50 Mismatched Manicure Designs To Banish Boring Nails

We're in the age of maximalism. "Less is more" is no longer a phrase in our vocabulary, and we wouldn't be surprised if you've also banished it in favor of mismatched outfits, excessive jewelry, and layers of clothes that would put even early aughts ensembles to shame. If you're a proponent of the "more is more" trend — say, your wardrobe is full of maximalist outfits and your house sports tons of mismatched thrift store decor — we'd be shocked if your maximalism hasn't bled over to your manicures yet. Mismatched manicures are the latest nail trend to appear in our maximalist era, and we can't get enough of it.

Are you new to mismatched nails? The idea can sound intimidating at first; after all, who wants to come up with a different design idea for each nail? Plus, how can one have mismatched nails and still achieve a cohesive manicure look? If these problems are plaguing you, don't worry. "Mismatched" doesn't always mean "clashing," and often, mismatched manicures will be centered around a particular theme to keep your look put together. The beauty of mismatched manicures, though, is that really anything goes, and we can't wait to see you sporting a set of nails that's as fun and unique as you are.

Do mismatched designs within the same color palette

Our first tip for achieving a mismatched manicure look that's still cohesive is to keep all your nails within the same color palette — but do different designs on each. A neutral color palette that emphasizes brown (like in the photo above) is clearly mismatched but absolutely put together.

Do the same design in different colors on each nail

Or, if you have one design that you want to stick to across all your nails, do it! Just pick a different color for each design, and you're still in for a cohesive mismatched manicure. Incorporate a French tip in the same color on each nail to tie the look together even further. 

Do a different design on each hand

Or, if you want your nails to match but also not match (it seems like a paradox, but bear with us), pick one design for each of your hands. You'll achieve a cohesive look across one hand while the other offers something a little different. Use a similar color palette on each hand to really tie the look together.  

A monochrome mismatched mani is especially stunning

If you're a big fan of monochromatic looks, take your favorite monochromatic color palette and apply it to your nails. Shades of blue paired with white make for a stunning color combo however you wear it, but we especially love how it's been applied to the mismatched manicure above. 

Contrasting colors on each hand are especially eye-catching

Another option for a cohesive mismatched manicure is to keep the designs the same on both of your hands but to do them in contrasting colors. This is a great opportunity to capitalize on chic color combos like black and white, or you could simply use both of the nail colors that you always have a hard time choosing between. 

Pick your favorite tarot symbols

Are you a mystic mama who loves to consult tarot cards when ruminating over matters of life? If so, take your love for all things tarot and slap it on your nails. You could use symbols from cards that have come up in a reading lately or get some tarot symbols from cards whose energy you'd like to see manifested in your life more. 

You can still have an accent nail with a mismatched mani

It might seem like you can't capitalize on the accent nail with a mismatched mani — after all, isn't every nail an accent nail? An easy way to achieve an accent nail on a mismatched manicure is to keep the rest of your nails solid colors while adding some texture or design to the accent nail.

Utilize some of your favorite seasonal symbols

Are you getting ready to do a mismatched manicure to embrace the current season? If so, utilize some of your favorite fun symbols on each nail. Clouds, suns, fruits like cherries and strawberries, and even a checkered picnic blanket pattern are all delightful summer design options for your mismatched manicure.

Use gentle multicolored pastels

Want a mismatched manicure that doesn't scream for attention but is eye-catching nonetheless? Pair some pastel shades of your favorite color and create a gradient across your hand, or just randomly apply one color to each nail. This makes for a fun and simple mismatched look that's easy to achieve whether you go to the salon or DIY your nails. 

Capitalize on some childhood nostalgia

Are you feeling nostalgic as of late? We don't blame you, especially with the recent resurgence of '90s fashion trends, ages-old styles, and color combos (looking at you, pink and green). Go ahead, take the nostalgia and run with it by incorporating it into your next mismatched mani. The "My Little Pony" design above executes this idea flawlessly. 

