50 New Ways to Wear a French Manicure

The Classic
If you’re loyal to the traditional French manicure, modernize your look by matching it to a white, cat eye.
Black Rainbows
Rainbows lend themselves well to a curved tip. Try this technicolor twist on the Frenchie, but paint them with a black base for a moodier look .
Black and White Graphics
Play off your white French tips with hyper-graphic details in black.
The French Line
The minimalist approach to the French manicure is the French line, where you trace along your nail bed in black. Honestly, it’s so easy.
Monochrome Split
A French tip, half-moon combo, this monochrome look is a mod design that will go with anything. Paint one color first and give it ample time to dry before applying your second lacquer.
Marble Tips
Marble nails are an ongoing trend. Why not try it this summer with French tips? We’re especially fond of this purple version, complimented by a full marble nail.
French Fishnets
French tips and fishnets go hand in hand style wise, so why not combine the two vampy choices into one? Start with a bare nail, then hand paint a grid or use a nail stencil to get the crosshatched design. Once dry, paint your tips white and finish with a clear base.
Understated Stripe
This look, worn by ELLE.com’s own beauty guru Julie Schott, is a subtle way to update the French manicure. After your white tips are dry, underline each with a stripe of nude and finish off the look with a clear topcoat.
Floral Decals
An easy addition to the French tip? Decals. After creating the traditional look, layer a thin coat of clear top coat. While tacky, gingerly set your design and press down. Finish with a topcoat to secure.
Mondrian Outlines
Focus on this manicure’s ring finger. The white tip is lined in black for a graphic, Mondrian-esque design.
Oil Spill Tips
Take the oil spill nail trend to another level by applying the foil just at your tips, leaving the rest of your nail bare.
For this checkerboard nail, start with a classic French tip. Once dry, apply black boxes to create the grid and finish with a clear topcoat.
Mint Fade
This nail artist combined a mint French tip with an ombre fade. No matter what colors you choose, always start with your lightest shade first and give yourself time for each coat to dry.
Double Lined
This minimal nail updates the French tip with the simple additional of a corresponding middle line. For that section, mimic the curve of your tip to get the cleanest look.
Freeform Details
For a quirkier French tip, freehand your design all over like this mash-up of grapefruits, watermelons, and ’80s motifs.
French Fade
Apply the concept of French manicure—white tips with a nude base—to the ongoing ombre trend. For best results, apply the two polishes on a makeup sponge and continuously dab onto the nail. Finish with a topcoat.
Micro Details
Bust out a thin brush to paint micro details to the base of your nail for a playful design. This back-to-school manicure by nail artist Kro Vargas features a yellow bus, a pencil, and a teeny tiny chalkboard.
Seeing Double or Triple
A traditional manicure includes only one line but you can force the design into 2018 by adding another line of design. Purple lines, pink lines, cheetah lines—the possibilities are endless.
The Upside Down
Who says a French manicure is just for your nail tips? Give your beds a little TLC by reversing the style and letting the design rest near your cuticles.
Blinged Out
Bling out your tips. Rhinestones or glitter will help you get your shine on in no time. Complete the look by taking some advice from Kanye and adding a grill.
Red Hot
White and soft pink are so last year. In 2018 it’s time to go crazy with colors and sparkles. Fire Engine red pairs nicely with a silver shimmer because if you’re going to go big why not go really big?
A Dash of Glam
If you want to be adventurous but no go crazy (like the nails above), add a bit of a glitter polish to the tips and leave the rest of the nail a classic pink.
Dipped in Design
Inspired by architectural designs, this particular nail includes both a French manicure and a small work of art to match.
Dressed Up
Add a bit of sparkle at the opposite end of the Frenchie to dress up the look.
Kylie Jenner’s Pearly Sheen

Since we were all distracted by Kylie Jenner outfit repeating at the 2018 VMAs, you probably missed her epic mani. She rocked an icy white coffin nail with a pearly iridescent coat – oh, and a fistful of diamonds, nbd.

