51 Fancy French Manicure Designs That Will Take Your Classic Nails To The Next Level

The French manicure is a classic style that'll probably stick around for the long haul. It was invented in 1975 by Orly International CEO Jeff Pink, who saw the need for an easy nail style option for female actors. The look took off after being seen on celebs Cher and Barbra Streisand, and as with many long-lasting trends, we've seen several evolutions of the French manicure as decades have passed. 

The classic French manicure will always hold a special place in our hearts, but we love seeing how individuals have adopted and updated the style to give it fresh life over the years. Whether you decide to soften your look by turning it into a French fade, or up the ante by utilizing bright colors and glitter, the French manicure provides a great opportunity to turn a classic style into your own. If you're a glam fashionista who's looking to freshen up her nails with something a bit new, a fancy take on the French manicure may be just the place to start. 

Go half-red, half-nude

If you're an understated chick who likes to step outside the box while not being too extra with it, we have the perfect fancy French manicure look for you: a half-red, half-nude French mani. This is an especially chic look when you match the nude shade to the rest of your nail. Use a darker red to go more subtle, or go for a bright cherry red if you're feeling a little sexy. 

A watercolor French fade is gentle and stunning

Who doesn't love watercolors? Nobody we know, that's for sure. If you want something really offbeat and awe-inspiring, try giving your French manicure a watercolor makeover. The watercolor French fade above is stunning, but you could also give your watercolor French manicure a harsh line if you want to keep it distinct from the rest of your nail. 

Try an angled French mani

If you consider yourself to be a bit on the edgier side of things, the angled French manicure may be a great take on the classic for you. To create this look, start painting in a top corner of your nail, then drag your color of choice down to the opposite corner. It extends the classic French manicure just a bit for some added visual interest, and looks great whether you leave the rest of your nail nude or add in another color. 

A multi-toned chevron French mani is très chic

Sure, your standard French manicure typically only utilizes one color (or two if you're also painting the base of your nail), but we encourage you to include more colors in your French mani as you see fit. Take the above chevron French nails, for example: Each nail boasts two colors for the French design, and the colors are inverted on every nail. It's an eye-catching look that also manages to be well put-together. 

Make them galaxy-inspired

If you're constantly dreaming of galaxies far, far away, do yourself a favor and head into the salon for a galaxy-inspired French manicure. Glitter polish is a must here, and classic galaxy colors include blue, purple, and pink. If you want a uniform look, you can always use the same colors for each galaxy nail, or you can go multicolored (as in the photo above) when you want to really stand out. 

Go for floral French tips

You constantly opt for floral nails at the salon, and you're loath give that up for any trending nail design, French manicure included. What if we told you that you didn't have to compromise your desire for florals just to stay on top of trends? The next time you head to the salon, ask for French tip nails made entirely out of your favorite flower, and leave the rest of your nail nude for a stunning take on the trend.

Add flecks of glitter on top

Maybe a solid manicure is just too mainstream for you, and you need to add a little something extra to glam it up a bit. When that mood strikes, try adding some flecks of glitter on top of your favorite French manicure color. A polish that boasts some large flecks will add visual interest to your mani without overcomplicating it. 

Decorate them with bows

You're a schoolgirl at heart who tries to embody sweet, innocent, feminine vibes whenever possible — including when it comes to your nails. Though the standard French manicure exudes femininity in and of itself, we think you should take the leap and add some cute bows along the border of each French tip. 

Add in some gemstones

Those looking for extra glitz and glam are probably used to adding some glitter to their nails on the regular. However, sparkly gemstones are an under-utilized nail accessory. If you want a fresh way to glam up your French mani, try adding some gemstones to your French tips. You can place them directly to the tip, or add them to the base of your nail if the tip doesn't offer enough room.

Paint a glittery border

Sometimes all you need to take your fancy French manicure up a notch is a simple addition. Consider the thin, gold glitter border on the above nails, for instance: It offers a great, understated complement to the blue chevron tips that doesn't detract from the French mani itself. 

