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?
Publish date:
June 30, 2013
nails, clueless, french manicures

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.

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 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.

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.

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.