Summer Do or Don’t: Dark Red Nail Polish

This past weekend, we spent a few hours at Coney Island, and my friend Shirim had dark red polish on her toes. I was really into that color last November, but never would have thought of it for a sunny day. But she paired it with a white swimsuit and gray dress and looked totally gorgeous.

Thoughts? Would you wear a sexy dark red in the summer?

P.S. More dos or don’ts.

(Photo by the Gore Princess)

  1. Laura Filshtein says...

    I love the color! I used to try to pick out a nail polish color that was “seasonal” and I always would go back to my favorite colors – Chinchilly and Wicked by Essie and Lincoln Park After Dark by OPI. :)

  2. I like the idea of a dark red nail on the fingers for summer…I usually do OPI Kennebunkport Red on my toes but lately have alternated some Essie hot coral shades…nails are always bare or light pink/nude. A dark red nail would be a fun deviation:)

  3. I’m wearing dark red right now :) I didn’t grow up in the States but now that I live here, I’m learning a lot of rules I never knew existed. But I just assume they don’t apply to me! haha!

  4. girl from portugal here.

    only recently have i been wearing coloured nails, as i’ve always been a transparent/pearl nail polish kind of girl. right now i’m wearing a dark fuchsia from and it goes well with everything. i’m not into neon (or blue/purple/black/brown) nail polish, so this colour, a coral red or even a light pink have been my choices.


  5. Anonymous says...

    I live in the tropics so if I had to wait for winter, I’d never be able to wear such colours! I love dark red on toe nails. I usually pair mine with a french manicure.

  6. Of course!! It’s always sexy! And there’s a lot of reds you can weare!

  7. I am a dark nail polish fan and I always have my doubts during the summer. I bought a beautiful red wine color recently and honestly can’t wait for the fall to come and jutify me wearing this shade :)

  8. First time reader this Saturday morning….I seem to get more compliments on my hands when I’m wearing Christmas red polish – all year long. My skin color must agree with the color. It makes me feel good to wear it.

  9. I agrre with you Jo, in summer I prefere bright colors, this summer I’m for mint and light blue

  10. Do? Don’t? How about “it’s just nail polish so wear whatever the hell you want.”

  11. Hate the dark reds for some reason, reminds me of a serious stern old woman. True red and just about every color in between and I’ll take it. I agree that shorter nails feel more classic and duh, help the polish last longer.

  12. I am totally into it! I believe it looks elegant and chic all year long. It’s just a classic. But… Would you do mismatching nail colors in hands and feet? I’m always wondering!


  13. Anonymous says...

    thanks for sharing.

  14. I put it on this morning! i dont think season appropriate exists anymore.

  15. ellebeth says...

    I saw two different people with their toes painted this exact red today… can do whatever you darn well please :)

  16. Of course they look beautiful, but definitely not for me. I love the manicured short and natural…with a busy schedule and lots of fun in the sun they seem to look good no matter the occasion!

  17. I personally would wear it on my toes but not on my hands in the summer (is that weird?!)

    but for the fall/winter, definitely on the hands- although I like much shorter nails with bright/dark colors.

  18. Yep! My toes and fingers are deep red right now. A few nails had broken so I cut them all. I like dark colors when my nails are short. When they’re longer I feel like Cruella or something.

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  20. erica l.s. says...

    I don’t think I like this? That’s whats fun about color to me, saving some for certain seasons! A very slight maybe- if paired with the right things.

  21. Any colour – Any time! Who cares what the season is? Colour should depend on your mood, not the season. It’s the middle of winter here in Australia and I’m wearing yellow nails. I need some fun in the grey days! Last week it was pastels :)

  22. Of course! Deep red is all I wear in the summer — with a tan, gold jewelry, and white denim nothing looks richer. Disclaimer though: I’m a dark brunette, the shade varies by coloring.

  23. When it comes to nail poslish, I don’t really care about seasons, it’s all about having fun. I definitely can’t sport blue hair at work, but blue nails is fun ! My two new faves right now are Butter’s london in British Racing Green and Chanel in blue boy

  24. Anonymous says...

    Nope, gotta say this is a don’t for summer. Bright red is good, but this shade (especially with a shimmer) says “holidays” to me.

  25. love the look – DO! :)

  26. I tend to be the opposite of which ever season it is. In the spring/summer I like darker colors. In the fall/winter, I tend to gravitate towards lighter, brighter colors.