Use glitter and gloss polishes together

Another fun way to mismatch your mani is by combining glitter and gloss polish in similar colors to do different designs on each of your nails. The end result will be classy as anything, but you'll still achieve the visual interest that we all strive for with a mismatched manicure. 

Make it barely apparent that they're mismatched

Do you want to just take the mismatched manicure look for a test run? Or maybe your styles tend toward subtle elegance, and you're not willing to compromise that for the sake of a trendy manicure. When this is the case, mismatch soft shades on each of your nails, making it barely apparent.

Go for a day and night theme

Are you a mystical lady who considers the sun and moon her eternal muses? Incorporate your love for the celestial bodies into your mismatched manicure by theming one hand on the sun and one on the moon. This will let everybody know where your heart resides without being too flashy about it. 

Make them psychedelic with retro flowers and mushrooms

On the other hand, maybe psychedelic vibes are more up your alley. You love retro flowers and mushrooms, your favorite horror movie is "Midsommar," and pink is your color of the season. Go ahead and combine your love for all things groovy into a mismatched manicure. Stick to a pink, orange, and yellow color theme, and nobody will doubt which decade is your favorite. 

Support your favorite local joints by getting their logos

Do you have a favorite local restaurant? Or maybe you just opened your own and are trying to promote it. One billboard that far too few people take advantage of is your nails. Find a talented nail artist to copy the logo of your favorite local joint onto your nails, and you'll probably end up introducing a friend or two to their new favorite spot.

Or get your favorite anime characters

If you've found an obsession in an anime series, what better place to showcase it than on your nails? Combine your favorite characters, the show's logo, and other meaningful symbols together to get a mismatched manicure that other fans will recognize in an instant. 

Ask your tech to make them 3D

If you want an eye-catching mismatched manicure that breaks the nail art mold in more ways than one, we have a simple solution for you: Make it 3D. A mismatched manicure with 3D elements is one you're not likely to see elsewhere, and it's sure to have all your friends asking for your nail tech's number. 

Go for some mismatched neon swirls

A mismatched manicure that incorporates retro swirl patterns on each nail makes for a stunning look. You could keep the swirls in the typical retro color palette by sticking to burnt orange, yellow, and green, or if you're feeling bold, why not take it up a notch by embracing the neon auro nail trend and doing some swirls in neon colors? 

Give each nail a matte coat

Sure, mismatched nails are stunning on theirƒ own, but sometimes you want to give it a little extra oomph. When that's the case, go ahead and top off each nail with a matte top coat. Your mismatched manicure will still be eye-catching as anything, and the matte top coat will help tie your whole look together. 

Add florals into the mix

If you love a floral manicure and can't bear to part with it, don't. It's no news that floral nail art doesn't have to be boring, and that's especially the case when it comes to mismatched nails. Combine tiny flowers with polka dots and line art on each of your nails for a look that still lets the flowers take center stage while being incredibly visually interesting. 

Get some mismatched French tips

We get it: You're a French manicure gal, and you're not likely to switch it up anytime soon ... So don't. Stick to the same French look you get every time you go into the salon, but do us a favor and get each French tip in a different color.

Use different colors in a lightning bolt design

Fans of Harry Potter have probably already sported a lightning bolt manicure at least once (if you haven't, what are you waiting for?). Personally, we think lightning bolts make for a particularly stunning mismatched manicure option. Just do the lightning bolts in different neon colors on each nail and leave the base of your nail nude for a stunningly no-nonsense, mismatched manicure look.

An abstract mismatch can go with your fave swimsuit

In the summer months, why not match your next manicure to your favorite swimsuit? Swimsuits are hard to accessorize since you probably don't have a lot of accessories that you want to get wet, so go ahead and use your nails as their accessory piece. Match them to your suit however you'd like, but make the nails mismatch each other for maximum effect. 

Use your nails to write a reminder

Sometimes we all need little written reminders or sentiments to carry us through hard days. Sure, you could carry a note around in your pocket, but why not make the reminder as visible as possible by painting it on your nails? This can make for a sweet, sentimental mismatched look that you may just find yourself going for again and again. 

