By Dina Fierro

A classic French manicure.

The origins of the classic French manicure are difficult to trace. Some insist that the simple design, a clean pale pink nail with white tip, originated in France in the 1800′s, while others credit Max Factor for creating the look for Paris fashionistas in the 1930′s. American brand Orly definitely trademarked the term here in the States in 1978 with their popular at home kit. Yet, in recent years, the prevalence of statement-making hues like Chanel’s Vamp and Black Satin have attracted all of the attention while the sad French manicure languished in the corner. And though women in middle America may sport the French mani regularly, it’s a rare occurrence to see a chic woman in New York with the design. It got me thinking…is the French manicure perennial or passé? BN took the question to a few polish experts.

Joanna Czech, Founder, Sava Spa:
French Manicures are definitely passé. They used to be done to make believe that the nail plate was longer and used to create an illusion. To me, they are not elegant at all. The most elegant is the short, clean and natural nail plate. Use a shape that is natural to your finger – not overly square or too rounded. The only reason I would ever recommend a French manicure is a form of treatment for people with extremely short nails….a form of make-up so to speak to make them look longer.

Michelle Mismas, blogger/all around polish guru, All Lacquered Up:
A French manicure can look polished and classic if done well using an ivory or off white tip, dubbed the American Manicure. The problem is that most French manicures I see look fake and tacky because they have a stark white tip and are usually done on thick poorly executed acrylic nails. Besides there is such an incredible color range of polish on the market, why not have a little fun with your nails?

Carolyn Cianciotto, Founder, Carolyn New York:
They are so Cathy Lee “Over!” Why? Because the French really had nothing to do with that…
Second, one of the top editors of a major fashion mag here in NY told me so…Black nails are the new French manicure.

That said, there is a whole group of women that still LOVE the French and can’t let go, so if you must, make sure you don’t get French on the same day you wear a David Cassidy hair cut and highwaisted Jordache Jeans. A ton of people will agree that a French still looks pretty good…but one bit of advice – STOP wearing it on your feet!

Here’s some good news: wear what you like and what works for you. If you like it and wear it with confidence, who cares…

CND’s fall collection, dubbed Imperial Anarchy.

Roxanne Valinoti, Education Ambassador, CND:
French manicures are considered the “sexy woman’s red” or perfect for the “classic, sporty soccer mom.” They have stood the test of time and have become a standby for many special occasions for women, although it’s important to note that not every woman can sport the French manicure! If someone is a nail biter or has short chubby fingers, a French manicure will only enhance these flaws. If this is the case, it is then best to go with the color of the season, and this season colors are so rich and pigmented that they are hard to resist.

Originally published October 2007
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