Nail parlors were few and far apart when I was young. I feel like I’m describing the Pony Express to someone raised on email, but many historical facts are difficult to absorb. Suburbs had no places for mani-pedis. Except your hair salon. I don’t think I ever saw my mother with nail polish.
By the time I discovered nail salons, I had two young children. I could have cared less, at first, about color impact. It was all about getting to sit down for 45 minutes and have someone touch my feet. Without asking me to pick them up and or buy them non-nutritional foodstuffs. Over time, I found toe color reassuring. The moment of choosing felt significant. “Schiaparelli pink. No, this time, I’m Gothic red-brown.” As a mother, you take your identity-reinforcing moments where you find them, especially in places that don’t smell of pizza.
I went back to full-time work when my son was 7 and my daughter 10. Let me say now that I have never worn visible fingernail polish to the office. Let me also say that I don’t think it’s appropriate. I don’t feel it reinforces a working identity. I feel this strongly, even though I may be completely wrong. And, even though I may be completely wrong, my opinion may be useful to understand. Because other women of my age and background often feel similarly. You may come in front of a judge, or a vice president, or potential customer, from my generation.
Women like me still struggle with colored fingernails. We still associate them with women of questionable virtue. Or movie stars. Who are sometimes the same people. Fingernail polish to us looks like you might laze around in a peignoir eating chocolates and throwing wrappers on the rug. As though you might get paid for that which should not be paid for.
However, if you are in fact a lady of leisure, even respectable leisure, that’s a completely different story. Discrete flesh or pale pink tones for day, whatever brazen hussy hues you like for night. It’s just something about the juncture of working and colored nails.
Pedicures are another story. If there were ever a time for indulgence, it would be pedicures. Whatever secret life you want your toes to have, throw caution to the wind. Goes without saying that I am assuming you cover the majority of your toe area at the office.
These days I don’t go to an office. I don’t have small children at my feet. Or anywhere. Instead, I read and write about style. The goals and parameters of polish are different in this world. And in my exhaustive research, it appears that Chanel has planted their flag on Nail Color Mountain and are not ceding the hill any time soon.
Which means, of course, that I was recently compelled to purchase their latest sortie. Particuliere. A brownish, greyish, lavenderish, mauve. Tish Jett, over at A Femme, provided the introduction, while Lauren, at kidchamp.net, presaged the phenomenon with her photo of the Essie version.
A moment of identity reinforcement. I am a person who wears the “It” polish. Today. This year. Do I really care about the “It” polish? No. I don’t. It’s just fun to feel au courant. My toenails are the same color as toenails all across the Internet.
But not my fingers. Wait. Oh, never mind. It’s Friday. Let’s put all social posturing aside. Let’s forget about what’s appropriate, or what my fingernails signify about my social or professional class. I type too hard to keep nail polish on for longer than 36 hours. And the sight of the little ovals of color flashing about a keyboard distract me. There. A nugget of truth. Sometimes people of a certain age use antiquated versions of, “It’s not the done thing” as a way to reinforce personal preferences. And that is perhaps the most useful information of the day.
The color looks fab, by the way. Dignified, classic, a wee bit edgy. I could stick my feet into my light box and take a picture. Or not. Age brings a little wisdom*.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Images: me. And the usual light box.