Do multicolored ombré squiggles

Squiggles are one of our favorite fun and easy nail design options, and they just got an upgrade with the mismatched manicure trend. If you want a minimalist mismatched look, ask your nail tech for ombré squiggles in a different color on each nail, and leave the background nude. It's an eye-catching look that also manages to appear effortless. 

Pineapples and palm leaves give perfect summer vibes

Another fun summer nail option for mismatched manicures is to capitalize on tropical vibes. Palm leaves, pineapples, sunglasses, and anything ocean-related make for great designs for this mismatched manicure idea. Make sure to incorporate some lime green, and you're in for a manicure that will be begging you to head to the beach. 

Flowers, hearts, and cherries work well together on different nails

Even simple, seemingly unrelated icons (like the above flower, clover, cherries, and heart) can make for a fun mismatched mani when worn together. Keep the design the same size on each nail, and you can even "frame" it with a dotted or solid border to tie the whole look together. 

Don't forget to include an animal print

We love a good animal print, and we hope animal prints stay in style ad infinitum. If you want to help us advance this worthy cause, adopt an animal (print) on one of your nails when you go in for your mismatched manicure. If you're really on board, get a different animal print on each nail to show your commitment.

Color them warm for fall

A mismatched manicure is a stunning option for when fall rolls around, simply because we love everything a fall color palette has to offer. Mustard yellow, burnt orange, forest green, brown, and taupe shades are all stunning for a fall mismatched mani. Add some leaves to each nail if you want to leave nobody guessing what your favorite season really is. 

Capture the essence of the ocean with shades of turquoise

Are you an ocean gal who could live in the sea if only you had gills? We get it, and so can your nails when you capitalize on all the different ocean-related shades. Personally, we're a big fan of using shades of turquoise in an ocean-themed mismatched manicure, as they can add an air of elegance to a sea-inspired mani.

Or give sea vibes with shells and scales

On the other hand, if you want to go big and bold with your ocean-themed mismatched nails, go big and bold — we certainly won't stop you. Combine different ocean designs and patterns like fish, crabs, seashells, seaweed, and even mermaid scales to achieve a mismatched manicure that'll have all your friends swooning. Bonus points if the colors are metallic to really capture that mermaid energy.

Give a nail some texture

Is it just us, or does everybody love the feel of textured nails? There's something fun about touching a sparkly, matte, or glossy mani — so when it comes to mismatched manicures, we say, why not add some texture into the equation? Combine glossy and glittery shades and even make a nail or two 3D for a manicure you'll love to feel almost as much as you love to look at. 

Do variations on a Barbie pink mani

Are you an avid fan of all things pink who's been in the market for some Barbiecore nail ideas lately? We think you should combine Barbiecore with the mismatched nail trend for a manicure that's fun, flirty, and interesting as anything. Use different types of the same bright pink color and mix and match them for an effortlessly Barbie look.

Wear a mismatched mani to Disney

If a trip to Disney is in the books for you sometime soon, take a mismatched manicure into the parks with you and make it Disney themed. Mickey ears, Minnie's polka dot dress pattern, or your favorite Disney characters are all great options for a manicure that everyone in the parks will admire. 

Do a different style of flower on each nail

Simple line art flower designs can make for an ultra-cohesive mismatched mani. Use the same color on each nail for your background and the same color for each flower, but vary the design of the flower a bit for a mismatched manicure that barely looks mismatched. 

Mismatched cupcakes are a festive design

Getting ready to celebrate a birthday? Or maybe you're just in a celebratory mood all the time — life is good, we don't blame you! Go ahead and capture the celebratory mood in a mismatched manicure by getting different colored cupcakes on each nail. You could go even further with the mismatched party theme by giving one nail confetti and another balloons. 

