Nails for the Office — What's Appropriate in 2023? –

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young professional woman holds coffee cup; she has short red nails

We haven’t discussed nails in a long while — what are your thoughts on nails for the office? Are there any rules in 2023? Are there any lengths, colors, or decorations that are perhaps not appropriate for every office — or any that would raise eyebrows on Zoom? If someone paid zero attention to their nails, would it affect your opinion on whether they were “polished”? (How do these responses change if we’re considering interview nails?!)

As I’ve said before… I have (at least since my teens) kept very short nails… if they are slightly long they annoy me while typing. (YES, I even have scraggly cuticles, which are probably not ideal, but I truly think aren’t really visible unless you’re about six inches away from my nails.) I grew my nails long for my wedding, and before that got weekly manicures for the first few weeks after I was engaged. I just don’t enjoy the process of manicures very much, nor do I enjoy the chipped polish that seems to happen after a few days.

On the flip side, I know some women have long, curving nails, with all sorts of fun designs and even gemstones and the like embedded in their nails. I actually love the creative designs and details on other people, but the length gets to me. Overly long nails always, always make me wonder how the heck the person buttons their pants, let alone types for more than a few minutes.

The last time we discussed work-appropriate nails (in 2017!), one reader had an excellent point that what is “appropriate” is highly regional.

From what I am tell, nails are regional. Really, specifically regional. There are areas here in the NY suburbs where most well-dressed woman have longish (likely acrylic) nails. In Manhattan, a weekly professional application of Mademoiselle or Ballet Slippers on a natural nail was standard. When I lived in rural PA, manicures were for special occasions, mostly. I guess my point is that what reads “stripper” in Muhlenberg looks standard in Massapequa.

But I also wonder how much social media has made it more generational as well as regional — after all, if lots of 20-somethings are watching TikTokers with long, creative nails, does that now look “standard” to them?

What are your thoughts, readers? How do you personally keep your nails? What, if any, nails would make you raise an eyebrow at the office? (Outside the office, such as on Zoom calls, would anything raise an eyebrow?)

(How do the nail rules change for interviews? Interestingly, the reader favorites for interviews — Ballet Slippers, Mademoiselle, and Sugar Daddy (all by Essie) — are all still available years later.

Stock photo via Stencil.