The Hipster Dream

The monstera (Swiss Cheese) plant is a staple of any hipster abode, so why not take that flora onto your tips? You’ll probably need a professional for this intricate design but the colors jive together nicely, so it might not be terribly tough to try a less composed DIY version.

The Yellow Bandana

Reinvent a classic bandana motifin bright yellow.

The Camo Cutie

If you could see this nail design in the depths of the jungle, you’d definitely admire it.

The Cheetah Girl

Cheetah girls, cheetah sistas. Wear the print on your nails and start practicing your cat claw now.

The Pretty in Pastel

Pinks, blues, greens, and yellows in softer shades is a fresher take than straight neon. Add a sparkly adornment to catch some rays.

The Sunrise

Let the sun rise…on your nail beds. You won’t have to set your alarm early to enjoy the majesty of nature.

The Balance

We’re calling it now. Ying and yang never go out of style. (Well, even if they do the ’90s are back so…)

The Cool Edges

Cheekily called Just the Tip, this design has all the focus on shapes on your nail edges—be it round, square, squoval or Elvira-esque. Start with a clean white base, then top it off with any color combo you please.

The Hot Pink

Hot pink but spiral it! The standout color takes the classic French nail and flips it on its hot pink head.

The Nighttime Garden

Kenzo-inspired floral by downtown nail pro Naomi Yasuda.

The Graphic Design

When your nails match your MCM bag you are truly living your best life.

The Two-Way

Top two-tone nails with a matte topcoat for this modernist design.

The New French

Ada Yeung riffs on a French manicure with extra stripes and negative space.

The Graphic Design

Get playful with primaries. The black base makes red, blue and yellow look fresh to death.

The Tribe Tribute

Falcone pays homage to the late Phife Dowg with this Tribe Called Quest inspired design. On point Tip, indeed.

The Smile

These emoji mood nails are easy to recreate by using the head of a pencil dipped in yellow polish as a stamper.

The Blues

Torello offsets vibrant sea blue shades with airy negative space.

Color of the Year

Pantone named “Ultra Violet” the color of the year, so what better way to embrace it than with your manicure? Instead of sticking to a single shade of purple, take this two-color design as inspiration for your next look.

Wearable Art

Add some culture to your nails with this playful, artsy manicure. Start with a white base, then add detailed doodles for a Keith Haring-inspired look.

Negative Daisies

Try this easy negative nail design. Start by adding a single yellow dot to each nail. Once dry, use a thin brush to add white petals, and finish with a clear topcoat.

Dried Flowers

Look out for this nail trend: dried flowers embedded into gel nails. It’s not your typical at-home mani job, though, so search your local salons for a nail artist like Melbourne-based Clara H. to give you the ultimate springtime look.


Pair a few nudes together for the ultimate chic minimalist look. This design channels the evil eye, but with these relaxed hues it’s more of moody side-eye.


Add an extra oomph to your nails with a gem or jewel. Paint the base coat a millennial pink and top with heart appliqués in the center for an easy but playful design.

One in a Million

A white nail adds a pop of brightness and is further complemented by silver foils in graphic shapes. Stand out this spring!

Updated Frenchie

Go for a retro classic with a twist. Instead of using classic white polish for a French tip, spice things up and grab glitter or even a bold color to the top of your nails. You can have fun and experiment with different base nail tones and tip colors or really go the extra mile by replicating this nude base nail color and silver glitter finish.

Versace, Versace, Versace

A decadent look that channels your inner ‘90s supermodel. Use pastel metallics for the base and a neon tangerine for the Versace lettering. The only thing left to do is decide if you’re a Cindy, Naomi, Claudia, Carla, or Helena.

Bright & Bold

Bold colors side-by-side will brighten any day and hand. Grab a funky yellow like this one from Christian Louboutin and pair it with something like a hot pinkfrom Marc Jacobs for the ultimate beach day nail design.

Barely There

Spring cleaning calls for minimal nails, but that doesn’t mean you have to go completely bare. Try this clean look by painting nude half moons to match your natural color, then finish with a clear topcoat.