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.