Putting her yoga mat down next to mine, she looked down at my bare feet and said something like, “you’re wild and adventurous.” Ha!
I looked at my toes and didn’t see one iota of wildness. I saw a lovely shade of blue. I’m not 100% certain but I think it’s OPI’s I Vant To Be A-Lone Star. Part of the Texas collection. I definitely can relate.
Oh, the blue nail polish conundrum. You would think that two women of a certain age would have better things to talk about then the choice of nail polish color on one’s piggly wigglies. But no, talk we did.
She: “I work in Corporate America, I could never wear blue toe nail polish.”
Me: “I felt like being brave. And, mostly when I’m with clients I’m not wearing open-toed shoes. Well, maybe some peek-a-boo wedges and usually just on Fridays.”
She: “I guess it depends what kind of company you work for. I work for a very conservative company. I could never wear blue.”
Me: “I definitely thought about it. I wondered if blue is too much a young woman’s color? And finally I decided, what’s wrong with blue? “
I probably said this a bit defensively but I was feeling a bit defensive. These were my toes and my choice of color. Being age appropriate is always at the forefront of my thinking. No Demi Moore bikini selfies for me. For that matter, no bikinis for me.
Fortunately, at this juncture in our conversation it was time to hit the barre and do some relevés.
What my real issue is that I find it absolutely ridiculous that someone in New York, London or Paris is making decisions about what colors are appropriate or not appropriate for a grown woman to wear to work. It’s just color. It’s not a skin tight skirt. It’s not a low cut blouse. It’s not six-inch stilettos.
It’s a nail polish color. Why on earth is a pink an appropriate nail polish color when a pale blue isn’t? I simply can’t find a logical reason for it.
I like nail polish. I’ve worn it for years. And it seems to me the issue should be color or plain nails. Not pink or blue. Once you say it’s okay to put color on your nails how do you conclude that some colors are okay and some aren’t?
It makes my head spin. It is so silly.
You’d think that Corporate America would have issues with red polish. Red represents so many things that are not typically pro-business: Communism.Sex.Anger. And yet, red polish is a safe color. Just dandy. Wear it any day. Every day. You’re good.
According to the empower yourself with color psychology.com, blue is the color of truth. It is the most popular color in the world, and it represents predictability- it is neither impulsive or spontaneous. Characteristics that businesses say they embrace.
So just how did things get so turned around that red is acceptable and blue polish is shunned? A little history.
Blue polish has been around for awhile. According to Style Bistro fringe groups wore different shades of blue dating back to the 60’s. However, it wasn’t until the 90’s when some fashion guru got the brilliant idea that women’s lips and nails colors didn’t have to match (What a relief!) that additional nail colors started popping up. Style Bistro has the entire Blue Polish history, if you are so inclined to read.
We can thank David Letterman for speeding up the popularity of blue polish. According to my good friend
Wikipedia, in 1995 Alicia Silverstone came on the The Late Show With David Letterman sporting blue nails. He asked her about the color and she shared she was wearing Hard Candy’s Sky. That’s all she had to say. The brand new nail polish brand exploded. The blues were here.
I distinctly remember thinking at the time that it was a young girl’s color and that I was definitely not their target audience.It wasn’t until Michelle Obama wore a shade of grey polish at the 2012 National Democratic Convention that I decided I could venture into the land of non-traditional nail polish colors. And yes, I started with a lovely lilac grey.
For the most part, I still stick with traditional colors for my hands and venture into more on trend colors for my toes simply because that ridiculous fashion tyrant has done his job and I am as brainwashed as the rest when it comes to dressing norms.
In my more rational moments, I know it’s just a color. In different circumstances you couldn’t get more conservative than wearing blue. Think of a blue- pinstriped suit. Or a navy jacket over a pair of khaki pants. Or navy pumps. Blue is a beloved color. There is nothing radical about it.
There shouldn’t be anything radical about wearing blue nail polish.
And yet, if you check out many fashion blogs, they will tell you that blue nail polish at work is a no-va. Here is just one comment from a post on corporette.com about appropriate nail colors in the workplace.
I coach college students on interview skills and I suggest neutral, naturals or the calm pinks and reds. I was a part of a hiring committee a few years ago at a CPA firm…. one of the candidates had on a light blue polish and in the recap meeting at the end of her day of interviews… every woman in the room had her nail polish color in their notes… not that it was bad just that it was noticed.
In my fantasy, I imagine that the women wrote notes about the blue polish because they wanted a reminder to pick that color the next time they have a manicure. Or better yet, they made a note that this bright, energetic, young woman with leadership qualities is just what their office needs because she is willing to break silly rules and dares anyone to judge her on superficial issues.
In my fantasy, they applaud her for having the courage they do not have.
…we have to admit that for most of us here, Florence Gordon’s world is the world of our grandmothers. We love our grandmothers, and we’re thankful to them, but we don’t want to be them. When I look around this room, at the faces of the women of my generation, I see women who want to express all the different sides of themselves. There are times when we want to speak out against the injustices of the world. And there are times when we want to put on stilettos and a little black dress and find a party.