Decoder :: Mani-Pedi Polish Duos That Are Meant To Be

By Tara Thompson Rasmus
Mani Pedi Color Combos | Camille Styles

I don’t know about you, but by this point in the summer, my hands and feet are looking… less than pretty. After a summer spent tromping around New York City in sandals, getting assaulted by mosquitos every evening, and sadly living without professional mani-pedis, my hands and feet have certainly seen better days. So, when I finally do get around to treating my fingers and toes to some DIY TLC, I make sure to pick a standout nail polish combo that will distract from any less-than-smooth-skin and gnarly cuticles — but, I try to think beyond the classic pale pink/true red combo that I often turned to as a teenager. These days, try to think more in terms of complimentary or contrasting shades; color pairings that make both shades stand out, and manage to capture whatever mood I’m feeling at the moment. Click through to check out a few of my favorite end-of-summer polish combos, plus a few that will carry you straight through the beginning of fall.

Gray and Hydrangea Blue

It may be our instinct to reach for warm, bright colors when the temperature rises, but I tend to do the opposite. As a person who is often overheated (and cranky) in the hot, muggy summer months, I find myself reaching for cool, calming shades like blue and gray — just seeing them makes me feel less hot and bothered. This blue-tinged gray is one of my favorite nail shades of all time; the hit of baby blue keeps it from feeling, well, depressing. And this azure shade from Deborah Lippmann is the exact shade of blue hydrangeas — what could be more summery?

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics in Gryphon

Deborah Lippmann Nail Color in Blue Orchid

Hot Pink and Poppy Orange

If, unlike me, you tend to favor bright, festive shades all summer long, let me steer you towards this unexpected and totally chic combo. The raging fuchsia and juicy orange contrast with each other just enough to avoid a matchy-matchy mani, but the colors also work together perfectly (think of the blazing pink and oranges of a sunset).

Revlon Nail Enamel in Optimistic

Dolce and Gabbana The Nail Lacquer in Fire

Mauve and Plum

If you’re the type of woman who tends to do all neutrals, all the time (or skip polish altogether for a truly natural look), may I suggest a combo that’s only a slight departure from subtle beige? These two shades of violet-tinged lacquer are the ultimate in non-natural natural nails — they add just a bit of color to any look, but are subtle enough to work with any outfit.

FlossGloss Nail Lacquer in Dinge

Julep Color Treat in Gabrielle

Nude and Crimson

If you, like me, grew up thinking that the only non-matching mani-pedi combo that was acceptable was Essie Ballet Slippers paired with OPI’s I’m Not Really A Waitress on toes, this is the perfect update on that classic pairing of red and nude. Instead of a sheer pink, go for an opaque nude with nice hit of gray and pink. And, skip the cherry red for a deeper shade of crimson — NARS’ now-classic Jungle Red is a the right bet.

Jin Soon Nail Lacquer in Nostalgia

NARS Jungle Red

Seafoam and Cherry Red

One of my most stylish friends swears by this slightly out-of-the-box (but totally perfect) combination of mint green and bright rouge. In her words, the combination is a modern take on retro shades — but, she emphasizes that the red should go on fingers, and the sea foam on toes.

RGB Nail Lacquer in Dew

Essie Lollipop


White and Navy

White and navy are one of the most classic color combos in the book — but, when worn on nails and toes (instead of, you know, on a cable-knit sweater), these two shades look downright fresh. Your instinct might be to wear the white on nails and navy on toes, but I’d suggest the opposite for a totally new take on preppy style.

Mischo Nail Lacquer in Coco

MAC Nail Lacquer in Midnight Ocean

Metallic and Emerald

If you’re really looking to take a risk this fall, nail polish is an easier (and cheaper!) way to overhaul your look than buying a whole new wardrobe. To add some major edge to cool-weather ensembles, try a bold holographic metallic on nails, and a deep dark green on toes.

Tenoverten Nail Polish in Wall Street

Illamasqua in Rampage