Greige nail polish is everywhere. Lady Gaga wears it on her Vanity Fair cover, Rose Byrne wears it to the Emmys, Sandra Bullock wears it to the Golden Globes, yet greige suits them all perfectly.The color offers an elegant alternative to girly pinks and vampy reds. Sleek and modern enough to look edgy, greige also has the wearability to make it a classic. It flatters any skin tone and any length of nails. But what is it, exactly?
Greige is a fusion of gray and beige, often with a dab of plum or peach lurking in the mix. It may sound subdued to the point of being dull, but greige’s subtlety instead lends it depth and variety that a more well-defined color can’t match. The same color that looks purplish in daylight becomes a warm taupe hue in evening lighting. That versatility makes greige a good match with almost any color.
Even a subtle shade like greige has variations, though. Some greiges have a warmer undertone while others are cooler and veer more to the gray side of beige. Creamy formulas with no shimmer look the most modern while pearled versions of greige seem more casual. Lighter, putty-like shades of greige are wearable even at the most conservative offices; darker variations have all the dramatic punch of a classic merlot shade.
With neutral colors, anything goes on nails, but be careful wearing greige polish with reds and pinks. While matching nail polish to your clothing exactly is a practice that went out around the time Miami Vice went off the air, you do want to make sure you choose a greige that flatters what you’re wearing. Pale ballet pinks go well with lighter, cooler greige shades while red demands a darker, more complex shade of greige.
Another consideration when choosing the right greige is your own skin tone and how the color will work with it. Ruddy skin tones tend to go well with a warmer browned-out shade of greige; cooler greiges might emphasize the red in rubicund skin tones too much. Conversely, cool skin tones might find that a warm greige just looks like brown–not that there’s anything wrong with a good brown nail polish, but compared to a sophisticated greige, it feels one-note.
Chanel’s Particulière is the quintessential greige, but for those who prefer not to spend double-digit figures on a bottle of nail polish, OPI’s You Don’t Know Jacques nail lacquer is a near-match at a fraction of the price. Essie’s Chinchilly is a softer, paler take on greige. China Glaze’s FYI has holographic glimmer to go with its greigey goodness; it’s definitely worth a try if you like sparkle.
Greige has been around long enough to grow beyond a fad or even a trend. This sophisticated range of colors is here to stay.