The French Mani Is Back (But Not the Way You Remember It)

Modern French manicure at Kith NYFW SS19 Show.

Courtesy of Essie 

If you're like us, as soon as you notice a chip in your manicure, you begin to daydream about the nail art you'll book for your next appointment. While abstract designs and neon accents surely occupy a large amount of real estate in our Instagram "saved" folder, we also find ourselves gravitating toward a simpler, classic look: none other than the French manicure.

Now, we know what you're thinking: That's not new—and you'd be partially correct. But, thanks to Instagram and professional and DIY manicurists, modernized takes on the standard white tips are popping up left and right. From bright pops of color to tonal ombré nails, ahead you'll discover 40 fun ways to put a modern spin on the French mani. And trust us, you’ll be glad you tried them out.

Looking for some inspiration for your own nails? Keep scrolling for 40 fun, new takes on the French manicure that you’ll just love trying out.

01 of 40

White Edges

Modeled on the Kith runway, these Squoval nails pair with white catty-corner accents for an updated French manicure that we plan to immediately include in our repertoire.

02 of 40

Rainbow Tips

If you love the simplicity of a French manicure but crave a bold pop of color, you can't go wrong with this rainbow take on the classic. With four ultra-thin curved lines, your tips will look like something dreamt up by Lisa Frank.

03 of 40

Diagonal French

Not all French manicures have to take up the entire tip of your nail. This one shows how statement-making it can be to try a half-dip.

04 of 40

Glitter Tips

Sometimes all it takes is swapping out white polish for your favorite glittery silver. Our favorite is the Essie Luxeffects Nail Polish ($9) in Set in Stones.

05 of 40

Blue Beauties

White nail polish is dainty and demure; majestic sky blue, on the other hand, demands attention.

06 of 40

Technicolor Tips

Why settle on just one color when you can wear a rainbow French tip on each nail? To get the look, use a French manicure sticker to section off your nail and serve as a stencil for the fine line between the neutral base and colorful tip. From there, place a few drops of different-colored polishes side-by-side on a plate. Use a sponge to gently pick up all the colors and press it on your nails. It will effortlessly blend between the shades for a subtle faded effect.

07 of 40

Negative Space French

French manicures are gorgeous for their simplistic design. If you want to make it a bit more complex while still nailing the minimalist allure, skip a solid coat of white in favor of this lightly lined look.

08 of 40

Tortoiseshell Tips

Who doesn't love tortoiseshell? Sure, the marbled acetate looks great on accessories, but it's even more enticing on your digits.

09 of 40

Metallic Pink Tips

These nails might look like a single shade of pink glimmering in the light, but if you look closely, you'll notice that each tip is a varying shade of fuchsia.

10 of 40

French Stars

Instead of ditching classic white French tips altogether, why not try pairing them with an extra touch of glam? Here, we have a single star glued to each nail for pretty, minimalist impact.

11 of 40

Retro Blue

These fun baby blue nails will leave you feeling anything other than, well, blue. In fact, the retro design paired with the light, bright hue might make you feel downright cheery.

12 of 40

Slim Black Tips

Why line your whole nail with a French tip when you can make just as big of an impact with a fine line arched around the outermost edge? One thing's for sure: With a crisp line like that, you'll have to enlist the help of a pro or keep a touch-up pen close by.

13 of 40

Double Arches

After creating your French tip, consider mirroring it with a half-moon at the base of your nail. While you can opt for one singular color, pairing two bold hues together will make even more of a statement.

14 of 40

Tonal Tips

Whether you love the tonal manicure trend or you simply can't make up your mind as to which sweater-weather shade to pick, this fall-friendly mani is worth adding to your inspo folder.

15 of 40

Duo Digits

It's a twofer: We're into it— especially since every edge has a different shade combination.

16 of 40

Modern French

We can't take our eyes off of this geometric rendition of the classic French manicure. While the white tip doesn't extend across the entire nail, the way it's layered with a slightly paler shade gives it a dimension that we want to copy ASAP.

17 of 40


For all the classic French manicure lovers, check out this bejeweled (er, be-shelled) nail art idea. It's a more elegant tradeoff for the holographic pastels of typical mermaid-inspired nails.

18 of 40

Splash of Color

What do you get when you cross a Crayola box with a French mani? We imagine something like this varicolored set.

