Due to various lockdowns we weren’t able to fully embrace autumn and winter nails in 2020, so this year we’re diving in headfirst and can barely wait to adorn our nails in moody wine hues, autumnal jewel tones and sultry darker shades.
“While I love the bright and optimistic summer shades, this year it feels new and exciting to switch to autumn and winter tones,” says Roxanne Campbell, nail tech and founder of at-home manicure service Revarnish. “It’s been too long since we’ve seen those polished, rich autumnal tones.”
These are the top nail trends for A/W 2021
Summer to autumn transition nails: The Micro-French
Nails always take a turn towards the dark side as the temperatures cool but if you’re not ready to go for fully dark nails yet, opt for the micro-French; painting just the tiniest tip, or an ultra-fine line around all of your nail, in a new season hue.
“The go-to colours for the micro-French will be rich and dark,” says London nail destination Townhouse’s founder and creative director Juanita Huber-Millet. “Think elevated burgundies, natural woodland hues and rich brown tones.”
Once you’ve rocked the micro-French for a few weeks, graduate onto the deep-French. It’s not a saucy as it sounds… This look extends the tip of the French manicure two-thirds of the way down the nail, where an oval shape of natural nail is left nude. This is a fun take on the classic look, plus it’s great for hiding regrowth if you’re not the best at maintenance appointments.
The *other* new French mani: Cuff nails
Sometimes known as reverse French, this is where your French tip is painted along the base of your nail instead, following your cuticle. This look is ideal if you’re not keen on French manis, but like a bit of colour on your fingertips. If a full slice of colour isn’t for you, opt for dots along the cuticle line.
We’ve seen this paired with deep French in both contrasting and matching shades, as well as curving all around the nails. Speaking of contrasting shades…
The new pastel gradient: Mix and match shades
This summer you can’t scroll Instagram without seeing a nail selfie of alternating pastel shades (you know the ones, one baby pink nail, one mint green, one sky blue). We’ll see the alternating nail trend continue on into A/W, says polish brand Mavala’s nail expert Lynn Gray.
"This is great for those times when you can’t choose just one autumnal shade. Instead, why not have a different colour on each nail? From pumpkin orange to glittery gold, this fun manicure means you can mash up all your favourite shades at once.”
The new nude: neutral negative space
Nudes never go out of style, but if you’re after something a little more adventurous go for neutral nude negative space. If you’re new to nail art it will ease you in and adds instant chic points to any autumn ensemble. “Abstract nail designs are the most popular at the moment, with different tones of the same colours,’ says London's eco nail salon Snail and Hare.
The throwback look: retro-inspired nails
70s style clothes are everywhere in the fashion world right now and this is spilling over into nails, with 70s inspired talons. Swirls and waves in burnt oranges, mustard yellows, olive greens and royal blues will be the nail art of choice for the fashion-forward among us. With intricate waves of colour you can choose a palette that reflects the season and wear the trend well into winter, swapping for reds and greens when the festive feels kick in.
The subtle nail art: Mixed finishes
“Matte finish nails have come and gone over the years but this season, it’s time to mix it up!” says CND education ambassador Victoria Trafford. "Nail designs with a mix of both matte and shiny topcoats gives a whole new dimension to the overall look.”
“This style was demonstrated beautifully in Prabal Gurung’s AW21 collection (when Kiss Nails were used) where we saw models sporting a stunning French tip and cuff which featured a high shine finish, leaving the middle of the nail matte. It’s a great way to switch up your French designs and add another level to your nail art,” Victoria adds.
Townhouse's Juanita says this trend is part of the lean towards 'barely there' nail art trend. "Expect to see subtle nail art paired with more autumnal looks such animal prints and leaves," she says. "It’s a great way to try nail art while keeping a professional look.
MORE GLOSS: Why a cuticle oil is essential for healthy nails