The Patent Leather French Manicure Puts a Soft Goth Twist on a Classic

It's celeb-approved.

Emily Ratajkowski wearing a patent leather french manicure

@nailsbyemikudo / Instagram

The popularity of Wednesday and the soft goth trend it sparked proves that we're all interested in indulging our dark sides. From Amelia Gray's bleached brows to Kourtney Kardashian Barker fully transforming her wardrobes to a collection of all-black pieces, being a hot goth is trending hard—and the movement just came for one of 2023’s leading manicure styles. Meet the celebrity-loved patent leather French manicure—ahead, everything you need to know about the trend.

The Trend

A patent leather French manicure is way less scary than it sounds—it’s essentially just a French manicure with the same nude base as the OG French manicure but with a high-shine black tip. “[The] French manicure is such an elegant design, yet so easy to coordinate with any wardrobe,” says Aprés Nail manicurist Emi Kudo. “While the trend nowadays is so diverse, it's natural that French manicures have developed in a variety of versions.”

Pheobe Bridgers' patent leather French manicure


Once reserved for those who considered themselves a part of the counter-culture, even the biggest stars are now trying their hand at edgier styles. "I think people have been trying to be a bit more daring with their style, and a [patent leather] French manicure allows the client to keep their look classy while adding a bit of edge,” explains Dazzle Dry nail artist Hannah Thayers. “Shows like Wednesday have inspired a dark grunge trend," she says, adding that the look was all over the recent Met Gala red carpet. Stars like Emily Ratajkowski, Jennifer Lopez, Jenna Ortega, and Phoebe Bridgers all wore their own renditions of patent leather French nails to the event, whereas stars like Lizzo have been wearing the look both on and off the red carpet.

Lizzo wearing a patent leather French manicure


How to Get a Patent Leather French Manicure

If the patent leather French manicure is tugging on your teenage angst heartstrings, the pros have a fool-proof guide for getting the perfect French tip at home. First, you’ll want to prep your nails by trimming them to your desired length and then pushing your cuticles back (leave the cuticle trimming to the pros). After that, file into your desired shape, and then buff your entire nail bed for a ridge-free surface.

Jennifer Lopez's patent leather French manicure


Next, apply a base coat, followed by two coats of your favorite sheer nude nail polish. Then, it’s time to create the French shape. Thayers recommends using Dazzle Dry's Midnight Express ($22) with a thin nail art brush to maintain precision. She says, “I like to put my first stroke down lightly across the center of the nail tip and then connect the sides stroking towards the middle with a little swooping action.”

If this sounds too difficult for you, Kudo also recommends drawing a “smile line” with an angled brush (the Aprés Nail French Manicure Gel in French Black,$15 comes with an angled brush for easy application). You can also opt for a micro patent leather French manicure by drawing a thin black line along the edge of the nail.

Regardless of which technique you choose, once you’ve established the tip line, fill in the rest of the tip with black nail polish. Finish the look with a high-shine top coat, and there is the moodiest take on this year’s trending mani.

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