Slightly vary each tip

Fans of the traditional French manicure may want to change it up a bit without really changing it at all. It sounds like an oxymoron, but we're happy to report it's perfectly possible. Simply pick a few slightly varied French designs and add a different one to each nail. You'll still end up with a very uniform look that offers something different from the French mani you usually opt for. 

Do it on half your nail

Do yourself a favor when you're feeling minimalist and only do the French tip on half your nail. Extend it down the entire length of your nail when you still want to show it off. This look pairs wonderfully with a nude nail, but painting the rest of your nail a solid color offers opportunity for even more visual interest. 

Try red tips on a milky base

Though the above look is admittedly reminiscent of the holiday season, it doesn't have to be December to capitalize on a red and white French manicure. Use a translucent milky white shade on the base of your nail and paint the tip cherry red for a fancy French manicure that's sure to garner lots of attention. 

A chrome French mani is stunning

You want to keep people guessing when it comes to your nails. Though you love classic designs, you also like to switch it up — and nobody knows what you'll get next. The next time you get a French manicure, surprise your manicurist by asking for it in chrome. This delightfully futuristic take on the classic will let everyone know you'll be wearing it for years to come. 

Do them in glittery gold

Only the glammest of glammers can pull this look off, so if you fall under that umbrella, we think you should absolutely get a glittery gold French manicure. This style is especially appropriate for any party you may go to during the holiday season, especially if you leave your nail bed nude to avoid a maximalist vibe.

A silver French tip can make a statement

Maybe you don't opt for gold because it's too flashy for you, but you still want a chic and fancy French manicure nonetheless. Go ahead and opt for silver — it might not be as eye-catching as gold but still offers some of the same glam sophistication, especially when worn on a nude base.

Incorporate some polka dots

Do you want your French nails to exude some playfulness? Do yourself a favor and add some polka dots to whatever variation of French manicure you decide on. We love the varied size of the polka dots on the angled French mani above, but you could achieve a similar effect with a French tip that runs straight across your nails, as well. 

A thin French tip can be sophisticated

If your vibes are the very essence of minimalistic, there's a good chance you've never opted for a French manicure — it simply doesn't jive with your usual look. Well, we're delighted to report that you, too, can adapt the French mani to suit your preferences, and it's pretty easy to do so. Simply make it super, super thin. A white line will make it look like you don't even have painted nails, while a fashion color can add a small pop of something extra. 

Go for a two-toned French mani

Maybe you've heard of the monochrome French manicure trend, and you want to try it out by getting a two-toned French manicure the next time you're at the salon. Pick two colors in the same color family that are a few shades apart, and apply the darker one to the tip of your nail, leaving the lighter one for the base. 

Try a full nude French tip

Maybe colors really aren't your thing, especially when it comes to your mani, but you still want a slight departure from the traditional French tips. Instead, try a French manicure that utilizes soft nude tones. A cream offers a softer variation of the traditional white tip and looks great paired with a nude that's a shade or two different from your natural nail. 

Turn them into holiday baubles

Sometimes the holiday season calls for something a bit playful on your nails, but an ultra-fancy version of a French manicure just won't do. If this is a dilemma you face every holiday season, try the above playful take on the French manicure that makes each nail look like a sparkly holiday bauble. You could make each the same color, or give them different sparkly shades if you really want to stand out.  

Make your French tips look like waves

Summer, on the other hand, calls for a completely different playful take on the French manicure. Fancy up your French manicure in the warmer months by painting them with an idyllic beach scene. Some frothy waves make for excellent (and impressive) French tips, and you can add other summer-themed designs to the base of your nails as you see fit. 

Or just draw some daisies

We already know florals are great for spring, but have you ever considered doing a simple floral-inspired French manicure? To achieve this look, all you have to do is paint a few of your favorite flower (such as the daisies in the above photo) on the tip of each nail. Leave the base nude or give it a complementary color, depending on your mood. 

