Vintage Nails

I’m really into vintage and pinup style, but that includes more than just the clothes. So today I’m going to take a break from fashion to talk about vintage nails and the basics of how to achieve them.
I’ve had pointy nails since I was 17. It all started when I got a crack down one side of my thumb nail, so I clipped off that side so the crack wouldn’t spread, and then evened out the other side by doing the same. This resulted in a hell of a point, and I actually liked it enough to start doing it on all my nails.
These days it’s a little different. My nails vary in length depending on my mood and are a bit rounded at the sides to soften the look. I’ve also been getting gel nails for some time now, because they’re way too soft to hold up on their own. Some of the girls at the salon love doing my nails because my unusual shape is a change of pace, and a challenge. Though these days I file them myself because I’m very particular and there just isn’t enough time to get them just right when they have other appointments to get to. The first time I got them done everyone wanted to see, since I was the first girl they’d ever met to actually get them done that way since they were taught how in beauty school. IMHO, my nails look fabulous. I seriously prefer them to modern squared off nails, which Mike and I refer to as “porn nails”, since we’ve noticed every porn star with them. Don’t bother asking how we’ve noticed that.

The long version, for a more fabulous look.

Phones take shitty ass pictures.

The shape is also great for accentuating long fingers, as opposed to the squares that can make them look stumpy.
A very long time ago, I remember watching old Disney movies like Sleeping Beauty and noticing that the women’s nails were all very tapered and even pointy. I guess I just thought it was an animation thing done to make their fingers appear longer and more elegant, but then the other night I was going through a vintage message board when I saw a post about nails. I got to see advertisements and makeup guides from the 1930s, and to my surprise, the women had tapered and pointed nails! I even read that for a short period black nail polish was in style, so it seems to me that vintage nails are gothic nails, and I’ve had vintage nails (minus the black polish) without even knowing it for the last seven years. Very cool.


How do you do a pointed or tapered nail shape? First thing, be aware that this is a shape that will weaken the nail, so unless they’re naturally rock hard, you should either keep them to a short-medium length (which to me is much longer than modern styles anyway), or get them done with gel. You will need a certain amount of length to get them to form a proper point, so have them a bit grown out first if you’re not getting the gel.
To make a deadly sharp point is pretty easy. Just file towards the middle of the nail, switching sides often to make sure that the point ends up right in the middle. When a girl at the salon rushes too much on my nails I often end up with them pointed to one side or the other and then I have to fix it, so it’s important to watch out for this.
To keep it more subtle and authentic like I do, the general shape is the same but will become altogether more rounded. The tip won’t be sharp, and the sides curve towards the middle. Push the file into a curve as you push it towards the tip of the nail instead of heading straight towards it. This method discourages filing your nails in a “see-saw” way, which is really bad for weakening your nails anyway.


If you want vintage color, the standard reds and pinks were in style, but also blue, green, silver, and lots of other colors according to what dress was worn. I would suggest that if you have longer and sharper nails you balance it out by using a more subtle color, lest you risk looking like a witch on Halloween. Usually the whole nail wouldn’t be painted; the lunula (white part near the cuticle) was left unpainted or painted white, as well as the tip, almost like a French manicure. Later on, the tip was painted. To paint your nails leaving the lunula, sticking one of those circular little hole re-enforcers for loose leaf just past the cuticle works well. If you want to have that part white or another pale color, do the whole nail that color first, and then once it’s dry go over it again in your second color using the re-enforcer.


You can of course put your own spin on all this. I’d love to see pics of your nails in the comments!

Update: I went and got my nails redone a couple weeks ago after a long hiatus of being first broke and then lazy. I was told that I was ahead of my time (I had thought I was way behind?) and since I stopped going they became super trendy, by way of Lady Gaga, Rihanna and the like. But now they’re all blingy and neon and weird. A little tacky to me, but it looks like this trend in its original 1930s form will be coming back as a great way to do this in a more mild and every day way. I wonder how many girls following this trend know how long ago it actually started. There is nothing new under the sun.

Is this really what we’ve come to as a society?