9 Nail Colors That Go With Everything, According To A Manicurist

You might think you're a good decision-maker but no one would blame you for hesitating — even panicking — when faced with a nail color wheel at the salon. Should you go for Barbie pink or vanilla chrome? Milk bath nails or lip gloss nails? To be real, choosing the right shade is by no means the most difficult choice you'll ever make but post-manicure regret is a thing and the abundance of hues can be a little daunting.
There's a lot to consider. Will Aperol orange suit your skin tone? Does the French fade work best on short or long nails? Then there's the question of how you dress. While color clashing is more of a trend than a faux pas (see: red and pink), figuring out which shades will complement your aesthetic is no small feat.
To save you humming and hawing in the salon chair, we asked nail artist and session manicurist Ami Streets for her tips. Here are the nine nail polish colors that go with absolutely everything.

Blueberry Milk Nails

Blueberry milk is the blue jeans of nail colors, as nail artist and content creator Amber proves here. "This beautiful, baby blue color takes inspiration from its predecessor, the milky manicure," says Ami. "A pale tint of pastel blue [mixed into] a sheer, creamy shade makes this a unique tone." Streets says that this viral nail color trend works perfectly for summer but the soft, icy hue will also add contrast to darker outfits and transition well into the winter months. It's so versatile that Streets asked for the shade to be mixed up for her a few years ago, as it wasn't sold in stores.
Whip up your own custom shade using a sheer white, like Essie Nail Polish in Pre-Show Jitters, and a glossy blue, like Lottie London Plant Based Gel Effect Polish in Feeling Myself. Or, apply one coat of a full-coverage blue, like CND Creekside or OPI Raindrop Expectations, followed by a top coat for a look that's similar to this one by nail artist Alexandra Teleki.

Vibrant Red

This is the ultimate classic manicure color, says Streets. Take inspiration from London pro nail artist Julia Diogo on Instagram. "Red adds vibrancy to your manicure or pedicure and works well all year round, from summer vacations [where it complements a sun-kissed glow] to the holiday season." Picking the right shade of red can also add a rich contrast to your skin tone, says Streets. "Blue-based reds suit paler skin tones," like Essie Expressie Nail Polish in Seize The Minute. "Orange-based reds are best for those with a more olive or warmer complexion," adds Streets. Try Manucurist Coral Reef or the perennial classic Essie Clambake.


"Surprisingly, lilac is universally flattering on all skin tones," says Streets, who thinks the shade has a playful energy to it. Variations on the pastel hue have gone viral this year, including "digital lavender" (lilac with a chrome overlay) and "milky lavender" (a sheer take on the color).

Earthy Taupe

Taupe is a truly versatile neutral, says Streets, but experiment with other earthy tones like olive, moss ,and rust to figure out which best complements your individual skin tone and matches your mood. "Go darker and choose delicious chocolate brown to add depth and richness," says Streets, like Orly Breathable Nail Polish in Double Espresso. "Or, select taupe for a sleek and modern-looking manicure." Try Zoya Rowan or Londontown Café Au Lait. Taupe tips, as seen on luxury manicurist Lois Samantha, are a subtle alternative to a wash of color.

Rouge Noir

Rouge noir occupies a comfortable space between jet black and vibrant red. Though the brooding hue is often associated with autumn and winter, its red nuances really pop in sunlight. "Opulent deep rouges are a decadent choice for a sophisticated nail look," says Streets. "This cult color has reached iconic status over the years, having been featured in classic films and on various catwalks. It remains highly requested as a suits-all statement shade."
This shade posted to Instagram by Peggy Nails is perfect. Chanel Le Vernis Nail Color in Rouge Noir hits the nail on the head. Also try Dior Vernis in Nuit and CND Vinylux Long Wear Polish in Dark Dahlia. It's best worn ultra-glossy so throw on a gel-effect top coat like Essie Gel Couture Clear Top Coat.

Sheer Pink

If milk bath nails are a little too understated for you but you want to keep things simple, try sheer pink. "Barely there, nude shades make all nails look well groomed and expensive," says Streets. "The hint of pink enhances the natural undertone of nails and camouflages any imperfections, resulting in brighter, healthy-looking nails with a high shine," just like these nails by Julie Dovolis.
R29 editors recommend Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish in Inside Scoop, Beauty Pie Le Milk, or Sally Hansen Pink Cloud. When it comes to sheer shades like this, you might need a total of three coats. To further add shine start with a strengthening base coat like OPI Nail Envy.

Jet Black

"Black polish is always in style and instantly adds an edge to any ensemble," says Streets. Just keep nails short and chic. "Choose a luxe, highly pigmented formula for a bold, high-shine manicure," Streets adds. R29 editors love OPI Nail Polish in Lady in Black, Ella and Mila Lights Out, and Gucci Vernis à Ongles Nail Polish in Crystal Black.

Iridescent Pastel

"Metallic-effect nail polish can work with any outfit; it adds subtle interest and dimension compared to standard colors," says Streets. She particularly recommends choosing opalescent polishes in sparkling pale or pastel shades as these are a softer, more minimalist option. These nails by Mina are a great example. "Colors like these are a contemporary update to a traditional metallic, chrome, or glitter manicure," adds Streets.
Try Nails Inc. Plant Power Nail Polish in Glowing Somewhere, which lends an oyster shell effect, Cirque Colors Anchors Away for mermaid vibes, or Tenoverten Coney Island, which is a new summer shade with glitter stas mixed in. Just one coat is enough to lend nails a gauzy finish.

Overcast Nails

When layered, this semi-sheer gray polish is reminiscent of the opacity of clouds, says Streets. If you want more of an opaque finish, take inspiration from Julia, who calls this shade "licorice soft serve." Try OPI Nail Lacquer in It’s Ashually OPI or Sally Hansen Namas-Grey with a drop of the aforementioned baby blue.
This story was originally published on Refinery29UK.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

More from Nails

R29 Original Series