A black French tip is instantly chic

You're a sophisticated, glam gal who refuses to wear anything but the highest of high fashion, and you want your nails to match that endlessly elevated vibe. Do yourself a favor and hop on the dark French manicure trend by painting the tips of your nails black. A standard black French manicure is chic enough, but if you want, you can turn an accent nail into a design, as in the heart tip on the above ring finger. 

Gold foil gives celestial glam

Maybe gold glitter really doesn't match your style, but you still want to adopt gold in some way when you get your next fancy French manicure. Instead of doing glittery gold, go offbeat by adding some gold foil to the tips of your nails, and make the rest of your nails celestial-themed. 

Add in some white accents

Of course, you're always free to add in accents to your French manicure as you see fit. Take the above example — the blue-to-nude French fade looks stunning with the addition of some white-lined flames overtop each nail. White accents are an easy and subtle way to add something extra to your French manicure without overwhelming it. 

Make it multicolored

If you're the flashiest of flashy chicks, there may be no French manicure better suited to you than one that employs all the colors of the rainbow. We love the above multicolored French manicure, especially how it utilizes curves to give an almost dripping effect to each nail.

Give them some transparency

Nobody said your French manicure has to be opaque. In fact, if your nails are long enough, we think you may love a transparent (or semi-transparent) French manicure. All you need to do is leave some empty space in whatever design you choose to do for your French tip, and let the light shine through. 

Silver glitter is great for the holidays

Even if you don't want to adopt the playful baubles we've talked about doing for a holiday French manicure, you can still use a silver glitter polish to exude holiday glam. A simple silver glitter French tip is a lower-key way to usher in the holiday season. And though you don't have to add anything to the rest of your nails, you could definitely add in some starry accents (as in the photo above). 

Make them look like hearts

Maybe you're prepping for Valentine's Day, or you're just in a particularly lovey-dovey mood. Whatever the case may be, go ahead and showcase your emotions on your nails with these heart-shaped French tips. A single red or pink shade would get the message across beautifully, but we also love the two-toned design in the photo above that utilizes both colors. 

Try a French fade instead

If you've always gone for some variation of the classic French manicure, it may be high time to try out the French fade trend. A French fade utilizes two colors and seamlessly blends them into one another on each nail to create a "fade" look. It's an elevated take on the classic design that's perfect if you want a subtle, but still fancy as anything, French manicure look. 

Nude tones help designs stand out

You love French manicures and French fades, but this time around you want your nail design to take center stage. You can still get a beautiful French mani — just make sure you utilize nude tones when creating it so that your designs can really stand out. 

Try on a colorful glitter fade

A slightly flashier take on the French fade manicure utilizes a glitter polish on the tip and fades it into the rest of your nail. It's just as classy as any other French fade but more suited for occasions that call for a little extra glitz and glam. 

Or a reverse glitter fade

Do you love the glitter French fade but refuse to follow trends? We have a simple solution: Just reverse it. A reverse glitter fade will still make you look glam as anything, but it's offbeat enough to let people know that you're a trendsetter, not a follower. 

An abstract French design may hit the spot

Or maybe you don't even set trends — you just do your own thing, all the time. If this is the case, why not opt for an abstract French design? Ask your trusted manicurist to make one up on the fly, or look through some inspo pics and find features that stand out to you to create your own take on the French manicure. 

Make them Barbie-inspired for extra class

You're a modern fan of everything Barbie, and pink is your "it girl" color. It only makes sense, then, that you'd want to exude everything Barbie, even when you get your next French manicure. Opt for hot pink tips, or even use two shades — one for the tip and one as a border color. A Barbie silhouette on the base of an accent nail can round out this girly look.

