Nailing It: A Love Story

Black and pink nails with kitten paw prints, for WORN’s Black Cat Ball

Here’s a story I probably should not tell: my laptop, which was really my boyfriend’s old laptop, recently became obsolete. It was technically a fully functional MacBook Pro, but it was so old that it could not do the things that we now regard as necessary for Internet use i.e. watch any sort of video player, open zip files, and so on and so forth. Even though I knew it was time for a new laptop I kept resisting—Apple products are really fucking expensive, you guys, and I’m cheap about that sort of thing. Put a pair of Alexander Wang shoes in front of me and I’m all, “Yeah, that makes sense,” but try to get me to buy a piece of high quality equipment that I will use every day, professionally and personally, and I’m all, “I don’t know, let me make a pro/con list.”

So: My boyfriend finds a beautiful refurbished MacBook for an amazing price on the online Apple store and wants me to just buy it. I am hemming and hawing and checking and re-checking my bank accounts until I am hit with a realization—my old laptop was bought in 2005, which means it never had a camera. This one was made in 2010. “AH,” I yell like a banshee, “I CAN TAKE PICTURES OF MY NAILS ON THIS COMPUTER. BUY IT, BUY IT BUY IT, BUY IT.”"

This story is 100 per cent true—the prospect of being able to easily photograph my nail art and share it with my friends (IRL and Tumblr) persuaded me to purchase my laptop when no amount of sensible discussion could. In the past year I have developed an obsession with painting my nails. My favourite is a pale lavender colour, but I have tried neons, dark jewel tones, and classy neutrals. I’ve attempted all sorts of patterns—symmetrical lines, patriotic flags, colour gradations. My favourites are leopard print and roses. I’ve experimented with stickers (the cheaper Sally Hansen ones are superior to the more expensive Sephora ones, FYI). I’ve tried different top-coats to achieve matte or extra shiny finishes. I’ve purchased specialty brushes and sponges for the more advanced designs. And I have no idea why.

I used to never paint my nails. Really, I just couldn’t be bothered. It seemed like too much upkeep. I was still deep in my “I-just-rolled-out-of-bed-with-what-happens-to-be-glowing-skin” phase. No lip colour, no eyeshadow, eyeliner only on very special occasions and even then just a tight black line as close to my lashes as possible. I spent a lot of time and money making sure that I looked like I had spent no time or money, which is just weird.

The greatness I aspire to.

I think the reason I’ve become so obsessed with nail art has a lot to do with how bad I am at it. I’m not a very creative person, and I can’t just whip off an amazing design. I’d love to do the kind of nail art that Mahban Ryude does—seriously, check out her website, her work is crazy amazing—but I lack the steady hands and artistic inclinations.

Nail art is work for me. And it is work that requires me to abandon my Blackberry, my new laptop, my notebook full of to-do lists… are you seeing a pattern here? Concentrating on nail art (and maybe an episode of Gilmore Girls in the background) is my time away from real work. I’m only thinking about the task at hand—pun intended—which gives my brain the time it needs to recharge. Perfection isn’t the goal here, like I sometimes feel it is with my actual job; it’s about trying something new. A second chance is only a swipe of nail polish remover away.

I don’t think I’m going to become a full time nail artist any time soon. Eventually I’ll probably find another hobby (yoga? baking? skydiving?) and move on. But for now, it’s my favorite way to relax.


Cupcakes, Cocktails, and Nails
My BFF, Laura Hopf, and I have a Tumblr devoted to our nails and the nail art that inspires us.

Mahban Ryude
The most amazing hand painted nails you will ever see.

Refinery 29 and FASHION Magazine
Nail art tutorials like woah.

text by Haley Mlotek

8 thoughts on “Nailing It: A Love Story

  1. “Concentrating on nail art (and maybe an episode of Gilmore Girls in the background) is my time away from real work.”

    you just described me. great article!

  2. great post! you’ve inspired me to find something that relaxes me. “i can’t answer the phone right now, I’m having “jenny time”.”

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