Let’s face it: we’re not kids anymore. I know, I know – in this day and age, it can often seem like we’re nowhere near being anything close to adults. Blame it on the recession and lack of jobs, the trend of young 20-somethings moving home after college, the delayed age at which people are getting married and starting families, or Zooey Deschanel, but it’s become the norm for young women our age to act and position ourselves in a stretched idea of adolescence. Before I get any backlash, let me be the first one to say that I absolutely adore Zooey Deschanel. I would also be lying if I said my sense of style on at least one occasion in the past six months (ok, weeks…ok, days) wasn’t influenced by her. But it’s pretty obvious that what her sense of style isn’t is completely grown up and sophisticated.
Overall, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Her style is something that’s become the norm with fashion in our society, specifically among our age group, and it is infused with a bit of youth which is great. But here’s the thing: how do we dress and act young, cute (dare I say adorkable? Sorry, sorry, already take it back), while still looking our age and getting everyone else to take us seriously? This subject could take me hours and multiple “click to go to next page” to fully explain, so let me focus on just one thing: your nails. Yes, they’re small, but they go a long way. It’s also one of the easiest areas to get creative, have fun, and incorporate trends without going overboard. But listen: sophisticated, adult women do not have green nails. Nor do they have special patterns and designs on them. Just 10 years ago, these trends were reserved for the high school set, and yet now it seems that women into their 30’s are decorating their digits in crazy ways.
So what can you do? No, don’t ditch all your outrageous colors and nail art. But please, be mindful.
- Keep nails short and nicely filed. Long blue claws look tacky, short, well-maintained nails look cute.
- Invest in good polish. There’s no reason you need streaky, goopy, smudgy nails.
- If you don’t have a knack for polishing a nice nail, pay to get it done. You’re not in high school anymore, so even a classic red or taupe looks terrible when it doesn’t look professionally done. There’s no reason that post-college the cuticles and skin around your nails should have as much polish as the nail itself.
- Match your fingers to your toes. This one is debatable, but I am of the opinion that if both your fingers and toes are purple, it looks much better than if your fingers are purple and your toes are orange. Just sayin’.
- When it comes to nail art and sparkly glitter polishes, again, there’s no need to hold back. Please, be creative. But again, make sure it looks professionally done. If you can’t put on that nail art sticker yourself without it looking crooked or creased, or you can’t draw a polished design without it looking like amateur finger painting gone awry, get someone else to do it.
Moral of the story: don’t worry about acting your age and settling with a nice, tame pink or red (though in this day and age, a great red nail is seriously underrated). But realize that you’re not 15 anymore (which is a wonderful thing). So put a little more effort into making those nails look great, however you still want to dress them up a bit. People notice your nails all the time, especially when they stand out as much as we make them. From pointing out something in a document at work, to grabbing for the toothpaste and toilet paper in the drug store, to gaining the attention of the bartender at the bar, to simply scratching your cheek, your nails are always in the spotlight. As 20-somethings, don’t we often wish that people would take us seriously and treat us with an ounce of respect? Point nailed. (Alright, I’ll stop.)
After graduating from college in ’09, Allyson Barkan flew off to Greece to teach English Literature at a private high school and explore Greek and European culture for a year. Since returning stateside, she now works in Entertainment Public Relations in New York City. For travel advice, stray observations as a 20-something in the big city, and the occasional hilarious misadventure, follow Allyson atwww.allysonbarkan.com and on twitter at @aebarkan.