Nothing’s more fashion forward than a beauty statement. Nail polish is for all genders, and today’s hottest stars including A$AP Rocky, Harry Styles and BTS’s J-hope attest to this with the dynamic men’s nail polish styles they frequently exhibit.
It’s worth noting that varnish worn on men’s nails is hardly a brand new concept. In fact, manicures for men were commonplace in ancient times. In ancient Babylonia, most men wore nail polish, with darker colours denoting a higher social class. Similarly, in ancient Egypt, people of all classes and genders painted their nails, with red in this case representing higher social standing.
In more recent decades, men’s nail polish has been mostly associated with subcultures’ styles such as ‘70s and ‘80s glam rock (think David Bowie),‘90s alternative rock (picture Kurt Cobain’s chipped red nails) and Goth culture.
The difference now lies within men’s nail varnish becoming increasingly mainstream again, rather than countercultural. While these days men’s nail polish is less likely to make an overt statement about your identity, it doesn’t mean that the style of choice has lost all significance. See below for Vogue‘s various takes on wearing these directional manicures—from sparkly and shiny to tropicana and noir.
1 / 18
Rock and Rolla
If you enjoy basking in the limelight, this glamorous high-octane style is the one for you. How else can you get your inner rock star to shine if not with a good dose of sparkle on your fingertips?
Pictured, Machine Gun Kelly wears diamond-adorned nails at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards.
2 / 18
South Korean rapper Dawn wears a sparkly manicure.
3 / 18
Japanese actor and model Shuzo Ohira wears metallic nails outside the Louis Vuitton show during Paris Fashion Week – Menswear Spring/Summer 2023.
4 / 18
Draw inspiration for this charismatic manicure style from flamboyant musical icons including David Bowie and Prince.
5 / 18
Sephora Collection Color Hit Nail Polish (Limited Edition) in Firework, $8.50 at Sephora
6 / 18
Nails Inc. Beach Bottled Nail Polish in That Tan Life, $17 at Sephora
7 / 18
Crazy, quirky, cool. Elevate these ‘90s-inspired brights with nail stickers, embellishments and scene-stealing art that seek to express.
Seen here, ASAP Rocky wears an intricate eyeball design on his nails at Paris Fashion Week in 2019.
8 / 18
Harry Styles wears Nonna’s Sorbet and Wet Bottoms nail polishes from his own beauty brand, Pleasing.
9 / 18
Spotted at Lanvin’s SS22 show: GOT7’s Mark Tuan flaunting a velvet coat as well as an eye-grabbing set of nail art.
10 / 18
Heed inspiration from content creator César’s (@reignofcesar) colourful outfits by following suit—literally—with a bright manicure.
11 / 18
Chanel Le Vernis in 933 Cap Corail, $43 at Chanel
12 / 18
Les Mains Hermès in Vert Égyptien, $74 at Hermès
13 / 18
From nuanced noir nails to deep crimson tips, take a leaf out of the books of ‘designer’s designers’ like Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester and Yohji Yamamoto by channelling these dark, gothic designs.
14 / 18
BTS’s J-Hope sports a black manicure on the streets of Chicago.
15 / 18
Pete Davidson attends the 2021 Met Gala with a dashing noir manicure.
16 / 18
Follow the brooding lead of designers such as Rick Owens by leaning towards darker shades.
17 / 18
Boy de Chanel Le Vernis in 404 Black, $43 at Chanel
18 / 18
Christian Louboutin Beauty The Noirs Nail Colour in Sevillana, $80 at Tangs