When in doubt, wear red.
If you’re going to channel your inner Jessica Rabbit with a bold statement in red, you will want to quote fashion designer Bill Blass for doing so and not a Cosmo vox pop of the common man’s street advice. I happen to think the very same quote applies to manicures which is why I want to spend a lengthy post paying homage to the inspiration behind my blog’s name and show you how I like to best adorn my digits in a classic red that would make even Coco Chanel blush.
Red has always been a symbol of social status and achievement in ancient history and so it’s with no great surprise that women found a way to enhance their tips and toes with red varnish that could be flaunted against the modesty of traditional dress. Red varnish can be traced way back to 3000 BC China when women of high rank would soak their fingernails in a mixture of rose petals, bees wax, gelatin, gum Arabic and egg whites for hours. Hours. I never want to hear another Poshe vs Seche Vite debate again. Nefertiti and Cleopatra have also been known to colour their nails crimson with henna and even with blood! Now I wonder what would have happened if Lady Macbeth had taken to the Ancient Egyptians handiwork…pardon the pun.
History aside (a highly riveting read can be found here), time has come and gone, we’ve had the best and the blurst of times and red nail lacquer is still a staple shade that every woman must have as part of her beauty repertoire today. Red nails, short or long, are classy and chic and while the colour red has long had the connotation of oozing sex appeal from out of our ears, the important distinction to make is that when we choose to wear red, we aren’t doing it to make us sexy, we do it to express the sexiness and confidence we inherently possess and as the forward-thinking, fashion-savvy, poised and self-assured women that we are, we ain’t taking shit from nobody when it comes down to what we should and shouldn’t wear, least of all from a Cosmo “Ask a Guy” advice column. That, is how one wears red.
And this is how I wear it:
OPI‘s Got the Blues for Red is my kind of girl. HG, even. I’ve raved it, I’ve travelled with it and I’ve gifted it to friends all because I think it is a perfectly rich and dramatic red that can, and will, suit anyone. My skin tone is warm with yellow undertones, so protocol should dictate that I stick to orange-based reds like OPI’s Big Apple Red and Bullish on OPI and leave the blue-based shades of OPI’s Malaga Wine and Got the Blues for Red for the ladies with cooler skin and pink undertones – Mais non! Got the Blues for Red defies all of this as I have seen it complement women of varying ethnicities with both warm and cool skin tones. I will admit that it took me a substantial amount of time to find my HG red because scarlet tips looked garish on me for the most part and hunting down that perfect red felt just as impossible as finding those perfect jeans. But have courage, all ye faithful! Got the Blues for Red might just work for you, and the key is to keep experimenting! What I love about this high-shine, creme-finish polish is its chameleon-like ability to radiate a bright pin-up girl red in direct sunlight, assume a deep inky blood red under shade (pictured), and take cues from a glass of pinot noir when indoors. This level of versatility brings great depth to this polish which makes it unique in my humble opinion. Got the Blues for Red was released as part of the Chicago collection of Fall 2005 and you can find it as part of OPI’s Classics collection.
I like to wear this baby on short nails as a half-moon manicure (pictured). It works just as well as a full mani but I like to glam it up a touch more with the half-moon as a throwback to the 1940s. Herein lies part two of this very long blog post on beautiful, foolish things that would make Daisy Buchanan weep.
The Half-Moon Mani
Known as the reverse French manicure or half-moon manicure, this is most famously worn by Dita von Teese nowadays. It is a vintage look in which rounded nails are painted any choice of colour (commonly red) leaving the lunar or half-moon shape at the base of the nails natural and unpainted. Ruby red varnish and a shimmery frosty white for the half-moons are used to create Dita’s signature retro fingernails. I am personally not a huge fan of this look because of the stark contrast…it reminds me of pale girls in winter with evidently poorly applied fake tans. Let that be a lesson in contrast for all you budding photographers out there.
The half-moon mani first bared its tips in the 1920s and rose to prominence in the 30s. Worn by the likes of Joan Crawford, it was a symbol of glamour and nails were long and filed down to a finite pointy talon and typically painted red, leaving the tips and half-moons untouched. By the time the 40s came along, women would generally opt for less claw-like, slightly shorter and more rounded nails with the moons still left natural and polish painted all the way to the tips instead.
These days the modern half-moon mani can be created using any duo of colours, any length of nail and any shape and size of the half moon. My favourite tutorial can be found here.
For my own manicure, I used two coats of Zoya’s Jane as my base colour because my half-moons are quite prominent and I wanted to even them out to a more uniform crescent shape. Jane is a sheer, creamy off-white polish that is great for the standard French manicure but may not be the best choice for the half-moon because two coats take a while to dry. It’s best to choose a more opaque one-coater for your moons if you are inclined to paint them. My half moons were created free-hand with two coats of Got the Blues for Red. For reference, I have one coat each of Orly Bonder Base Coat and Seche Vite Top Coat.
I love how this look is, at once, elegant, seductive and edgy.
I’ve a feeling Beatrix Kiddo might wear it as razors on her days off. xd