Random Sunday: Jolie-Laide

Having spent this past week wearing a taupe shade of nail polish called You Don’t Know Jacques (from the OPI French collection), I wanted to do a quick np post on my interest in the quirkier colors out there — a trend I don’t recall from my last go-round with polish a decade or two ago.

Yes, I remember having a bluebell-colored polish from the drugstore when I was ten.  But for most of my adult life, the nail polish on offer has fallen into two general categories — the safe-for-work tans, soft pinks and inoffensive neutrals you could imagine on a woman in a K Street law firm; and at the other end of the spectrum, the sorts of wild (or wildly garish) shades mentally reserved for teenagers, showgirls and other people not required to dress conservatively for work — things like lime frost and candied cherry and deep purple.

Times have changed, and I am pleased.  When Chanel makes a deep dark blue, and a black, and (the original) Vamp, interesting colors have become more socially acceptable.  And the polishes themselves are nicer, not cheap crap picked up in the drugstore novelty aisle two weeks before Halloween.   Everyone has their own personal ideas regarding boundaries of taste (I am not sure how I feel about the Konad stencils and/or super long nails) but I think we could all agree that the sight of a chic mature woman sporting a tidy navy manicure isn’t unimaginable.

It seems to me that there exist, within the nail polish world, colors that mirror some of the oddities of the perfume world — the nail-polish equivalents of scents like Yatagan, CdG 2, Dans tes Bras, Querelle.   Some people might find them strangely beautiful and others merely strange, or just plain ugly.  But the word jolie-laide popped into my mind, “pretty-ugly,” that wonderful French term I understand as meaning unconventional beauty (and French readers — please feel free to expand on the jolie-laide concept).

I bought You Don’t Know Jacques untested because it was, on sight, the ugliest color of polish I’d ever seen.  I was fascinated.   I’ve uploaded a photo of the bottle at the top.  Come on — isn’t that hideous?  Who on earth would choose to wear that mushroomy gray-brown, and why did OPI make it?   Another weird color is Sephora by OPI (SOPI) Metro Chic, shown at left, which is routinely sold out at the stores, the pale gray-purple of a fading bruise, but to my eye Jacques was uglier.   I bought it, ran home, and did a manicure.

You already know how this comes out, don’t you?  Jacques is gorgeous.  Against my ppp skin, and with three coats, it’s a muted, slightly grayish brown cream — the color of hot cocoa with a hint of steam over it.  People stopped me all week to comment on it.  It is, again (I need to learn to remember this) significantly different on my skin than it looks in the bottle — richer and darker.  I’ve swatched Metro Chic in the store a couple of times, and although it looks like it would be a better fit for me, I think it gives me corpse hands.  I’ll probably buy it anyway just so I can do a complete mani and see how I feel.

Fall is all about the gray nail — see here for some beautiful examples.   Last year I’d have told you I’d shave my eyebrows before I’d wear gray polish.  Now my most pressing question is: which to try first?  Suggestions?   By the way, I am obsessed with a cream finish rather than heavy shimmer, I find it so elegant.  What do you think of China Glaze Recycle?  Are there other oddities out there I should be looking for?   How do you feel about weird nail colors, can you/would you wear them to work? (I work out of the home and mostly could wear anything I want.)

images: sephora.com   also, elegant standards aside, I want SOPI’s I’m With Brad, a deep reddish-bronze-black shimmer that makes my skin look like Snow White’s.

  • Chardondelait says:

    This is so topical. I just discovered Metro Chic the other day – what a find! It looks gorgeous on me, and very few colors do.

  • Shryh says:

    For creme polishes, nothing, absolutely NOTHING beats Rescue Beauty Lounge. They’re pricey at $18 a bottle, but worth every single cent. The creme polishes you may be interested in are Grunge, Concrete Jungle (light grey), Stormy (concrete grey) and maybe even Dead Calm (deep blue). 🙂

    • March says:

      I keep eyeballing them online, and they look gorgeous. I am also obsessed with Recycle (the green one.) Only a matter of time, I am sure. Wondering if Dead Calm is one of those fade-to-black ones indoors? 😕

  • violetnoir says:

    Well, I love all of those “weird,” “fugly” colors, which on my skin look freakin’ fantastic, if I may say so myself!

