In Defense of Orange Nails


It was not so long ago that a wise woman declared, “Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed”:

Well, Elle Woods, I may not be as cool with pink as you are, but I can see where you’re coming from: pink is pretty. It’s cute. It’s easy. Everyone likes pink—if you say you don’t, you’re either lying, or you’re unhappy (believe whichever label you’d like). At the same time, pink can be a little too...too for some of us, even down here at the Gloffice, essentially a girly-girl’s dream space (well, I suppose that was the Malibu Barbie Beach House, but still). Nevertheless, Elle, I feel as though you may have undersold orange. Sure, it may not go with too many other colors—I’ve had an orange shirt I love for two years and haven’t worn it once because I can’t figure out what to wear it with; all pants/skirts/shorts/etc. look dumb. If we pair orange with black or green, it begins to look to Halloween-esque. Blue jeans always looks just slightly off. My mother insists that white pants are the way to go, but I always feel too country club-ready in that ensemble. But I digress. My point is that orange is hard, but not, I believe, impossible. What if—just hear me out—we do pink and orange together? It just might work. Well, I hope so because that’s what I tried on my fingers this week.

It’s been fairly well documented on this site that I have an affinity for mismatching manicures, some more pleasing to a traditionalist's eye than others. And while my current orange/pink collection may have five different shades on display, it is not as out there as it could be. Though I say "Go for it!" if you want your nails to look totally insane, a suggestion that may help tame your multicolored talons: Stick to one color family (e.g., warm tones, neutrals, blues/greens, etc). Plus, ombré is the word of the season (all seasons?), and you know what's easier than ombré-ing each individual nail? Ombré-ing your hand. And who knows, you may just find your new favorite color for a single-hue ‘cure in there.

Personally, I’m digging my thumb and middle fingers the most. I’ve found that Model Co’s Coral You Later makes for a snazzy something extra if you find yourself needing to flip the bird. As for my thumb, red polishes have always tended to make my fingers look a bit like little sausages, but the slight burnt orange of O.P.I.’s My Paprika Is Hotter Than Yours! keeps my digit strictly vegetarian. I think I may have found a red suited for all ten digits. Anywho, I’m thinking this color story makes my nails look pretty bitchin’; they look fresh and kind of beachy. So, I’ve decided to start dressing for spring regardless of the forecast. My nails are leading the way.

Any favorite oranges (or tangerines, or clementines, or kumquats) out there? I'm on a roll...

—Elizabeth Brockway

Photos by Elizabeth Brockway. Nail polishes (from thumb to pinkie): O.P.I.'s My Paprika Is Hotter Than Yours!, Dior's Délice (433), Model Co's Coral You Later, Dior's Spring Ball (343), Estée Lauder's Coral Cult.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • mlle p

    I like Revlon's Chili, which is an orangey-red that looks good especially on toes. I think orange in clothing works if paired with gray or maroon colors. It sort of takes the "hey, it's ORANGE!" out of it a bit.

  • Angela L

    Last summer I bought an orange/pink/pastel type color by Essie. It's called "a crewed interest". This color works well with most everything, and who doesn't love a great Essie color?!

    • MissWix

      I LOVE that color! I have proof! ;)

  • Christina Uticone

    Chanel Orange Fizz--super pretty for summer.

  • Alex

    OPI- My paprika is hotter than yours- new in spring collection EuroCentrale is a gorgeous orangey-red colour. It will suit people with a yellow/olive undertone beautifully. I think half the battle with wearing orange is finding a shade that complements the natural undertones of your skin.

  • Lucy Apted

    This post has made my day! And yes the middle finger shade is bitchin xxx

  • Guest

    I love nail polish and say wear whatever you like, whenever you like. I'm currently wearing SHCSM in "Firey Island." That's orange to the 10th power, for the uninitiated. And I love it! If no one else does, that's not my problem. I'm going to steal your multi-orange manicure idea. It's gorgeous. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • sara saljoughi

    my favourites are tart deco (essie), osaka-to-me (OPI), and y'all come back ya hear? (OPI).

  • Dress To Cook

    You should have called this post into the shades (Just came to me when I saw the photo). Love it :)

    Dress To Cook Blog

  • Nomadic D.

    Orange and pink? YES!

    Orange nails? Double yes!

    As you can see, I'm with you 100% on this one.

  • Lana Nasser

    I. adore. this. !!!

  • Bonnie Clyde

    Love the colors!!

  • Raphaëlle Lavielle

    What's wrong with orange? It's summery, fresh and cheerful.

  • Jessie Basu

    I just love this orange shade. it's awesome, i wanna give it a try.

  • Jessie Basu

    I also love this blog like yours -

  • Lesley O.

    Love the defence of the orange nail... I have been rocking it a ton as of late!

    A new outfit post and photo diary from World MasterCard Fashion Week is up on Local & Opulent

  • Em

    Opi - " a good mandarin is hard to find" everyday

  • DNA (designers+artists)

    I think it's a great color especially with olive skin.

  • Nina

    Chanel "Miami Peach" has been my favorite summer color since 2007. It's super pretty!

  • Fashions Your Way

    Love that nail polish doesn't have to be the same color on every single nail!

  • seilens

    My toe polish is currently a coral orange from Julep (it was in last month's pastel It Girl box from their Maven sub program - I can't remember its actual name). And yesterday at CVS I picked up a cheap Revlon orange lippy just to try it out, and weirdly it looks pretty awesome on (I guess I happened to pick a shade that matches the undertones in my skin well enough) and with the neon green/pink mani I'm sporting right now I'm feeling pretty ready for spring and summer.

  • Shawn B

    Best orange polish EVER Clam Bake by Essie. Gorgeous

  • Elsa

    I am partial to OPI's "A Roll in the Hague" and Essie's "Fear or Desire"