Men flaunting polished tips is not a new trend – rock’n’roll legends such as David Bowie and Kurt Cobain were nailing the look decades ago – but 2019 has seen it ramp up a notch. Once upon a time a simple monochromatic polish choice would suffice, perhaps in black to illustrate the wearer’s angst, however, the new rules of male manicures dictate that more is more, whether that’s more colour, more detail or more daring embellishments (we’re looking at you, Marc Jacobs).
This should come as no surprise. Men’s style this year was bold enough for us to create the inaugural GQ’s Extra-Dressed Men list, after all. If men’s clothes are getting wilder, why wouldn’t grooming routines follow suit? While salons like the now-closed WAH Nails (replaced by Beautystack) and Imarni Nails have been painting intricate designs on the nails of London’s most stylish women for years, men from across all industries are also beginning to flaunt immaculate manicures that would make the Insta girls sick with envy.
From A$AP Rocky’s “Fck You” middle fingers to Harry Styles’ sweet smiley faces, as well as Anwar Hadid and Dua Lipa’s matching couple manis, the trend is spreading thick and fast, and if you want to keep your outfits looking polished in 2020, then you’ll need to get some on your fingertips.
Our advice? Start simple. If you’ve never worn nail varnish before and are feeling nervous about it, then leave the intricate designs for later and choose one or two colours that you can either alternate between fingers or hands – if you’re really unsure about it, you could even leave some nails blank à la A$AP Rocky.
It should also be noted that if you’re planning on doing your own nails, it will take some practice and you’ll be better off perfecting the art of a neat, simple, block-colour nail than trying to jump in at the deep end with punky flames. Make things easier for yourself by sticking to tried-and-trusted brands such as OPI, Essie, Nails Inc and Chanel, which is even launching nail varnish specifically for men next year. This will ensure you get a more even coat of varnish that you won’t have to go over a million times for vibrant results. Do not, under any circumstances, forget to prime with a base coat and finish with a top coat – you want your handy work to last as long as possible, don’t you?
Once you’ve mastered the basics, get yourself a striping brush and a dotting tool to try out more daring designs. Again, this will take practice, so if you can’t be bothered to learn how to paint your design of choice ambidextrously, then you might want to head to a professional. WAH Nails’ successor, Beautystack, is basically Deliveroo for nail art, on which you can browse designs by nail artists across the country and book appointments directly through the app. If you can’t see anything that takes your fancy (naturally, a lot of the styles on the app are currently aimed at women), you can also message the artist through the app to see if they can do a specific look.
If you’re in London, then you might also want to head to The Curtain’s Imarni Nails in Shoreditch, which has been polishing the nails of Chelsea FC’s Michy Batshuayi recently, and its portfolio of astonishingly precise designs suggests that its artists will be able to handle any request you might throw at them. Having done Winnie Harlow’s nails for the GQ Men Of The Year Awards 2019, Camberwell’s Reecey Roos is also renowned across the capital for its vibrant designs, as is Covent Garden’s Nail Club. After something slightly more low-key? The fashion pack’s favourite spot DryBy is your go-to. Don’t be put off by the female-focused, millennial-pink marketing of some of these salons – 2020 is the year we break down outdated gender stereotypes once and for all, remember?