Beauty

9 Ways To Upgrade Your 2000s-Style French Manicure

Modern takes on the OG form of nail art.

Here's how to upgrade your 2000s-style French manicure.
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The French manicure is probably the first form of nail art. It was either that half moon-white tip or a solid color polish, and that was it. The OG design has gone through various cycles of popularity — including its heyday in the early 2000s when it was paired with a square tip — but in 2021, a burst of artsy, colorful life is being breathed into a new generation of French manicure styles.

The design was reportedly created in 1975 by Jeff Pink, the President and CEO of nail polish brand Orly. It has been 45(ish) years since, but the nail trend has withstood the test of time. After being worn on the tips of celebs like Paris Hilton and J.Lo during Y2K (with velour tracksuits, naturally), the French mani seems to be in a renaissance. If you need more evidence of its current comeback, start with celebrities like Selena Gomez and Gigi Hadid, who have recently sported modern versions of the manicure. A quick scroll through Instagram will also show you countless nail selfies debuting a fresh and vibrant take on the classic design.

If you have a steady hand and the right products (aka a super-thin nail art brush), you can try to DIY this trend at home. And if you don’t (same), nail salons are opening back up and this might be just the inspiration you need to settle on your next manicure.

Below are creative French manicure ideas for everyone, from the pastel-obsessed to the experimentation-shy and all the way down to the bold nail art connoisseurs. Take a peek and book a mani, stat.

A Different Perspective

This set of French-style nails trades the traditional symmetrical round tips for something off-kilter. The result is a chic way of adding an unexpected pop of colors to your nails.

A Combination Of Two Classics

Before there was an endless stream of art designs to pick from, a red nail was a bold and iconic way to decorate your fingertips. This take on the French mani combines the two looks in a surprising nouveau-traditional way.

Graphic Accent Nails

This graphic accent design is perfect for the minimalist. Keep your nails clean and buffed and opt for classic white and black shades on just a couple of tips to create a graphic modern take on the French manicure.

Maximalist Mix-n-Match

Can’t decide between colors and prints? Having just the tip of your nails done allows space for experimentation without being overwhelming. This specific set masterfully combines flames, checks, color blocking, and florals, so you can rock all the trends at once (whew).

Psychedelic Houndstooth Tips

This take on the French manicure is a melange of surprisingly complementary aesthetics. Houndstooth and neons are not a common pairing, but this modern spin on the nail style makes it seem like a no-brainer.

Neon Outlines

Play with just a pop of neon via a French mani design by simply outlining your tips with a vibrant shade without filling them in.

Not Your Grandmother’s Pearls

A strand of pearls and a French manicure are a tried and true combination. Moving the pearls onto your nails, however, is a genius way of innovating two elegant classics.

Classic (Rainbow) French Mani

Keep things simple and stick with the traditional French manicure but make it a vibrant rainbow cascading across your nail tips for a fresh upgrade to the look.

Art Deco Geometry

If you distill the essence of the Art Deco vibe of Radio City Music Hall into a manicure, this is what it would look like. It’s the perfect French mani for when you want to channel romance and nostalgia in a modern way.