Play with a watercolor design

Honestly, we can't get enough of this flashy and stunning version of a French manicure. Do yourself a favor and find a nail artist experienced with watercolor techniques, and ask them to recreate some version of the above French manicure in whatever your favorite colors are. They look great on the silhouette nails above, but you could just as easily pull this off on any nail shape. 

Pick an offbeat seasonal color

If you're looking for a fall French manicure idea and only coming up with soft neutral colors, it may be time to expand your horizons a bit. Consider opting for moody, offbeat seasonal colors instead. For example, royal blue is a stunning and under-utilized fall nail color, as are emerald green and burnt orange. 

Make them look like the sky

This fancy French manicure has to be one of our favorites on this list, even if just because it manages to be subtle and stunning at the same time. You'll need the skills of a talented nail tech to pull this one off, but if you can find one, this sky-inspired French manicure is sure to garner compliments galore. 

Incorporate Hawaiian florals

You're in the full swing of summer and prepping for your next beach vacation, but the French manicure you typically go for seems too upscale for a beach environment. You don't have to eschew it entirely — simply add some Hawaiian floral accents to make your French manicure perfectly beach-worthy. 

Add in some charms if you're feeling extra

You're so extra that not even the most offbeat take on a French manicure fits in with your personal style. Embrace your desire to go above and beyond all the time by adding charms to your French nails. You'll need long, thick nails to pull this off, but the end result is sure to be just as stunning as you are. 

Experiment with texture

Another way to embrace your extravagance is by adding some textural elements to your French manicure. Small details like charms can make even the simplest French manicure stand out (literally). You could keep the texture to one or two nails, or add some to all your nails for extra effect. 

Add in a French moon for good measure

Do you need more than a simple French tip to satisfy you? Go ahead and add in a French moon as well for a double-edged take on the classic. You could let the French tip and French moon stand on their own, or add in extra accents (like the gold lines above) if you're looking for more visual interest. 

Make them reminiscent of blue and white china

You know that blue and white china that your grandmother kept sequestered away in a china cabinet, only to be used on the fanciest of occasions? If this brings back fond memories, we think you should adopt the blue-and-white china look the next time you go into the salon for a fancy French manicure. 

Pick just a few nails to make French

We hope you already know this, but you definitely don't have to do a French manicure on all your nails to sport the style well. If you're not feeling full-on French, try getting a French design on just a couple of your nails. Who knows? Maybe you'll love them so much that next time you opt for a full set. 

Muted pastels are subtle and classy

You love the French look, but you need something ultra subtle to match your low-key vibes. Gentle pastels can come in handy here. Paint the tips of your nails with muted pastels for a polished look that won't garner much attention and isn't too overstated. 

Incorporate squiggly lines to soften it up

Are you worried about your French manicure being too harsh of a look? It certainly can look severe if you employ straight lines, but using curvy lines instead can soften your whole look to make it more approachable. Curve the color of your French manicure, and add an extra curvy line underneath for added effect. 

Extend the French tip for dramatic effect

Do you want to achieve a dramatic French manicure look without using bright colors? One of the simplest ways to do so is by drastically extending a neutral-colored French tip for dramatic effect. This works best with long nails, but you could pull it off on shorter nails as well.

A French optical illusion set is underdone

For something extra eye-catching (and somewhat dizzying), why not opt for an optical illusion French set like the one above? It may not seem like a French manicure at first glance, but on a closer look, the offset French tip is a great complement to the inverted colors on the rest of the nail. 

Make your French mani seasonally appropriate

We've already talked about baubles as a fancy holiday take on the French manicure, but if you want something a little more playful, we think you should try a Santa hat French manicure when the next festive season rolls around. This cute take on the French manicure will have all your friends wearing it once they see it on you. 

Make them geode-esque

Maybe you're a woo-woo chick who's constantly updating her collection of crystals and geodes. Make your French nails match your passion for shiny minerals when you make them look like geodes. Pick a few shades in the same color family, and paint gold glitter lines in between them (as in the photo above) to achieve this geode-inspired look.