Flashback Fashion: How To Get A Sweet 90s-Style French Tipped Manicure

Can the French manicure come back with a vengeance along with platform sneakers and double bun hairdos?

Jun 30, 2013 at 12:00pm | Leave a comment


“Okay, so you're probably going, ‘Is this like a Noxzema commercial or what?’ But seriously, I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl.”

They say that everything in fashion is cyclical. It was often considered to be a 30-year span in which trends came back into style. As the fashion industry speeds up (with a ton of help from the internet) and low-end brands are more quickly adopting high-end cuts giving more people access to runway looks, the machine of fashion seems to always be in overdrive.
We are now running through trends cutting the cycle down to a 20- or 10-year range. Hence the current reemergence of with grunge and club kid styles of the late 90’s and early aughts. Cher Horowitz was my style icon as a pre-teen and now I find myself creating outfits based around spaghetti strap mini dresses and white knee socks with plaid, yet again. 
Recently, everyone is wearing jellies with tattoo choker necklaces and iridescent everything. I find myself searching out vintage stores for ying-yang earrings and cutting all my t-shirts into crop tops until my floor is littered with scraps of jersey knit fabric. (Extra tip! The sliced bottom of a t-shirt doubles as an awesome headband!)
Last week I wore a furry light pink baby backpack out to a party and everyone died over it. It was a birthday gift from my father for my 13th birthday, and at the time, circa 2002, even I thought the look was a bit passé.
This brings me to my current conundrum. As a citizen of the current female race I am obsessed with nail art. I almost never sport a bare nail and I collect nail polish like little magical jewels that I cherish and admire on my vanity. One afternoon as I was painting my nails (I find 3 pm to be the most advantageous time for nail painting. I’ve already showered, I don’t have to worry about making food yet, and there is still adequate time before I need to go out so I can be more vigilant about avoiding smears and smudges) my boyfriend off-handedly suggested that I do a traditional French manicure.
“That’s sooooo trashy!” I squealed without hesitation. 
“Oh, I think it’s pretty hot,” he replied
“That’s just because you watch too much porn,” I teased.
“No, I think it’s really sexy and pretty.”
I took a moment to process. Maybe the white tips weren’t just for tan Long Island women with engagement rings. Maybe there was some truth to his statement. I loved trying to perfect a square-tipped Frenchie as a tween. I thought it made me look the height of sophistication.
Then, I realized a simple fact: My boyfriend is 11 years older than me, and French manicures were THE popular nail style of his teen years. Every girl he had a crush on in high school had a French manicure and he still associates it with attractive women. It made me wonder, can the French manicure come back with a vengeance along with platform sneakers and double bun hairdos?
I decided I had to do it for myself to test out my theory. I bought one of those French tip nail art pens. The one I got SUCKED and it didn’t even use real nail polish but instead a thin watery ink-like substance. It washed off with water and couldn’t even stand up to being painted over with a topcoat. Instead it smeared and crackled. Ultimate fail. I knew I had to go old school. 

My precious arsenal of polishes.

I bought Rimmel French Manicure nail polish in white. It has an extra thin brush for a neater and more precise application. I carefully painted the tips of my short nails desperately trying to make the lines straight and even with my genetically shaky hands. Tthanks for the other crappy genetic present DAD! I don’t think this one is going to come back into style though.)
It was actually quite difficult and I do this shit all the time! I didn’t stress about the excess nail polish that got on the sides of every nail because I planned to clean everything up at the end with an acetone-dipped q-tip. 

The secret key to convince yourself that you are actually decent at nail art.

The polish was thick and created an opaque line with one coat. I let it dry for at least 10 minutes before I dared to paint with the main color. I went with a color I already had, OPI in Passion. It is a light milky polish in a peachy-nude shade. I applied two coats, and then a quick swipe of Seche Vite for good measure and faster drying times. I finished it off with a little gentle cuticle scrubbing with the q-tip to make everything presentable.

I am trying to pose like those cheesy and always faded photographs that always hang haphazardly in nail salon windows. Chic, mais non?!

The final product? I love it. My hands look clean, delicate, and in the words of my boyfriend, decidedly sexy. It’s a little more work than a quick swipe of a bright color, but definitely less time-consuming that trying to paint a micro rendition of a flower or zebra print, or a bag of Doritos on your nails.
Everyone has commented on my subtle chic “throwback” look, and I plan on wearing it often to take advantage of this return of the 90s but I’m not worried. Another 90s revival is probably right around the corner. 

As if!

Would you do a French manicure? Do you care what nail art your boyfriend thinks is sexy? Do you dig the 90s? Did the French manicure ever leave?!? Send me your thoughts.