Short, Square Nails Are Having a Moment

Time to switch it up.

Ella Mai with short square nails

Ella Mai

They say three makes a trend. Kim Kardashian and Megan Thee Stallion both recently said they’re sticking with short nails, while Rihanna rocked short nails in her Super Bowl announcement. Can you name a more trend-sparking trio? Didn’t think so. Hence, trend super status for short, square nails has been cemented. 

The Trend

“As with all trends, there will come a moment where some people want to go against the trend and do a full 180-degrees from it,” says Julie Kandalec, NYC-based celebrity manicurist. “I think long nails will stick around for the long haul, with short nails being in a little pocket.”  

Rita Remark, NY-based manicurist & essie Global Lead Educator, agrees that there’s inevitably going to be backlash to fads. “Whenever trends lean heavily to one side, they are almost always met with a counter trend shortly afterwards,” she says. “Longer, dramatic nails have been the trend for a few years now, so shorter, more utilitarian lengths feel edgier. While I don't think long nails are suddenly on their way out—quite the contrary—I do think that a bit more length variety is on its way in.” 

The Perks

The best kind of trend is one that’s easily wearable and that’s another reason this nail look wins major points. Despite that Kim K., Megan Thee Stallion and Rihanna have jumped on the short, square nails bandwagon, Kandalec believes that this is one trend not driven by celebs. “I see this more with moms sending their kids back to school, fall football games and just wanting something a little less maintenance until the holiday season where they'll amp it up again,” she says. “Plus, deep fall colors tend to be a little more wearable on a short nail.”  

There are definitely perks to having short nails over long ones. “Shorter nails are easier to maintain and easier to wear,” Remark says. “You don't need a manicurist to achieve the look and everyday tasks are much easier to accomplish.”  

However, just because nails are shorter doesn’t mean they’re totally effortless. “It will most likely mean less time in the salon, but you will still have to go for an appointment as frequently,” Kandalec says.

Get the Look

To nail the trend, determine the most complimentary short, square shape for your individual nails and hands. “There isn't a best way—there's only the most flattering way,” Remark says. “The only shape I wouldn’t recommend on short nails, especially if you have short nail beds, is round. This can make the nails look like a circle.” If you have very wide nail plates, try a soft square and curve the nails inward at the sides, while keeping a flat tip. If your nails are more narrow, keep the edges slightly sharper. 

Start by trimming your nails straight across with a straight edge nail clipper. “This saves time on filing and gives you an instant square shape,” Remark says. “Next, refine the tip with a file; filing straight across the tip and on a curved angle along the corners to smooth away any sharp edges.”  

Remember that you have options within the short, square nails profile. Kandalec recommends using a glass nail file like this one from Germanikure. “Working in the center of the nail, gently file the tip as square as desired,” she says. “Tip: If you tilt the nail file downwards as you file, the edge will be more rounded. For a perfectly square nail, hold the file at a 90-degree angle while you shape.”   

As for choosing a polish, the options are endless with short, square nails. To maximize fall vibes, Kandalec loves deep, dark moody reds like Morgan Taylor Tartan the Interruption ($10) or deep navy like Midnight Sleighride

“Short nails are probably the most democratic length for nail color,” Remark says. “Any shade that looks good against your skin tone will look excellent on short nails. It's only when your nails get longer that you have to worry about colors that may look witchy or distracting—unless that's what you're after, of course!”

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