    I am not into konads or long nails, but give me a weird color any day.

    CG Recycle is amazing! It looks like shiny grey patent leather. Just gorgeous!

    I received the Rescue Beauty Lounge colors, No More War and Bruised, but I have not worn them…yet! I think they will both be stunners.

    Last week I rocked Light My Sapphire, and just applied Zoya Shivon from the brand new Flourish line. Zoya is a wonderful line too, March, that you may want to explore.


    • March says:

      So, Recycle is a cream? Sometimes it’s hard to tell in the photos. That’s it, I need it. 🙂 It’s the one that looks prettiest to me in the photos.

      I need to check out those Zoyas, Louise gave me a couple.

  • elizablue says:

    i am interested in the “I’m With Brad” color you wrote about…is that OPI? Not so good with the acronyms, not sure what SOPI is…help!

  • Aparatchick says:

    I’m with Gail on Metro Chic (I’m also wearing it today); it takes on a different hue depending on what color you’re wearing near it.

    I only do np on my toes – anything on my fingers gets bashed around too much at work. Add to that I have the stubbiest fingers ever and I don’t want to draw attention to them. 🙁

    • March says:

      Okay, that’s it. I’m buying it. 🙂

      I have short, stubby fingers too. (I prefer to call them “small hands.”) [-( I keep my nail a little longer because of that, thinking it gives the illusion of longer fingers, but maybe I’m just kidding myself.

  • Annie says:

    :((OMG….I just saw the Rescue Beauty Lounge Recycle…ACK…I LOVE IT!!!…..$18:-w…and I could put a little green streak in my hair…ooooo,my diva princess grand-daughter will enjoy that!:x

    • March says:

      I know, I know!!! A green cream is rare as a unicorn… even the purple I could live without, much as I love purple. But that green. It’s only a matter of time before I crack. Why don’t more people make non-shimmer greens, purples and blues? (Did I ask this last week?)

  • Gail S says:

    Oh duh…..my own stash was what I was remembering! Depending on your skin tone, Rescue Beauty Lounge Concrete Jungle or Stormy. Nice smooth cream finishes, here’s a link to one of the nail polish blogs with several RBL swatches.


    • March says:


      I am trying not to go down that slippery slope. I’ve been lusting after Recycle forever, a green cream is almost impossible to find. And ditto that Dead Calm, although I wonder if it’s a fade-to-black in indoor lighting. I keep stopping at the $18 plus shipping (says the woman who just forked over $15 for Laura Mercier Caviar Dreams and $40 for Kaleidoscope and Haute Chocolate.) 😮

  • Gail S says:

    Hey, I’m wearing Metro Chic today! What I’ve discovered about it is that how it looks depends on what you’re wearing. If you want to bring out the purple a bit, wear purple clothes with it 🙂

    I wear anything I want on my nails because they’re covered by gloves at work anyway. The slight conservative bent that comes with age keeps me in line a bit though, last Tuesday I was sporting a royal blue Election Day manicure. Freaked me out every time I caught sight of it! I guess those days are mostly over for me :((

    I’ve seen something lately in the gray range that sounds like what you’re looking for, but I can’t place it right now…..will think on it some more.

    • March says:

      Oh, that’s interesting! Well, I wear purple all the time, my favorite color 🙂 so that would be interesting. One of these posts I’ll yak about skin tone. Louise and I have swatched together and it’s interesting how our slight variations can produce really different results in some polish appearances.

      You know it’s only a matter of time before I buy Metro Chic anyway. Next time I see a single bottle still stocked I’ll grab it.

  • Existentialist says:

    I like the looks of this a lot, but I am still hung up on the almost-blacks of last year, and particularly a Sally Hanson sort of blackish raisin-bronze thing (don’t know the name, sorry) that has a sort of Goth feel but is saved by it’s warm brown tones. But I will probably get a bottle of YDK Jacques, just to bring myself into 2008. I think matte finishes are safer for a mature woman (such as myself) than shimmer finishes, but perhaps I am just too conservative (in matters of nails, not anything else, mind you).
    I think I used the phrase, “sort of” way too much here.

    • March says:

      The almost-blacks. I could write an ode to those things. Eventually, though, I’d wind up with h50 of ’em, and I’m really trying to manage the growth of this hobby (I know, good luck with that). So for the time being I am limiting myself to Lincoln Park After Dark, Russian Navy, the new Laura Mercier Caviar Dreams (which is a duochrome but again, indoors, essentially black) and Suzi Says Da!

