Nail Polish Styling: How Do You Coordinate Colors?

January 25, 2011

Several readers have asked for tips on how I pick out nail polish colors for tips and toes. I’d like to open this up to hear how you coordinate your nail polish too! My personal style is on the conservative side and I work in a corporate office environment with a business casual dress code. I rarely match my fingers with toes for nail polish, although sometimes I will use shades within the same color family. My nail polish picks are usually spur of the moment picks based on mood. Often times I cannot decide on my own so I photo-text a picture to my sister to help me decide or I bring 3-4 bottles of my own to the salon and ask for assistance with coordination.

I’m usually open to trying anything. I’ll mix creams with frosts, brights with pales, darks with lights, blues with greens, corals with pinks etc. Often times I’ll use similar colors, just with slightly different variations like a cream grey and a shimmery grey. Swatch testing on fingers or holding the bottles next to each other help me figure out which colors go together. Some combinations are total failures (like Jade + Lilac Sky). There are a number of mani/pedi posts I’ve featured before if you search through the archives you might get some more ideas. Below are a few I’ve done before. There are way too many for me to remember most.

Swatch testing on my fingers to see which is a yay or nay combination:

Left = nay, right = yay! (purple on fingers, steel on toes)

Holding the bottles next to each other, Left = Nay, Right = Yay! (green on toes, beige on fingers)

My nail polish picks are usually spur of the moment, but if I try to think more about my method, I would have to say my picks usually revolve around the following:

1) Is it during the week or nearing the weekend? If it’s during the week I’ll try to keep the brights or non-neutrals on the toes (less visible and more forgiving to wear those super bright shades). If it’s nearing the weekend then I’m more brave in wearing non-neutrals.

2) What time of year is it? Southern California has great weather year round, but I still prefer brights in spring/summer and darks/reds during the fall/holiday season.

3) What am I in the mood for? I often like to mix something old with something new. My nail polish moods usually revolve around my clothing moods. For clothing I go through waves of color phases. Sometimes I’m all about gray, sometimes I like adding a pop of color to neutrals, sometimes I just can’t get enough darks.

A few other frequently asked nail polish questions:

1) Are my mani/pedis done by myself or at a salon? Mostly at the salon (75%), occasionally on my own (25%).

2) How often do I get my nails done? It varies depending on how busy I am, but it ranges from once a week to once every other week.

How do you pick out your nail colors?

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