Red is the ultimate statement in glamour -- as it has been for generations. “It’s the most seductive of all colors,” says Leatrice Eiseman, color expert and executive director of Pantone Color Institute. “We were going into a period when other colors started turning up in nail polish, and everyone wanted to try them, but a return to red means a certain nostalgia factor, in a traditional way.” In other words, this is a person who’s tried the other colors, and knows what's sexy for her.
Forget any tranquil blues that might pop to mind -- this season’s take on the color is electric. “It’s in a class by itself. It’s very charged, it’s attention-getting and very hot -- the hottest flames burn blue,” points out Eiseman. “A person who would choose that, [wants] to be unique and different; it’s a departure from the norm. It’s fun and experimental.”
Deep and dark, like the wine for which it’s named, this color packs the powerful combination of classic red and trendy purple. “Burgundy is an elegant shade of red, one of the most elegant colors you can think of,” says Eiseman. “It has a huge degree of sophistication to it. Someone who thinks of themselves as sophisticated leans towards this color; it’s very haute couture.”
This futuristic two-tone look won’t help you tap out messages on your smartphone any faster, but it does indicate a person who’s very engaged with technology. “I point to the nail polish industry in defining metallic tones like these, and many of those were inspired by the technology used to paint cars,” Eiseman says. Your manicure suggests that you’re likely to keep ahead of those curves.
These very dark shades of gray read almost black in the bottle, but on your nail, they hold their own as part of your look. “It’s a very strong neutral -- it takes on the same connotation as black, which is the strongest and most stable color,” says Eiseman. “We talk about it as a color but it’s almost a psychological presence. It’s the ultimate in sophistication and high fashion, in order to make a statement.”
Get it now: Topshop Nails in Lead at Topshop stores; OPI in Nein Nein OK Fine, opi.com for salons; Maybelline Color Show in Carbon Frost at maybelline.com
This neutral-but-not color embodies an exciting contradiction. “Metallics now have almost attained classic status, but it doesn’t stay still, it keeps your eye moving -- it’s challenging.” Eiseman notes that historically metallics have come and gone in fashion, but for the last five or six years there’s always been at least one that’s hot. “Once people discover that glitz, they really become addicted to it,” she says.
Neutral colors, unsurprisingly, are the most unchanging, but this season’s take on nude is a gray-toned beige that’s natural and flattering on many skin tones. “Someone that would choose that color likes the idea of something dependable, always there. It’s a solid color that lasts,” she says.
Get it now: Essie in Yogaga at essie.com; Sephora by OPI in Thyme for a Mani at sephora.com; OPI in Berlin There, Done That, opi.com for salons
“Green is a very complementary color to lots of other colors (think of flowers and their stems) and I think people have discovered that you can use it in various ways and you don’t have to change your color all the time,” says Eiseman. While it doesn’t shout like a brighter shade, it’s a strong color and has a lot of power.
Get it now: Zoya in Ray at zoya.com; Maybelline Color Show in Go Go Green at maybelline.com; Topshop Nails in Queen of Green at Topshop stores.
Eiseman notes that Pantone’s color of the year will have staying power. “Color doesn’t just fall off the end of the earth at the end of the year; it’s a trendy color that will last through the fall,” she says. “Once people get accustomed to orange and they play with it, they really enjoy it.” Just like yellow, it’s high-visibility and playful, but it can also be very exotic, recalling the tropics with certain shades.
After a trend of shades as bright and summery as fresh watermelon, this season’s pinks are ready to grow up, but still stay sweet. “These mauve-y pinks are more mature; they have a bit of a gray undertone,” explains Eiseman. “This gives them an almost vintage feeling.”
“Yellow in general is associated with sun and warmth; it’s so visible that you can’t ignore it,” says Eiseman. Nor would you want to, particularly in the season’s signature shade, a very bright canary yellow. “If you use it on your nails, that’s a real statement. It’s very extroverted and happy,” she says.
“Purple and its variations are generally thought of as the most creative of all colors -- it’s complex, a combination of blue and red,” Eiseman says. “Most blues are tranquil and most reds are very dynamic, and when you put those together you have conflicting forces, a unique tension. Usually creative people are very drawn to purple; they love the unique energy of it -- they don’t want something simple.”