      I sort of feel your pain about repetitive phrasing. One of the funniest things I’ve seen was when another writer copied various blogging “styles” — seeing your verbal tics rendered by someone else is amusing and insightful. :”>

    • March says:

      PS Meant to add: I know exactly the Sally Hansen you’re talking about! It’s a great color, and they usually stock it right next to their black (which Louise pointed out to me is great for frankening, and as a black base coat). One of these days it will hurl itself into my shopping basket, I am sure.

      • Existentialist says:

        Glad to hear I am not the only one still liking the almost-black polishes. I never got into the blue/black ones, as the Sally Hanson sort of became my true love last year, and I’m wearing it now. I did pick up a bottle of YDK Jacques tonight, and will probably try it out this weekend. Hoping it looks as good on my hands as it sounds like it did on yours.

  • Catherine says:

    Okay! That’s it!

    I was holding this bottle in my hands just yesterday, but I asked DH’s opinion. He’s a delightful someone who says almost everything is wonderful because I’m wearing/holding/smelling of it. But he just stayed silent. I pressed him. “It kind of scary, isn’t it?” he asked.

    When DH says something even remotely negative or non-committal, I usually back away.

    But you *caught it*, March! Jolie-laide. So my new nail polishes need a sister (Parlez-Vous OPI & Smokin’ in Havanna, I think they’re called). Or maybe four new sisters. My head is spinning over quite a few for exactly the reason you said: I can paint my nails something else besides conservative or vixen and not quiver. (Or, am I just getting old enough that I don’t care squat?!)

    I love these Sunday nail polish posts. Thanks, March!

    • Catherine says:

      Oh, about your question (rushed through in my haste to proclaim my admiration of you and your Jacques aesthetic!): I generally prefer a touch of shimmer over matte. It reflects away from my dry cuticles. But I will never do intense sparkles after one mani a long time ago that took weeks to get the sparkles off. The sparkly “Designer” OPI series just scares me. I’d rather have cream/matte nails.

      • March says:

        PS Getting those sparkles off is a bitch! As I think you read last week, after 7 layers or some stupid thing it took me forever to get my np off. :”> And I have this one polish with giant sparkle chunks that is a real bear.

        One way I like sparkles in a clear base is over something soft, or a coordinating deep tone. It can look subtle but still interesting. Small silver glitter over navy, for instance, is lovely.

    • March says:

      Parlez-Vous OPI is stunning — I think it, on me, is sort of what Metro Chic looks like on people with warmer, slightly deeper skin tones, whereas I make Metro Chic look very cold and more gray than purple.

      I like shimmer too, and if you saw my growing np collection you’d know I like sparkle! 🙂 I’m a total sucker for something really loud and unusual. Re those Designer OPIs — I have only one, a purple-blue, and I think it’s wonderful, but it is, as Tim Gunn says, “a lot of look.”

      I’m still trying to get the jelly finishes to apply better, which is probably just a matter of practice.

  • rosarita says:

    I love the look of gray polish, but living in the sticks as I do, it’s difficult to find. I’ve been stalking that SH Stormy Blue for ages, along with CG Recycle, and can’t find either of them. The OPI French collection is accessible, just haven’t given in to YDKJ yet, although every time I read a rave about it I want a bottle.

    I can’t wear np to work at all, it’s a local health dept no-no (I manage a high school cafeteria.) So, my Friday night ritual is to watch What Not to Wear on TLC while polishing my fingernails (toes are polished year ’round.) In the summer when I’m unemployed, I wear whatever I please and change it often. For my Friday night school year manis, much depends on my WE plans; if I’m really tired or have lots of domestic duties to attend to, I’ll go w/ a simpler neutral color, just bcs it’s less work. Or I just buff. And yes, I’m well aware that I have no life, but, it makes me happy to catch a glimpse of my hands on the weekends, sporting colorful nails and wearing lots of rings. It makes me feel more like myself, kind of like wearing perfume! ;;)

    • March says:

      Wait … other people are raving about Jacques? I’ll have to go look! Although obviously on Scrangie etc. you look at those pics and think, gorgeous!

