SEPTEMBER 15, 2011
Nail Colors for the Changing Season
Jennifer Balbier, who oversees MAC Cosmetics, feels bright and fluorescent colors look out of place with the heavier, darker fabrics of fall.Jennifer Balbier, who oversees MAC Cosmetics, feels bright and fluorescent colors look out of place with the heavier, darker fabrics of fall.
Jennifer Balbier, in her office, discussing the favorite fall colors and also the process in which to make them. New York, New York. September 9, 2011. Credit: Mimi Ritzen Crawford for The Wall Street Journal.
As the weather gets colder, many women rethink their nail color. "You can't be running around in a tweed outfit and fluorescent nails," says Jennifer Balbier, senior vice president of global product development, artistry brands, at Estée Lauder Cos.
Ms. Balbier, who oversees her company's MAC Cosmetics, among other Estée Lauder brands, feels that very bright and fluorescent colors look out of place when juxtaposed with the heavier, darker fabrics of fall. She typically switches to deeper shades after Labor Day.
Many shades that are currently trendy go with autumn's rich hues, she says. She is a fan of nude skin-tone colors, which are versatile and more current than pinks. She also likes brown shades with a hint of gold, deep reds with blue tinges or an unexpected shade of deep, greenish blue.
Fall colors. New York, New York. September 9, 2011. Credit: Mimi Ritzen Crawford for The Wall Street Journal.
Gray and grayish-black, too, are nail-color trends this season, Ms. Balbier notes. And black and navy blue—which started as fashion trends several years ago—have now joined red in becoming fashionable fall staples.
Of course, women who dress primarily in black may want to avoid adding pure black nails. Ms. Balbier suggests wearing a nail shade with some shine when going very dark. Pick a shade of black that has hints of blue or green in it, she suggests. For such ensembles, Ms. Balbier favors colors that "look like the sheen when the street's wet—when you move your hands it makes it look as if you dipped your fingers in an oil slick."
For the more conservative woman, Ms. Balbier suggests a deep, dark purple or red with a shiny top coat. "You're still on trend but staying close to the red, purple family is often less daunting than the greens, grays and blues."
Women should also consider skin tone when picking polish, like they would when choosing makeup. "If you have olive skin, you have to be really careful about putting on shades that are too cold because it clashes with your skin," Ms. Balbier says. For dark-skinned women, "nothing looks better than a nail with a hint of pearl in it," she says.
People with fair skin tend to favor translucent colors, "but I would opt for a more opaque nail—there's nothing like a fantastic red on a super translucent hand," she says.
The shape of your nail and its length can also project facets of your personality, Ms. Balbier says. "Long and pointy is very sexy and mysterious—it shows that you're inventive, willing to try new things," she says. But she is partial to "very, very short nails" that give "little dots of color" as the hands move. Short nails can telegraph that you are "no nonsense, you're confident in who you are."
Although Ms. Balbier is a fan of expressive nail art such as glued-on crystals or painted motifs, she cautions that they may not be appropriate for many workplaces. "If you work on Wall Street, glittery nails in the workplace might be too much," she says. If you want to dabble in an unusual look, Ms. Balbier suggests having the crystals or art on just one nail—your pinkie, perhaps.
Ms. Balbier doesn't believe in matching nails to lipstick or other accessories, calling that a throwback to a more staid time. She also says toe and fingernail colors shouldn't match exactly "unless you're a very conservative person."
But she does believe in making sure her polish shades are "not colliding" with her jewelry. "I hate seeing women who just got engaged, and they are wearing a great engagement ring and they've got on some super-trendy fluorescent color on their nails," she says. "Anything red in that instance looks much better."
If Ms. Balbier is wearing jewelry with deep tones like emerald or ruby, she may wear gold polish "because it's more warm." With paler stones such as aquamarine, she favors cooler nail colors.
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