Nails for the Office — What’s Available in 2023?


young professional woman holds coffee cup;  has short red nails

We haven’t talked about nails in a long time – what do you think of nails for the office? Are there any rules in 2023? Are there lengths, colors, or decorations that don’t suit every office or that stand out on Zoom? If someone hadn’t paid any attention to their nails, would it affect your opinion of whether they were “polished”? (How do these answers change if we consider interview quotes?!)

As I said before… (since my youth at least) I have very short nails… if they are a bit long they make me uncomfortable when I write. (YES, I even have rough cuticles, which is probably not ideal, but I think they aren’t really visible unless they’re about six inches from my nails.) I grew my nails long for my wedding, and before that the first few weeks after I got engaged, a weekly manicure. I don’t really enjoy the manicure process, and I don’t like the chipped polish that shows up after a few days either.

On the other hand, I know some women have long, curved nails, all sorts of fun designs and even gemstones embedded in their nails and the like. I actually like the creative designs and details on other people, but the length comes to me. Overly long fingernails always make me wonder how one buttoned their pants, let alone typing for more than a few minutes.

the last time we argued nails for work (in 2017!) A reader made an excellent point that “appropriate” is pretty regional.

As far as I’ve heard, nails are regional. Really, especially regional. There are areas in suburban NY where most well-dressed women have long (possibly acrylic) nails. In Manhattan, the weekly professional application of Mademoiselle or Ballet Slippers on a natural nail was standard. When I lived in rural PA, manicures were mostly for special occasions. I guess what I mean is that what says “stripper” in Muhlenberg seems standard in Massapequa.

But I’m also wondering how generational and territorial social media has made it – after all, if so many people in their 20s watch TikTokers with long, creative quotes, does that seem “standard” to them anymore?

What are your thoughts readers? How do you personally hold your nails? Which nail, if any, will make you brow at the office? (Out of the office, in Zoom conversations, for example, does anything raise an eyebrow?)

(How are nail rules changing for interviews? Interestingly, readers’ favorites for interviews — ballet slippers, MademoiselleAnd sweet daddy (all by Essie) – all still available years later.

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Stock photo via stencil.


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