      I never see a gray here, never. And wanted to test some, can’t decide whether to go warm/cool/light/dark.

      I had no idea until I started painting how happy my mani would make me. 🙂 Tomorrow’s color (did not quite get to it today): either Laura Mercier Caviar Dreams or something green.

  • Louise says:

    That Jacques is such a shocker 😮 By all rights he should look totally fugly, but you wear him so well…he’s somewhere between elegant and funky. I may need to seek him out :d/

    This is a fab season for off-beat colors, much more creative than in past falls, I think. The mushrooms, grays, odd purples, gold-silvers, etc. are so much fun. I’m loving sharing this little hobby with ya 😡 !

    • March says:

      Really, is this more creative?!?! I mean, I have nothing to compare it to. In my previous OPI days I remember a lot of vampy reds (I mean sexy reds, not *the* vamp) and oranges and beiges. I assumed all these colors had been out…

      You know what I wish? If I were queen? That more lines would do more interesting, muted cream colors. RBL is onto something.

  • Musette says:

    I used to love a metallic greige/tan from OPI back before you could get it any and everywhere – can’t remember the name (and I just dumped all the 10yr old polishes). I only worked during the summer – those of you who met me at the Event saw me with a reasonable tan – anytime other than summer I am a icky-sick shade of yellowish tan.

    I stick with neutral on the hands because a) I handle so much metal and chip-inducing materials and b) my nails are like paper, so anything not neutral shows all the peeling ridges, etc.

    But them TOES! Whole ‘nother thing entirely! I’m a huge fan of high-gloss RED and occasionally a sporty orange. Blue is not yet on my agenda but ya nebber know…..

    congrats, Annie, on your early retirement. Retirement….:-? what a concept!

    xoxoxo >-)

    • March says:

      The toes are a playground. A wonderland. Of course right now mine are disgusting, but you wait! Next summer they will be awesome! 😡

  • Kristy says:

    Woohoo for gray polish! I love gray. I wear every color nailpolish imaginable to work and I don’t think anyone’s ever commented on it, but I think people are much more likely to comment on my hair being blue instead.
    I’m really glad there’s all sorts of weird cool toned shades coming out like greige and whatnot, I keep my color palette limited to “nuclear winter” shades with my complexion and it’s always been somewhat limiting, but this really opens up possibilities for me. Hooray!

    • March says:

      Um, yes. Maybe the blue hair distracts from the gray nails… hey, you could really freak them out and come in a French manicure? Something so dull it would be edgy? 😉

      I am guessing there are skin tone issues with the grays and can’t decide what tonal direction to take. I have seen not a SINGLE gray in the store, guess I will have to order online. Unsniffed. So to speak. 🙂

      • Catherine says:

        Isn’t there a something-whatnot-maybe grey in the Toyland Collection? Trying to remember…

        • March says:

          Brand New Skates, if I remember correctly, and it IS gorgeous. But it is (essentially) dark silver, being metallic and I have a couple silvers. I am jonesing more for a non-metallic, non-shimmer, cream finish gray because my newest loves seem to fall there, no matter how my magpie eye is attracted to glitter (and it is.)

  • Annie says:

    :dWeeeell,Lordy,Guuurl…..I have come to grips with my early retirement,& thanks to you-all,I am free to wear ANY dern thing I wish!!…I bought OPI’s Lincoln Park At Night,after someone here was talking about it…my fingers & toes LOVE it(at least I think that’s the name…the cats have been on my dresser,and I’m going to have to hunt for it)…My hair is now a subdued red,so the 80 year old men won’t hit on me in the donut shop(as they did when I let it go “naturally gray”…ACK…what was I thinking???),and I now wear ANY perfume I want at any time I want….I love youse guys…I’ve learned so much…but gray fingers…hmmmmm:-?

    • March says:

      Glad you are enjoying the Lincoln Park (there are 2 — after dark and at midnight? wonder which one the cats have…)

      Yeah, gray fingers, hmmmmm. I thought, no, that’s too ugly to be serious. But click through to that link, they are lovely, no?

      PS I went gray in college and thus have been dyeing my hair for so long; maybe I’ll stop eventually, but the roots depress me.

    • Catherine says:

      I was just looking at Lincoln in the Park this weekend–it’s marvelous!