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9 Nail-Design Ideas for Conservative or Creative Work Environments

BY: Kelly MacDowell | Jun 29, 2016

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Maybe you work in a more corporate environment where a flashy manicure would be frowned upon. Or maybe you’re a creative professional whose nail designs can say a lot about, well, their creativity. Either way, you shouldn’t be deprived of great-looking nails.

We scoured some of our favorite nail artists’ Instagram pages to find both conservative and creative styles to help give you fun nail design ideas for your next manicure, whether you’re visiting a nail salon or doing your nails at home.

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French twist

French Twist mani pngManicure image by M.P. Nails, New York

We could see this pink-and-black riff on a traditional french-tip nail design working somewhere sophisticated yet stylish, like five-star hotels or high-end retailers.

Making waves

Optical Illusion mani pngManicure image by Jin Soon Choi, New York

By choosing ultra-pale colors, this two-tone wave effect is so subtle your farsighted boss probably won’t even notice it.

Dotting your Is

Dotting I s mani pngManicure image by Miss Pop Nails, New York

For the pro who prizes elegance—a wedding planner, perhaps?—may we suggest this minimalist nail design? The dots are subtle, yet striking, and the bride will appreciate your attention to detail.

Mixed media

Mixed Media mani pngManicure image by Miss Pop Nails, New York

Layering matte and shiny polishes is way more fun than, well, not layering. But the effect is still faint enough to fly under the radar in a more reserved workplace.

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Picking flowers

Florist mani pngManicure image by M.P. Nails, New York

Florists could try a manicure inspired by this beautiful botanical pattern. Capped off by rose-red tips, it makes for the good kind of taking your work home with you.

Playing around

Teacher mani pngManicure image by Jin Soon Choi, New York

Spend your days wrangling little ones in a classroom or at a daycare? That whole clap-once-to-get-their-attention thing will work a lot better when the kids can ooh and aah over the playful, colorful nail art on your hands.

Architectural details

Architect mani pngManicure image by Astrowifey, Chicago

Frank Lloyd Wright’s colorful, geometric style translates perfectly to nail art for a budding architect. No one will be able to focus on the blueprints once they see your masterfully painted digits clutching the T-square. (Is that even how architects architect?)

Works of art

Museum mani pngManicure image by Fleury Rose Nails, New York

Whether you’re a volunteer docent or head curator, if you spend your days at an art museum you won’t have to look far for nail-art so beautiful it’s been in a museum. London artist Maria-Ines Gul inspired this manicure, but the work of Lichtenstein, Pollock, or Rothko would be equally worthy source material.


Photographer mani pngManicure image by Fleury Rose Nails, New York

No photographer lugs their portfolio around everywhere they go. But thanks to this technique of rendering photos onto nail stickers, you can always have your best work literally on hand.

Want to try your hand at even more nail art? Read on:

Astrowifey banner jpegManicures So Good, They Were in a Museum

Chicago-based artist Ashley "Astrowifey" Crowe ended up in the Museum of Contemporary Art—but only after she started using her painting talents to create nail art.

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Five Nail Art Ideas You Need to Try

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