There are boatloads of fun nail trends happening in the beauty world right now: mismatched shades on every finger, primary colours, neons. But what if your goal isn’t necessarily to look trendy or “fun,” but to look, dare we say, expensive? Playful nails aren’t always the move, especially if you’re going to a job interview or black-tie affair or if you’re simply trying to dress more sophisticated. What’s cool about nail polish is that it’s a really simple, affordable way to elevate your outfit—and just as effective at making you look more polished as a new cult bag, velvet hair band or any other elegant accessory.
Whenever I want to look more adult (“richer,” if you will), I’ve come to rely on the following nine shades. Just because they look expensive doesn’t mean they’re boring. These nail polish colours are just as cool as your funky brights. They just happen to make your outfit look like it cost twice as much. Keep scrolling for the unique blues, greens, neutrals and more that will instantly upgrade any outfit.
Ah, the unexpected sophistication of a muted orange shade. Somehow this quasi-neutral hue winds up working with any outfit—and elevating it.
Slime green is the trendier version of this subtler, more elegant shade, which is sort of a cross between a muted, grey-toned sage and a fresh, nature-inspired moss.
Not quite pink, not quite red: Just like raspberry is more sophisticated a flavour than strawberry or cherry, it’s also more sophisticated a nail colour. Pair this with an all-beige outfit to look extra chic.
Where nail polish is concerned, true jet-black leans gothic, but navies, purples and greens so dark they’re almost black suddenly look terribly expensive.
Similarly, bright, printer-paper white reads a little basic, but linen, coconut and lace shades are classic in a much better way. They also work on literally every skin tone year-round.
Here’s something a little more playful: The gradient nail trend is happening right now, but if you want to keep it chic rather than trendy, go for a palette of neutrals in lieu of neons and brights. Painting a different taupe, brown or light pink on each nail is a way to have a bit of fun while still giving off undeniable rich-girl vibes.
Wine-coloured nails will never, ever get old. There’s something about the rich, deep red tone that instantly hoists your ensemble up the elegance scale. The outfit above would no doubt look a little younger and trendier with bright-yellow or turquoise nails, but Bordeaux makes it look expensive.
Baby blue looks Easter egg–esque, and vibrant teal can get garish. These are vibes we love every now and again, for sure, but if you’re going for an expensive aesthetic, a muted stone blue with lots of gray undertones is the move. Even jeans and a T-shirt look classier accented by this dignified shade.
Wearing just a glittery topcoat, with no foundational colour underneath, creates the impression of high-end crystal nail art. You can also apply nail glitter on top of a clear base coat for an even sparklier result.
Next up, the 20 best-selling Essie nail colours of all time—that you can still buy.