Today I’m going to teach you guys how to do the perfect flapper nails! You know, that elegant vintage nail look often sported in the 1920s-early 1930s and seen on actresses like Jean Harlow and Joan Crawford:
As you can see, only the center of the fingernail was painted. The half-moons and the tips were left bare.
Things didn’t change until (legend has it) Carole Lombard began to paint her full nails, something that was seen as quite shocking in the world of fashion and beauty. However, the trend caught on like wildfire, and women haven’t reverted back to only painting half of our nails ever since!
But if you’re a vintage-obsessed nerd like me, you have a fondness for these old trends and love bringing them back. I’ve taught myself how to recreate the flapper nail look. My lovely, cooperative new boyfriend took pictures of me modeling my nails. They may look a little weird, but hey, the focus is on the fingers, not the face (or in this case, half the face) here! I hope the nails are easy to see in these photos (UPDATE: you can click the pictures if you need to see the nails better!):
It just occurred to me that I probably should’ve taken pictures of each step of this nail look…oy. I’m going to try describing each step as best I can, but if those of you who are trying to achieve this look need a picture for any step, let me know and I can redo this post with pictures!
What You’ll Need:
Top Coat and Base Coat (I use OPI Start to Finish Base & Top Coat, two in one, less hassle!)
Red Nail Polish (I use OPI’s “The Thrill of Brazil”)
How to Do It:
1. Start off with clean nails. (duh) Make sure they are long, but not too long. Just a little over your fingertips (like the way my nails look).
2. Give your nails that pointed look those flappers and 1930s dames had. Use the nail clipper to trim off A LITTLE BIT of the sides OF THE GROWTH (the part that is a little over your fingertips) ONLY. If you go any deeper, you will clip off the part of your nail that is attached to your finger, and trust me, it hurts. Like. A. Bitch.
3. After that, file the sides of your nails so they can look clean and pointed.
4. Now, take your base coat and paint one coat on each nail. They will look clear and shiny. Wait for them to dry (this depends on the type of base coat you have. Mine dries almost instantaneously, so I only wait a minute or so.)
5. Now, take your red nail polish and VERY SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY paint a thin arc right over your half-moon and another right under your growth. Now, you should have bare tips, a stripe of red, a bare nail, another red stripe, and a bare half-moon.
6. Now fill in the space between the two red stripes with red nail polish. Do this for all your nails!
7. Wait for your nails to dry. Then repeat steps five and six for a second coat (yes, a second coat is necessary, because it will give you the true color you are hoping to achieve).
8. Wait for your nails to dry again (completely!!! It’s most important at this time).
9. At this point, you might have some mess or stray nail polish around your fingers. My tip to cleaning messy nail polish (and this can go for any look, not just flapper nails) is to dip a cotton swab into a bottle of acetone and use it to clean around your nails. It’s thin enough to clean without removing the nail polish that is actually on your nails. Here, use this technique not only to clean any skin around your fingernails, but to also clean any nail polish that may have gotten onto your half-moons or tips. Many people complain that DYI nails are messy because they can’t paint the nails on their right hand with their left hand or vice versa. But with this tip, you can make as much mess as you need and you can clean it all up, resulting in salon-perfect nails!
10. After your nails have dried and you’ve cleaned any mess, paint on your top coat.
11. Voila! You now have shiny, red, glamorous, authentic-looking flapper nails!
**I’m not going to lie and say that doing this look on your own is easy. It might not come out 100% great the first time you try, but like with anything else, practice makes perfect. You might also find it easier to get someone else to help you or paint your nails for you. Do not be discouraged, since it is a difficult look! Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
P.S: Have you guys noticed the ring I’m wearing in my pictures? That’s the ring the incredibly handsome and talented actor Paul Zivkovich gave me in a one-on-one in my favorite play, Sleep No More. Sometimes the ring is on my finger, sometimes around my neck on a necklace, but I’m always wearing it! I’m quite devoted to this guy.