When I was a bit younger, black polish was reserved for two kinds of people: goth chicks and disaffected dudes in uninspired rock bands. That was it. Shortly after, however, black polish, and its surrogate dark-dark purple, became standard on the nails of women and girls from all walks of life.
Then, just as quickly as it appeared, black polish fell out of favor. We all held onto our bottles of Lincoln Park After Dark, but most of switched to lighter and brighter shades. But if the Oscar’s were any indication, women are going back to black polish in a big way.
I don’t wear black polish very often, but when I do, I like to do something a little bit special: an all black French manicure. That’s right, I said French manicure.
For this manicure you need four types of polish: base coat, black polish, top coat and matte top coat. For the base coat, I like OPI Chip Skip ($9). It really helps my manicure adhere and last.
Now, let’s talk about polish. For this manicure, you need black. Not bluish-black. Not purplish-black. You need true, unadulterated black. The only polish that I have ever found that gives you the rich, blackest black is OPI Black Onyx ($5). Not Black Satin…Black Onyx.
Step 1: Clean you nails, trim your cuticles and apply base coat. Allow a moment for it to dry.
Step 2: Apply two coats of black polish, allowing each one some time to dry. If you don’t give it a moment, you’ll end up with bubbles in the paint, and no one wants that.
Step 3: Apply regular topcoat. Walk away. You need to let this set for a good half an hour for best results, unless you have a UV nail lamp. This is a process, unless you have professional help, don’t rush it. Consider it a labor of love.
Step 4: When dry, apply tape guides to start painting the French manicure. With a traditional French, you leave room to paint the white tips. With this manicure, you actually want to use the guides to cover the portion of the nail that you do not want to paint.
Step 5: Once you’ve protected the top of the nail with tape, apply a coat of the matte topcoat. Allow to dry completely before removing the tape. And I mean completely.
Now that we’ve talked about how to do a stylish black French manicure, let’s talk about whether this is appropriate for work. For myself, I would wear this during recess. I would not wear it during session days because I think for most men and a lot of older folks in our corporate/political culture, black nails are just too weird. They don’t see them as fashionable because their only reference point is emo/goth kids with studded neck collars and too much eyeliner.
So if you do choose to wear it to work, especially on the Hill, keep in mind that you may be judged for wearing black polish. You may also be told that you can’t wear black polish to work again. So just be aware that many people will consider it inappropriate.