31 Elevated Nail Designs For Special Occasions

gold plated manicure

@glosshouse/Design by Cristina Cianci

So often, people assume that nail art must be inherently bold. On the contrary, we're here to shed a little light on elevated nail designs that are subtle enough for conservative work environments and sophisticated enough for black-tie affairs. The color palettes are largely more neutral and the designs more simple, but let us be clear: These nail art ideas are anything but boring.

Keep reading to discover dozens of subtle-yet-elevated nail art ideas. Be sure to screenshot the ones you want to recreate so that you have an inspiration image on hand for your manicurist (or yourself).

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Pale Pink Marble

Classy Nail Designs Pink Marble


You can embrace one of the season's prettiest nail trends while still embracing an office-friendly nail look. Case in point: These pretty pale pink marble nails. Here's hoping they'll give you the power of rose quartz while you wear them.

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Peachy Nude

Classy Nail Designs Nude


An elevated nail look can be as simple as picking a gorgeous subtle hue. Take one look at these peachy nails, and you'll know what we mean.

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Stacked Jewels

Classy Nail Designs Stacked Jewels


Gemstones go a long way when it comes to creating elegant nail looks. This one would be perfect for a bride (or anyone who loves a little bling).

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Abstract Champagne

Classy Nail Designs Abstract Champagne


This manicure might be abstract, but thanks to the subtle, glimmering nail shade, it offers a sophisticated, artsy vibe. Best of all, since it's abstract, it's easy to recreate. Dip a toothpick or dotting tool into rose gold nail polish and twirl it along each nail. Finish with topcoat.

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Traced in White

Classy Nail Designs White Border


Achieving an elevated nail look doesn’t require covering all of your nails in full coats of color. Here, you can see how stunning white outlines and well-placed gems and dots can enhance your look in a minimalist way. 

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Short Acrylics

Classy Nail Designs Short Acrylics


Milky pink ombré nails? Talk about the most gorgeous subtle acrylics.

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Glitter Ombré

Classy Nail Designs Glitter Ombre


Pale purple glitter ombré? Yes, please!

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Rounded French Tips

Classy Nail Designs Rounded French Tips


Point blank: You can never go wrong with a classic French manicure. 

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Gold Glitter Chevron

Classy Nail Designs Gold Glitter Chevron


Gold glitter chevron over dark berry creates an eye-catching contrast that’s sophisticated and fun.

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Moody French Mani

Classy Nail Designs Moody French


If you love a French mani's look but want to get creative with the colors, opting for a fall-and-winter-friendly palette maintains an elevated vibe.

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Black French Tips

Classy Nail Designs Black French


Another option is to transform the classic French manicure into a black-tipped beauty. It’s a particularly fabulous option for black-tie affairs. 

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Sparkly Mauve

Classy Nail Designs Sparkly Mauve


Glittery pink nails can look sophisticated, too. Just opt for a mauve hue and trace the bottom with a solid metallic silver to balance the whimsical hue. 

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Subtle Acrylics

Classy Nail Designs Subtle Acrylics


Acrylic nails don’t have to be incredibly long. These square-tipped nails prove it. They also show just how alluring an asymmetric take on French tips can look.

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Milky Brown Diagonal Tips

Classy Nail Designs Milky Brown Tips


Minimalist brown-dipped tips? Absolutely. (P.S. Nail striping tape will make recreating this nail look a cinch.)

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Khaki and Gold

Classy Nail Designs Khaki and Gold


Khaki and gold can make for quite the pairing. Plus, negative space gives the manicure a clean grow-out.

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Nude Hearts

Classy Nail Designs Nude Hearts


Even seasonal nails can look sophisticated with the right design elements. Just look at these heart nails. With nude backgrounds and ultra-fine white lining, they look positively demure.

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Geometric Negative Space

Classy Nail Designs Geometric Negative Space


Looking for a sophisticated manicure worthy of a black-tie affair? Look no further than these geometric stunners.

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Gold Foil Speckles

Classy Nail Designs Gold Foil Speckles


Diagonal mauve tips with gold flakes throughout? It’s one abstract design that looks subtle and undoubtedly elevated.

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Velvet Nails

Classy Nail Designs Velvet


Velvet nails are a great option for elevated nails, as the polish alone creates an sophisticated end look. 

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Mauve Diagonals

Classy Nail Designs Mauve Diagonals


Of course, if you prefer to keep it as simple as possible, opting to keep gold flakes out of the picture makes for a pretty manicure, too. 

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Cloud-Like Tips

Classy Nail Designs Cloud Tips


Whether you see hearts or clouds, these playful gold and white nails offer a fun yet sophisticated vibe. 

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Berry Fade

Classy Nail Designs Berry Fade


Want to get in on the rainbow nail trend without actually wearing a bold rainbow? This pink-to-berry ombré grasps the trend while looking office-friendly.

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Minimalist Art Deco

Classy Nail Designs Minimalist Art Deco


Prefer to make more of a statement with your nails? These subtle art deco nails will make you swoon.

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Neutral Acrylics

Acrylic nails are often automatically viewed as bold. However, if you opt for a neutral polish color, you can embrace the idea of subtle acrylics.

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Tortoiseshell Tips

Classy Nail Designs Tortoiseshell Tips


Tortoiseshell tips are the perfect option for the person who wants to get in on the latest nail trends without rocking a fully bold manicure.

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Chocolate Drip

Classy Nail Designs Chocolate Drip


This water-marbled brown ombre manicure is giving us major milk chocolate-caramel vibes. It’s a sweet look.

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Lilac Stunners

Classy Nail Designs Lilac


Carefully placed gold foil can go a long way. One look at these proves that they're magically elegant.

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Glitter Halfsies

Classy Nail Designs Half Glitter


Opting for only half a nail’s worth of glitter makes for a fun-yet-elegant nail look. And good news: It’s easy to recreate. Start with a base coat, then apply a strip of nail tape down the middle of each nail, and paint glitter polish on the side of the tape. Remove the tape once fully dry and finish with a topcoat.

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Nude Fade

Classy Nail Designs Nude Fade


This is probably the subtlest rainbow mani we’ve ever seen. We love the mix of neutral tones.

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Tiny Evil Eyes

Classy Nail Designs Evil Eyes


Teeny evil eyes make for almost undetectable nail art. In other words, très elevated. 

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Nude Abstract

Classy Nail Designs Nude Abstract


Nude and white always pair beautifully for a simple (but stunning) look. This one, in particular, is easy to DIY. All you need is a nude base with white squiggles and dots on top.

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