Each week our no-holds-barred contributor Grace Gold picks apart a hot beauty topic. It’s our version of an op-ed—with hair, eyeliner and lipstick.
When the First Lady took to the podium at the Democratic National Convention last week, more than her brilliantly delivered speech commanded attention. Michelle Obama addressed her audience with waves of her hands that showed off a glossy steel manicure that made nail lovers’ hearts flutter nationwide.
The shade was confirmed by the White House (hey, makeup is official business!) as Artistic Nail Design in Vogue, an iridescent gray-lilac soak-off gel nail polish that requires curing with a UV light. A brand spokesperson told Yahoo's Shine they’ve been flooded with calls since the speech, and are scrambling to increase stock for the “90 percent increase in calls for this color alone.”
Yet it wasn’t just beautyholics who took notice of the distinctive hue. I recognized a movement was about to go mainstream when a male friend posted a Facebook status during the speech commending Obama's look and adding, "Are those BLUE nails?”
Nail shades in recent seasons have been alternative to say the least. Black and gray tones aren’t your classic pinks or tans or reds. The most style-savvy way to wear them, according to the experts, is on short, crisply filed tips.
Until now, women who work in creative fields have enjoyed carte blanche to paint on the unconventional pigments. But those in more conservative roles have hesitated over the perceived social appropriateness of sporting them. A lawyer friend once told me how she pined to wear the indigo black shade that was such a hot trend a while back, but she feared potentially offending her supervisor and clients at work if she did so.
With the First Lady wearing a gray-lilac manicure to deliver an address to the nation, I wonder if it will push the boundaries of beauty self-expression by making it culturally acceptable to wear eccentric nail colors in even the most formal environments—and to have a little fun.
Like perhaps the next time you put on a skirt or pant suit in an atmosphere that calls for it, you can still communicate you’ve got a playful edge with an avant-garde polish that may have previously made your grandmother shake her head and say, "Tsk-tsk."
Or is Obama able to pull this off because, well, she’s Michelle Obama? With a signature style that is more unexpected and offbeat than anything else, combined with her legendary love for the right to bare her beautifully toned arms, some may feel she’s the exception rather than the new rule.
What do you think? Has our First Lady made funky nail polish acceptable in professional situations? Or do you believe it’s a trend better reserved for casual situations and the weekend?