Give your design continuation across your hand

A super fun take on the mismatched trend is to give your mismatched nails some continuation across your hand. This can be achieved with any long, flowy design, from Christmas lights to flower stems or even a snake. This is a great, unique option for when you want mismatched nail art that still looks seamless. 

Theme them to celebrate Día de los Muertos

If you annually celebrate Día de los Muertos, show your respect for the deceased by paying homage to them with a mismatched manicure. Match your traditional Día de los Muertos outfit to your nails by incorporating the same colors, patterns, and symbols onto your nails — bonus points if you include floral designs. 

Make them (mis)match your makeup

Is your favorite eyeshadow look currently a melange of bright colors? If so, now's the perfect time to take your eyeshadow look at match it to your nails via a mismatched manicure. Take the colors used in your shadow and paint one on each nail; or, if you're feeling a bit more daring, paint your whole eyeshadow look onto each nail. 

Tie them together by giving each nail some glitter

Do you need to have at least one element consistent across your manicure for you to feel put together? If this is the case and you still want to try a mismatched mani, make your look cohesive by using some glitter on each nail. A sheer glitter top coat can do the job well, or you could go for a more opaque French tip. 

Give your mismatched mani steampunk vibes

Are you a fan of all things steampunk? You'd feel right at home in a world rife with automatons and want to capture those steam-powered machinery vibes in your daily life. If this sounds like you, try your hand at a mismatched steampunk manicure. Use whatever steampunk symbols resonate with you and stick to a metallic, black, gold, and silver color palette.

Incorporate cow print into a geometric design

Another great option for gals who want to try mismatched manicures but need them to have some cohesion is to pick a print that appears in each nail. We love the above geometric design separated by a cow print, for example, and you could achieve this same effect with any pattern or animal print. 

Put polka dots on an accent nail

Want your mismatched nails to really stand out? Pick one nail to add a pattern to, like stripes or polka dots. This is a great chance to theme a mismatched mani to a holiday or other special occasion. Make the pattern the same color as another nail to tie the whole look together. 

Add gold leaf into a mismatched marble design

A marbled nail look is absolutely stunning and elegant no matter how you do it — so making it mismatched only adds some fun to the equation. A mismatched marble manicure will let everyone know you're a classy lady who's down to party, and when you add some gold leaf to every nail, it'll tie your look together.

Incorporate all your mismatched colors into one accent nail

Maybe you have a color palette in mind for your mismatched nails (whether it be pastels, neons, or jewel tones), but you still want to make an accent nail that won't break your vibe. When that's the case, make your accent nail a combination of all the other colors you're using in your mani. 

Theme them after your favorite arcade game

Are you an avid fan of "Pac-Man," "Mortal Kombat," or another classic arcade game? Pay homage to your decades-old obsession by making your nails a tribute to it. Give each nail a drawing of a character from the game or just an element used in the game, and make your base color the same for a cohesive look. 

Or your favorite TV show

We all have a favorite TV show, and a mismatched manicure is a great way to let everyone know which fandom you're a part of. The Demogorgon on the set above, for example, is a clear nod to "Stranger Things," while a stapler in jello could be reminiscent of "The Office" or a test tube could be used to symbolize "Breaking Bad."

Give your mani a modern, abstract design

We're a huge fan of this next way to get a mismatched yet cohesive nail look: Use the same colors to create different abstract designs on each nail. Combine squiggles, dots, lines, and circles on the same base color to make every nail definitely different while keeping a put-together look. 

Make your mismatched mani macabre

Are you a fan of all things spooky? Halloween is your favorite season, scary movies are your favorite genre, and you've even been known to don a black hat on occasion. Go ahead and embody your love for everything grim by decorating your mismatched nails with skulls, crossbones, and even the harbinger of death himself. 

Get your favorite scary characters in on the action

Another option for fans of the scary: This Halloween season, theme your nails after your favorite classic horror movie (or movies). Put a classic character on each nail, or theme your nails off of one character's story. The carnival theme above pays homage to every spooky clown in a way that will give even the bravest trick-or-treaters a fright.