2020's nail trend of the year: Here's why Ansel Elgort, Harry Styles, and more are getting manicures
Born and bred a true-blue Singaporean male, I grew up having a narrow view of what life was supposed to be. You study hard, play some sports, finish university, find a wife, land a job, have a couple of kids along the way — well, you get my drift. Things took a turn when I managed to land myself a spot in Tembusu College, my university accomodation.
Tembusu was, in every sense, different. You met people from all walks of life, with different backgrounds, stories, and peculiar personalities. I was at this house party once, and I had my very first interaction with a trans woman. We shared on our respective life experiences, our hobbies, and what made us feel alive. As the conversation went on, I realised that life isn't all black and white. Society doesn't have to follow a strict set of rules, especially when it comes to self-expression. I was ignorant that the world had so much more to offer —and that there were no true binaries in life.
Forgive the long introduction, but it was through my exposure in Tembusu that I've learned to embrace and be curious about a variety of subject matters, especially in relation to issues surrounding gender, sexuality, sex and feminism. One thing stood out the most, at the time, was that my heterosexual friend, Stuart, had all his fingernails painted jet black.
It was hard not to notice — and he knew that it was the elephant in the room. However, nobody took any offence towards it, nor did it make any one in the room feel uncomfortable — we all expected it given his eccentric personality. It was equal parts a fashion choice and a statement that he made, a proclaimation that gender lines have been blurred in 2020. Men all over had liberty to empower themselves and be open to new ideals of beauty and style.
Chanel has taken it a step further with the expansion of its 'Boy de Chanel' makeup line for men. With the fashion world continuing to debunk age-old traditions by ripping up the rule book when it comes to gender, menicure's (yes, we just coined that) are the latest trend for men championing androgynous and gender fluid expression. So when Ansel Elgort showed up wearing white nail polish with his velvet tuxedo at the Golden Globes, I didn’t bat an eye. He’s been part of the Menicure Movement for a while, along with other stylish male celebrities like Harry Styles and A$AP Rocky. Much like David Bowie and Kurt Cobain before them, these gentlemen aren't trailblazers per se, but they can appreciate a good colored ‘cure.
It's too soon to tell if this is a full-on movement or a passing fad, but it has reached a point where nail polish brand Essie is launching their line of quick-dry polishes targeted to all genders. New York City-based nail salon Sundays Studio also now promotes “menicure mondays.”
Well it's easy to see why these male celebrities have been rocking and flaunting their claws all over Hollywood — they're on top of the world, whatever they say, do, touch, turns to gold. It begs the question; will I be able to rock these boldly coloured fingernails down the streets of Orchard Road, without feeling insecure, or have the fear that I'm being judged at the back of my mind? More so, would all types of Singaporean men be able to rock the look, or did I have to fall within a certain category of gender?
The key, it seems, lies in your personal psyche — the less you care the better. It goes with any other style choice men have made in the past, from bleached hair to "feminine" tattoos — just own it. Own that fact that by painting your nails, you’re automatically putting yourself in a higher echelon of style that’s open to anyone who takes the leap. If you're still feeling uneasy within your own skin but open to trying it out, opt for a more muted colour such as black or navy blue that is easy to match with a myriad of outfits. For those feeling extra bold, go ham with it — neon, gel, even patterned ones, the world is your oyster.
So yes to answer the question, the common man on Orchard Road would definitely notice your nails. It would definitely raise a few eyebrows here and there. Men in Singapore are definitely accustomed to grooming products such as serums, cleansers, and beard oils, but perhaps might blanch at the sight of painted digits. Still, I stand by the statement that one shouldn't be afraid to express yourself, especially in a world where gender lines and rules of style are being constantly re-invented.