19 of 40

Stenciled Letters

Whether you choose your initials, or spell an impactful word or mantra across your digits, stenciled letters make a statement—literally. Make it easy on yourself and use adhesive decals. That way, you can have a “word of the day,” and switch things up.

20 of 40

Turtle Tips

These turtle-shell inspired nails also give us a California avocado vibe. The marbled effect would look great in different colors as well.

21 of 40

Neon Tips

You didn't think we'd forget to include the neon trend, did you? These bright neon tips are swirled with vivid colors to really make a lasting impression.

22 of 40

Citrus Color Splash

Sometimes all it takes is swapping out shades for a fun take on a classic. This marbled tip has all the zesty tartness of a basket of citrus fruits. You can try to replicate the look at home. We suggest using guide stickers to get your perfect tip shape.

23 of 40

Pink Points

Go big or go home—or, in this case, go as paper-thin (and pink) as possible to make a really big splash. Before you know it, all your friends will be snagging your snap-worthy nail art.

24 of 40


This white-tipped look stays true the classic while adding a (literal) twist. (See how it's sloped down towards one side of the nail?) We're loving the unexpected variation.

25 of 40

Fine Lines

This may very well be the teeniest, tiniest French mani we've ever seen. And yet, the ultra-fine lines capture our attention in a way that a classic French never could

26 of 40

Pastel Swirls

Take the classic French tip and turn it on its side, and you'll get elegant designs like these pastel swirls. They have a lovely sense of movement, and strike a delicate balance between looking simultaneously classy and hip.

27 of 40

Cow Print Tips

Bring some fun farm life vibes to your nails. You can’t get much more playful than cow spots on your tips. The other nice thing about this look is that the neutral colors are sure to go well with most anything you wear.

28 of 40

Pastel Dots

Cute and flirty, we love the little pastel-colored dots that adorn these nails. It’s a great look for spring, or when you’re craving the arrival of warmer weather at the end of winter. If you're in the mood to DIY, try a dotting pen tool for perfectly precise dots.

29 of 40

Spring Color Burst

Springy and fresh, we love the colors used here. This look would be adorable for a baby shower, Easter, or a spring gathering, and would be easy enough to do at home on your own.

30 of 40

Ombré Gray

One of the most popular ways to upgrade a French manicure is to blur the lines between colors. And, we can't lie, we totally understand why after sinking down the rabbit hole search query that is #frenchombrenails.

31 of 40

Picnic Blanket Vibes

Remember the classic picnic blanket print? How about using everyone’s favorite alfresco dining experience as your inspiration. Just one look at them will instantly conjure up fond memories of watermelon slices and summertime fun.

32 of 40

Happy Smiles

When you need a little reminder to smile more often, why not adorn your tips with tiny happy faces? These playful tips make it virtually impossible to not break out into your biggest grin.

33 of 40

Rainbow Dots

We are obsessed with these. It’s almost like the more you look at them, the more you want to. The color combos really pop, and the design manages to be alluring without being busy or gaudy.

34 of 40


The options are nearly endless if you pair a micro image, like these adorable butterflies, with a classic French mani look. Consider flowers, moons, lady bugs, cats, music notes, shooting stars, or fall leaves. You can customize your look based on the season or your favorite hobby.

35 of 40

Golden Glitter

These regal-looking nails would make a perfect choice for a wedding, gala, or black tie event. Of course, they're also a great look for a nice night in with takeout and a movie. You can’t go wrong with glitter.

36 of 40

Flirty Print Tips

When you’re looking for novelty and variety, why not decorate each tip with a different cute print? This mani went straight to our inspiration board.

37 of 40

Ice Cream Pastels

These nails give us all the lovely nostalgic vibes of a retro ice cream parlor. You can almost smell rocky road and vanilla bean wafting in the air, and that oh-so-craveable aroma of freshly baked waffle cones.

38 of 40

Tie-Dye Swirls

Tie-dye is in; French manicures are in—it was only a matter of time before the two joined forces for one epic nail look. You can also switch up the color palette you use, keeping the options nearly endless.

39 of 40

Doodle Drawings

Who doesn't love some nail art? There’s something eye-catching in these playful prints. If you’re looking for a lighthearted design, little doodles can make a cute option and will certainly put you in a good mood.

40 of 40

Pink Swirls

What's more eye catching than these hot pink swirly tips? You could even use a UV blacklight-compatible nail polish to make your look come to life and really pop in the dark.

Related Stories