Mani Monday: An Econ Lesson, Care of the Nail Polish Index


We never think too much about what we’re wearing on our nails…scratch that, we totally do. But now we’ve begun to consider that the decision we obsess over every week has implications that are more significant than having to coordinate our outfits with an unmatchable polish color. According to contributor Lee Sheppard, the true indicator of economic stability (and, well, instability) is the pretty polish we wear on our nails.

The ‘20s and ‘30s saw dark shades everywhere, “qualify[ing] as a leading indicator—telling people things were headed into the porcelain plumbing before it was otherwise evident,” Sheppard points out. Pale polishes didn’t become popular again until the late ‘60s when we saw economic growth. Women got nostalgic in the late ‘70s—“when the economy was flat on its back”—and were inspired by ‘30s-era clothing, accessories and, yes, nail polish.

With the market boom of the ‘80s came a turn towards ballet-slippers pink nail polish, which eventually gave way to bankruptcies and black nails in the ‘90s. With the introduction of Chanel’s cult-classic Vamp, dark nail polish appeared on everyone. The black polish look, formerly reserved for Goths and punks, has even taken over New York’s socialite scene. “Usually, denizens of Manhattan’s upper east side stick with ballet slippers pink because economic life is always good for them. When they wear black polish, things are really bad.” As for now, we’re sticking with dark polish because it looks chic—and, with consistency, the “trend” this time around seems to correlate with the state of the economy, too.