    To me, it doesn’t matter what season it is. It tends to matter what mood I’m in

  27. I love dark polishes in summer. I always just wear the nail polish I want or feel like at that moment

  28. I’m rocking dark red polish on my toes this very minute. It flatters my skin tone, and judging from some of the comments here, it’s a totally unexpected color choice for the summer months. All the more reason for me to sport it, I say! Who wants to be like everybody else? :-)

  29. I don’t like this color on long nails, and it’s ok for summer but for some reason it seems sexier in winter? I like bright short nails and polka dot toes for summer <3

  30. Dark red polish is a never in my book. but to each her own i suppose ;)

  31. i have such pale skin that dark red nails look awful on me no matter what season it is, but i don’t think i could get on board with these for summer. i just like short and pink, sometimes coral. i guess it would depend on the person!

  32. Anonymous says...

    A couple days ago I painted my nails OPI’s “Oh To Be 25 Again”, a dark red/brown. I have been wearing nudes, bright pinks & corals all spring & summer but wanted to switch it up a bit. Dark nail lacquers are my favorite & I always feel more “polished” when wearing them. Great timing for your post, Joanna. :)

  33. On my toes? Sure! But on my fingers, I want something bright or soft … though I did just get these metallic nail polishes and am wearing them even though I think they’d look best in the Fall… :D

  34. i have to say, i have a lot of fun wearing dark nail polish in the summer, it really seems to off set the fun, neon color of the season. my dark color nails totally off sets my neon tank and coral shorts!

  35. meh… not the dark red.
    i’ll do black or dark grey sometimes in the summer if i want something more dramatic. and dark colors on my toes
    but i try to stick with fun colors. right now i have neon pink

  36. I think it’s a beautiful colour and could work all year round! Personally I would wear it more in winter and stick to brighter colours in summer, but I still think it’s fine to wear in any season :)

    Kate {Modette}

  37. Red is my favorite color on nails… I use it every time I want to feel sexy and elegant ;)

  38. Find what works and stick with it. Dark nails all year round for me.

  39. nah…
    there’s just so many other patterns, combinations and colors I’d rather experiment with.

  40. MG says...

    I’m wearing dark red on my toes right now too but my fingers are bare to balance it out. My fav dark red is hands down Deborah Lippmann’s Bitches Brew.

  41. Dark red to me never really seemed like a summer color. It seems more fall and wintery, something that ought to be paired with gray flannels and thick fuzzy knits.

    However, after hearing how your friend Shirim paired her dark red nail polish with a white swimsuit and gray dress, I may have had my mind changed. The contrast between the depth of the red and the light airiness of the white probably created the perfect summer outfit!

    Scratch what I said before.
    Dark red is a perfect summer color!
    Now I may need to go try it out :)


  42. You’re right! When I saw the photo, I thougt ‘Hm, looks like something from F/W 11… but when I read how it could be paired with the white swimsuit and the grey dress, it seemed very summer!

  43. I love this colour, year ’round and I LOVE the shape of her nails. I don’t think they are too long at all.

  44. I think it is totally okay! But, because it is darker wear light and airy things like your friend did.

  45. Looks a bit vampy to me, but in the fall I’d do it on short nails

  46. My I’m traditional but I prefer this colour in the fall/winter although I’ll wear brights year round.

  47. Anne says...

    Although this screams autumn/winter to me, I would totally try it with an otherwise all white or a nautical outfit to chic-en it up.

  48. Yes! On both toes and fingers is ok, I think. Especially now, late summer, I’m a little bored of these neons and high saturated colors. Dark red at this time is unexpected.

  49. Hmm really unexpected for summer, but it’s a beautiful color year round! Would love it much more for fall though!

  50. Toes, yes fingers – no… Unless it’s for an evening out.

  51. I’m wearing it right now and I think it looks fabulous. that’s all that matters anyway!

  52. This is an ongoing debate at this blog. One of us loves summer colors, the other one hates them and would, if she could, wear nothing but jewel tones and black all year long. Oh wait …she does that.

  53. Anonymous says...

    I personally live by the mantra of light in the summer dark in the winter and fall because of the colors I wear. It doesn’t look right. But I will do like royal blue toes in the winter its the color and how it makes your hands and feet look that is key

  54. it’s my opinion that red, any red, is always a good idea :)

  55. In SF it’s gray and cloudy foggy cold anyway so of course but really this isn’t the 50’s where one has to match their handbag to their shoes so why not wear this color year round.

