I Swear These Strategic Nail Polish Colors Never Clash With Any of My Outfits


(Image credit: @erin_jahns)

I've always been obsessed with nail polish, and ever since my parents started letting me wear it (my dad, the more artistic one, would paint my nails while I sat stone-still in his lap at the age of three), I've felt naked without it. 

Even though I like to keep my makeup MO pretty tame and neutral, I've never been afraid to give my nails the limelight. No color—from neon green to hot pink—has ever been off-limits. As I've gotten older, however, my palette has become a little more discerning, and more often than not, I choose nail polish colors that are versatile and will go with pretty much everything I wear. Curious to see which hues I reach for the most? Below are seven strategic nail colors that never clash and that I've found to go with pretty much everything. Keep scrolling!

Shades of Mushroom


(Image credit: @imarninails.com)

Call it mushroom or call it taupe, but any nail polish color that falls in between brown and grey is a member of the goes-with-everything club. There's a spectrum of options. For instance, Peaceful Paranoia by Smith & Cult below adds a little bit of pinky-purple iridescence to the mix, but the shade range offers a fresher take on a ho-hum neutral and will never clash with your outfit. 

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Anything Salty


(Image credit: @themaniclub)

One of my all-time versatile nail polish shades is Himalayan Salt from J.Hannah. (Which, yes, you can shop below!) It's the perfect pinky-peachy tan situation, and I've found it to be one of the most universally flattering shades in my disgustingly large collection of nail polish bottles. A pure salty white, or an even deeper red salt hue, also work here.

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Sheer with Sparkle


(Image credit: @themaniclub)

French manicures, baby pinks, tans, and other earthy tones are an obvious choice when I want something minimal, but lately, I've had sheer polishes with subtle, light-catching shimmer on repeat. I've been getting the gel shade called Oyster at my favorite nail spot in L.A., MiniLuxe (the shimmer is a little iridescent with hints of pink and purple), and it earns me so many compliments. I'm always surprised that people take note so quickly even though it's subtle! If you want something you can do at home, I recommend something like The Shimmer from Tenoverten, Ghost Rose from Cirque, or Pearly Tops from Harry Styles' beauty brand, Pleasing.

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Dance Class


(Image credit: @betina_goldstein)

It's no secret that a certain ballet-themed polish from Essie (cough, Ballet Slippers), has become one of the most iconically wearable nail polish colors of all time. You just can't go wrong with a baby-pink shade, but there's definitely a spectrum of colors that will flatter differently depending on your taste and skin tone. Any of the below will blend flawlessly with any outfit aesthetic.

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Coffee, Please


(Image credit: @browngirlhands)

I've sworn by the versatility of brown nail polish for years and years and am so happy the shade is becoming increasingly popular amongst our fave nail polish brands. I personally find any hue—from copper and cinnamon to nearly black—to be a cooler take on other fan-favorite neutrals like gray or even black. (Although, I do love a jet black nail which I'll get to in a second.) Again, you can't really go wrong here, and I guarantee any brown nail polish shade you wear will pair seamlessly with your look.

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Dark Shadows


(Image credit: @amyle.nails)

As I said, I love a black nail-polish look not only during the colder months of the year but also at any time of the year. (Black in the summertime is a plot twist I very much encourage!) The hue goes with everything (obviously) which makes it one of the most versatile colors in world of polishes. If subtle isn't your typical MO but you don't want your nails to clash, I definitely recommend black, and if you're someone who likes a little bit of sparkle in your life, choose a black polish with some shimmer.

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Make it Mauve


(Image credit: @themaniclub)

If you're not already riding the mauve nail train, now's a good time to board. Thanks to its signature gray undertones, it's more wearable than, say a bubblegum or neon pink, but it also makes a little bit more of a statement compared to a ballet pink. Just be sure to choose a shade that flatters your skin tone, and you'll be good to go.

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Next: We Identified the 9 It Nail Colors for 2022, and Yep, They're Ridiculously Good

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.