches. 

“I always suggest something fun for fall, not just the ordinary shades that everyone picks for the season,” says Shelly Hill of Base Coat nail salon in Los Angeles. But before choosing your color, take a moment to update your nail shape. 

Gone are the days of spotting short, sensible nails on the runway; this past fashion week brought  talons to the table. “Long, outlined nails were big,” notes Hill. “Think light [base] shades with bold lines outlining the edge of the nail.” To give the look a go, paint a neutral base similar to your skin tone. Then, take a small nail brush, dip it in bright polish, and carefully outline the entire nail edge. For a modern take on the French manicure, Hill suggests lining only along the nail top. No matter how you paint it, longer nails are a certain win.  And if you’re ready for a color revamp, read on.

Blue Nails Jin Soon

Deepest Navy

“[This shade] looks great with your favorite pair of jeans,” Hill says. We like JINsoon nail polish in Azurite, which shimmers with tiny specks of glitter for a little something extra. 

Creamy Moss

Dark green is a surprisingly flattering hue; we learned this while painting on Chanel Le Vernis Vert No. 22 a few years back. This season, the color’s softer cousin, creamy moss, feels fresh. Try Tenoverten lacquer in Park to get you going.

No matter how you paint it, longer nails are a certain win.

Orange Nails

Warm Bronze

If you’d like to take the pumpkin spice trend literally, lacquer up with an orangey bronze. It’s surprisingly flattering on all skin tones. Our current favorite: Rust & Varnish from Base Coat. Another option, Essie Say it Ain’t Soho, skews similarly autumnal.

Metallic Merlot

Red is classic—ergo, it’s easy to fall into a rouge rut the instant autumn rolls around. “Usually by the end of the [fall] season, I do not want to see another red nail for a long time!” Hill jokes. An exception can be made for a new crimson polish, The Message, from Smith & Cult. The shade gives classic red an edge thanks to a dose of heavy metal.

Red Nails

The New Neutral

Beige? Blasé. Putty is pretty. This one from Julep, Kelso, does the trick. The creamy vibe reads subdued on all skin tones—without actually blending in.


—Sophie Wirt. Feature illustration by Jehane Yazami.

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