We Mean Business: 3 Totally Work-Appropriate Nail Art Designs

by Charlene Flanagan

As a girl who loves her makeup, I can assure you that toning it down for work or keeping it clean to hit the gym is a constant struggle. I've found that sticking to demure lip balms and sophisticated nail art are the only ways to get my beauty kicks in both cases.

While I've nailed the art of stirring up the perfect lip concoctions at home (beets and berries all the way), I've struggled with finding nail art that doesn't blind everyone in the boardroom and helps keep up my 'means business' image.

Of all my experiments, there are three I think worked like a charm, and I'm going to show you how to pull them off.

From one makeup lover to another, let the madness begin!

Look 1: Basic Inverted French Manicure
Let's start off with something simple. All you need to do is pick a solid white and one other color of your choice. Personally, I love pastels and nudes because they're more work-appropriate. You want to keep it chic, but professional. I tried a burnt rose shade.

  • Simply paint your nails white; two coats should suffice.
  • Once the white base is dry, tape off the bottom and top of the nails. We suggest a slight curve at the bottom to add a feminine touch, but a triangle works well, too.
  • After taping off the areas, paint over the nail with the rose nail polish (or whichever shade you've chosen). Use two or three coats (or as necessary) to get the right color intensity to complement the white paint.
  • Once dry, remove the tape to reveal the inverted French manicure.

Look 2: Color Block Manicure
For those who have the privilege of working at a fashion magazine, retail store, advertising agency, PR firm, or the like, the dress code demands you fancy it up, which is why I think you can totally get away with a color block manicure. It looks edgy and is sure to catch the eye of many for all the right reasons. Now, the one I tried was all about the angles. Make sure you have a clean base before you start and choose two contrasting colors to paint your sassy canvas.

  • First, paint your entire nail with the lighter shade.
  • Then, decide the color blocking shape you want to go with—triangles, rectangles or a simple square. We recommend you use sticky tape to get clean lines.
  • Place the tape as you please—vertical lines right through, a triangle in the middle, a semi-circle at the bottom.
  • Fill the rest of your nail with the darker shade and let it dry. You can use two different colors to alternately fill in the blocks if you like.
  • Apply a top coat to seal the deal.

Look 3: Negative Spaces
It doesn’t necessarily have to be pink. The beauty of this look is that it will work with any color, but keep it subtle for work, we say.

  • Starting with your thumb, paint alternate nails completely. This will leave you with two nails that have no polish on them.
  • Then, simply place a strip of tape in the middle of the two unpainted nails. See that the strip is about 2mm in width. Place it in the middle of your nails.
  • Now paint over them.
  • Once the polish is dry, remove the tape to find pretty negative spaces in your index and ring finger nails.
  • Seal with a top coat.

For what it’s worth, nail art does take a little bit of practice to perfect, so don't be disheartened if your first few attempts don't look like these pictures. Try and keep a steady hand, or get a professional to do it. There’s no reason you can't dress up your nails for a day at the office, so go right ahead!

Images Via Instagram/#nailart

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