  56. I say “meh”
    I think bright colors are more summer like and bring out a tan beautifully…

    I personally wear Opi Vodka and Caviar at the beginning of summer and then switch to something brighter and a bit more orange once I get a bit of tan

  57. Living in the city and being a practical girl, dark polish covers multiple toe nail sins if you wear sandals!!!!!! ;)

  58. Love it, but the nails need to be short. Interestingly, I can’t imagine wearing traditional summer colors in winter…

  59. Crystal says...

    Toes, yes. Fingers, no. And ditto the comment about the darker, bolder, more unique colors looking better on shorter nails. I wear dark or bright or “fun” colors on my toes and neutrals (if any) on my fingers.

  60. Anonymous says...

    Don’t. Much too mature & serious. I’d do this only if I was about 55+ and then only in the fall.

  61. jes says...

    I think it’s perfect year-round.

  62. I love that color, but personally, I LOVE bright colors for summer. Granted, in FLorida where it is sunny most of the year, I rarely bust out wintery nail polish colors ever. Maybe for a few weeks, but I will always go back to my favorite coral color.

  63. I have bright beautiful OPI Big City Apple on my toes & it looks great. I don’t think I’d go for the dark red on fingers right now. The combination of red, gray, & white is lovely, though.

  64. It’s very nice color,but I prefer bright color in the summer :)

  65. Essie “Wicked” is a year-round staple for me. My nails are short so it works!

  66. Definitely a no for me. I can’t pull off dark colors in makeup at all. I’m too pale and fair skinned for that.

  67. Hmm, this one is tough. I guess it’s a matter of what’s flattering with your coloring and what’s seasonal. Personally, I’ll wait until the winter months to break out the darker shades – but red is such a classic that I think you can get away with it now. There’s something very summery about a bright poppy tomato red …

  68. I have red on my toes at the moment, pillar box red, but wouldn’t put it on my fingers. I’m all up for watermelon or mint or taupe on my fingers at the moment.

  69. Red or dark red, doesn’t matter what color. It’s always good!

  70. wear*** too early

  71. Do! I say where whatever colors you like when you like. It’s really all about your skin tone and it kind of looks fun to contrast the seasons

  72. Elis says...

    I like to go totally crazy with my nail colors in the summer. I’ve been doing an awesome Kelly green by Essie- Mojito Madness

  73. Yep! Spoke at a conference in June and totally rocked the red nail polish AND red heels. Sexy has no season.

  74. I’m not really fan. This color screams “LEAVES!” :) Perfect for Fall.
    Eat Cake

  75. I love it, I have smaller nails that I think look better with darker polishes. Deep reds, blues, and black are my favorites!

  76. I would say it’s a do, but then I don’t really follow colour trends too closely anyway!

  77. I’d probably wear this more for in the Fall and Winter still I think, and on way shorter nails! I don’t think long nails can get away with red anymore… A brighter red for Summer might be better!

  78. I completely agree, dark colors are sexy and classy on the toes and short nails.

  79. Anonymous says...

    I agree with the shorter nails. This color paired with long nails is a little too 90’s for me.

  80. I think personally would be best worn in the fall/.winter season.

  81. I like it, but I also prefer it on shorter nails (like in the picture you link to from last fall). The longer nails look a bit vampy!

  82. Throughout the year I just rotate my colours between bright and dark. And since I tend to wear more colourful outfits in warmer weather, it’s more neutral and less likely to clash!

  83. This screams morticia to me, but I wear black nails from time to time.

  84. Anonymous says...

    Season-appropriate shades? Please. Wear whatever color you want, whenever you want.

    Just because of this, I’m going to go home and paint my nails navy blue.

  85. Just the other day I decided to go with last fall’s favorite Rouge Noir by Chanel when painting my nails… perhaps I was feeling extra sultry? Paired with a light sundress and sandals, I think it looks great!

  86. Anonymous says...

    That’s a big no :) I only do season appropriate shades for my nails!

  87. I’ve been wearing “Chinchilly” by Essie all summer, a really pretty matte grey color, but just got a pedicure and decided on a matte deep reddish brown. I think it’s fun! It pairs well with colored sandals–because the polish is understated the shoes pop.


  88. you’re right, anonymous — i think dark red (or black, etc.) looks best on short, square nails. you don’t want to look too Cruella de Vil:)

  89. Anonymous says...

    The color is pretty year-round, but it would look a lot more modern/fashionable on a shorter nail shape!

  90. Yep, I have no problem wearing bright yellow in winter either though.