Coffin Nails, Stiletto Nails, & The Other 8 Nail Shapes You Should Definitely Know Before Your Next Mani

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Thinking of changing up your nail shape but don't know which direction to go? With so many options these days, it can be hard to choose the best nail shape. I've always been intrigued by the more elaborate shapes like almond or coffin nails. And if I were bold enough to try acrylic nails, I would be all over the aquarium nail trend (because who doesn't want glitter floating around on her fingers??). But alas, as a nearsighted writer, my concern with typing efficiently and inserting contact lenses has always led me to shy away from venturing outside my short, round-nailed comfort-zone. Maybe one day...

But if you can wield a nail-file like nobody's business or you have your nail technician on speed dial (or you're just plain curious; I'm not leaving anyone behind in this journey to nail-enlightenment), there are some nail shapes you should consider for your next manicure session. Whether you're ready for something new or just want to know what the heck duck feet nails look like, here are 8 nail shapes you need to know before booking your next mani appointment.

1. Round

Round nails are the most basic and easiest shape to achieve. Clipping and filing nails to the natural shape of the quick should result in a round shape.

2. Oval

Oval nails also have a rounded tip, but the shape is slightly more severe than round nails. Instead of the tip gently sloping into the sides of the nail, the angle is steeper without being a straight edge. This shape is a great look when getting gel extensions, which many find less harsh than acrylics.

3. Square

For square nails, the tip should be cut and filed straight across so that there are almost corners where the top edge meets the side edges. A classic mani look.

4. Squoval

Squoval nails combine the best of both square and oval nails. By rounding out the corners of a square shape, nails get the sophistication of square nails with the natural appeal of rounded or oval nails.

5. Almond

If oval nails are a little too tame, try an almond shape which has a tapered tip without being pointy.

6. Stiletto

If pointy is what you're going for though, try a stiletto nail. This nail shape tapers to an extreme tip that is equal parts edgy and fierce. Just be careful with this style, as it makes the nail more prone to breaking.

7. Coffin/Ballerina

If you're worried about poking your eye out or you want a slightly less fragile yet still extreme nail shape, try coffin or ballerina nails. This shape, which has two names, is basically like stiletto nails but with a squared-off tip to mimic the appearance of a coffin or pointe shoes.

8. Duck Feet

This shape, that can only be achieved through acrylics, is affectionately called duck feet nails. These flared-out nails, which are inspired by the appearance of webbing, are particularly useful for providing more surface area for nail art.

Ready to try something new with your tips? Well, you have a lot of options.

This post was originally published on Aug. 15, 2015. It was updated and republished on June 21, 2019. Additional reporting by Katie Dupere.

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