What Kind of Nails are Considered “Work Appropriate?”

Having beautifully colored nails help give women the kind of confidence that is needed to survive in a competitive work environment. But no, we don’t recommend tiger stripes Nail Art just so you can show your workmates how fierce you are. There are office-appropriate nails and I’m afraid any animal print design won’t fit the bill.

Now, unless your office has sent out a memo regarding how you should keep your nails, it is up to you to define what “work-appropriate” nails mean. Determining whether to use light or dark nail polish, or whether to keep them straight or round is very much a “know your office” thing.


For the Conservative Work Place:

Some conservative work places might not even allow nail polish but if they do, it is advisable to stick with soft or light colors. Neutral ones would work best: Try clear pink, beige or nude.


For the Flexible Workplace:

A flexible workplace may allow you accessorize and be a bit more creative with your office attire, meaning you might be able to get away with bolder shades of nail polish. Just don’t get too crazy with bedazzles and Nail Art. Office folk might not be too accepting of that yet.

White nail polish make your hands look clean and are definitely office worthy. Almost all shades of red are considered classy, light purple and light orange could be acceptable, but bright orange and yellow would be considered tacky. Black may be a good color for your office suit and dresses but it’s a different thing when they’re on your nails. The goth vibe doesn’t really go in an office setting. A few shades lighter and it would be ok. Grey would blend really well with the office environment.


For the Expressive Workplace:

A lot of start-up and creative companies fall under this category. Since a lot of the management and workforce consist of young individuals, they encourage employees to express their ingenuity and personal style. So, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your work—you can style your nails as bright and attention-grabbing as you want them to be. 

Whether you work in a conservative or an expressive office, the most important thing to remember so you can keep your nails appropriate for work is to shape them nicely. It won’t matter if they are round, pointy, or square as long as they are well-maintained, with equal lengths, it should be ok.

Things to remember so you don’t worry about not having work-appropriate nails:

  • Keep your nails neatly filed. Make sure they are short enough that you don’t hear them when you’re typing.
  • Neutral colors are always safe. Beige, clear pink, and nude are the safest choices.
  • If you really want to express yourself through some Nail Art, step away from busy designs. Use soft colors and keep your nails short.
  • Need more colors than neutral tone? Keep them classy. Plain colors like red, brown, and pink are considered traditional and appropriate for the office.