A-Z of a vintage girl · Vintage beauty · vintage style

N is for (Vintage) Nails: The A-Z of a Vintage Girl in a Modern World

Happy Sunday, one and all!

Today, as we’ve reached ‘N’ in my alphabet, I thought I’d talk about vintage nails (although the character The Boy came up with while I was brainstorming topics, Nellie Nimbleson, sounded pretty darn interesting, so I may revisit her at a later date. Her favourite band is Nine Inch Nails, she loves Nando’s, and she’s ninety).

For years, I wanted square nails, with rounded tips, and as my own nails are in a pretty poor state, I used to get acrylics done every couple of weeks. Which, as you can imagine, put them in an even poorer state.  Then one night, when I was heading to work (I was a receptionist and was on my two weeks of nights) and trapped my nail in the car door. After hopping around like a cartoon character in pain, and wrapping my very poorly finger in a lot of bandages, I swore never again.

Nowadays, I sport an oval shaped nail (when they’re behaving themselves and growing nicely, that is), which just so happens to have been the fashionable nail shape back in the day.  Coincidentally, I have a very talented nail technician friend who has been telling me for years that oval is the best shape to help my nails grow. So now she can stop wanting to kick me every time I ignore her advice.

She actually did my nails for my wedding, which had been growing really well – I was taking supplements, eating all my fruit and veg, putting lots of chemicals that promised me lots and delivered me lies – all the usual stuff you do before a wedding. However, I then had to pack 100 sets of afternoon tea crockery into boxes, and they disintegrated. But she still did a fantastic job, thereby demonstrating her talent:


Usually, in keeping with the era, I sport red nails (to match my lipstick, of course), and have been experimenting with lots of different brands. Pastels – think pink and coral – were also fashionable nail colours in the 1950s, and although I have a couple of pots of each, I keep getting drawn to different shades of red. At the moment, I’m loving Barry M Gelly Hi Shine which seems to last really well, and Rimmel’s new Super Gel, which lasts well as long as I don’t do anything strenuous (washing up, cleaning the bathrooms, generally picking up after myself), but I think that might be down to my excessively slathering on the top coat.

Ask someone about vintage nails, and if they don’t talk about red nail varnish, they may very well talk about the half-moon manicure, which is a look I adore. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to do it on myself yet (I end up either with rather wonky, pink looking moons, or with a whole strip of nail polish missing where I’ve peeled off the separator too soon), so this photo is from The Beauty Ramp, which also has some cracking advice on how to get the look. For more information on the history of the manicure, I’d suggest checking out Queens of Vintage.


Unfortunately my nails are a bit too short at the moment, so I’m left with a bit of a dilemma. Do I keep eating my 5-a-day and taking supplements, hoping for the best, or do I bite the bullet and go back for another round of acrylics? Miss Victory Violet (who has the most amazing nails. And hair) has some good advice on dealing with acrylics, so maybe I should revisit, and just steer clear of car doors. I’ll keep you posted.

And just for fun, here are some of my favourite vintage nail varnish adverts:

See you all next week, when we’ll reach the letter ‘O’ in my alphabet of being a vintage girl in a modern world. Ooo, I wonder what it could be!


One thought on “N is for (Vintage) Nails: The A-Z of a Vintage Girl in a Modern World

  1. I swear by shellac. I had less nails than you and now theyre a good way past the end of my fingers!
    They’re good for your nails because they have micropores to let air reach the nail, give the nail strength and support while they grow and the person doing them can do the half moon for you!
    Only problem is when people remove them incorrectly as it’ll damage the nail…


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