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20 Reasons Your Nails Will Look *So Cute* This Fall

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If your mental mood boards for fall are only full of chunky knit sweaters, cowboy-inspired boots, and that layered haircut you’re contemplating—you’re doing it wrong. No fall fit is complete without some truly epic nail art. But if you’re anything like us, a trip to the nail salon (even a DIY nail art mani at home) starts with an hour-long, indecisive scroll to find just the right design. And even then, how do you know if you made the right choice? That’s where we come in. We curated our top 20 nail art ideas for fall that will leave your fingers the envy of everyone you meet. Keep scrolling and get ready to screenshot.

1. ‘90s Plaid Nails

Close-up of a model's hands with yellow and black plaid nail art holding a white mug

The ‘90s are back in a major way! We’re talking dad jeans, slip dresses, and bucket hats. We even heard the Rachel haircut is making a comeback. As for our nails, we’re all about this Clueless-inspired plaid print. To get the look, start with a base of bold yellow, then using a striping brush (a skinny brush with long bristles) and black and white nail polish, create the plaid pattern over top.

2. French Manicure 2.0

Close-up of a model's hand with nude French tips nail art touching her lips

Speaking of ‘90s trends, the French manicure is trending, too—and we’re obsessed. For a modern take on the design, keep your nails in an almond or oval shape, and take the white French tip a little further down your nail bed then your natural tips. It would even look cool with a matte base.

3. Purple Party

The multicolored mani is nothing new, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a fresh spin for fall. Grab all your purple polishes, swiping a different color on each nail. The rich nail colors create a cozy color palette that will look fire paired with your fall wardrobe.

4. Abstract Drips

The perfectly imperfect color splotches and patterns are exactly why we’re so in love with this abstract nail look. The best part? It’s super easy to recreate at home using the bottle brushes that come with your polishes (no special tools needed). Just start creating blobs, layering colors as you go. There’s no wrong way to do it.

5. Sliving Shimmer

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If we had our way, we’d never come across a live snake IRL. But faux snake print accessories and nail art? We’re totally here for it. The gold shimmer base with beige accents gives an unexpectedly soft color palette to the harsh lines.

6. Hand in the Clouds

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Sunny days might be few and far between in the fall, but this mani serves as a reminder of the blue skies to come. Check out our nail art tutorial above to see how you can get this nail look at home.

7. Sticker Book

The easiest way to achieve DIY nail art: nail stickers. Start with a solid base (we love the high impact contrast between the black shimmer base and stickers in this look), then pop on stickers wherever you’d like. Lock in your look with a layer or two of top coat.

8. Marble Dip

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The award for the most satisfying fall nail art goes to this water dip marble look. It does require a bit of cleanup with some remover and a nail art brush, but the crisp design and organic shapes are 100 percent worth the work.

9. Rose Quartz

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Meet the new marble mani. Rose quartz is pretty and soft, and we can’t get over the beautiful rose gold foil accents in this look. Plus, if it’s anything like the real-life rose quartz crystal, we’ll take all the healing and love we can get.

10. Taxi Time

With nail art this fun and kitschy, you’ll have no problem hailing a cab even during rush hour. Start with a taxi cab yellow base (it’s more of an orange-y yellow), then paint a few white blobs across the edges. Make sure that the white base is dry before you go in with a detailer brush and black polish to paint little diamonds to create the checkerboard pattern.

11. Groovy Swirls

A lot of ‘90s trends were inspired by the ‘70s, so it makes sense that we’re seeing a lot of ‘70s-inspired fashion and beauty this fall, too. Keep your colors in the muted yellow and brown color families, and all your swirls and smiley faces will look straight out of That ‘70s Show.

12. Heart Swap

Pink and green is the unexpected color combo we didn’t know we needed. And when paired with this yin yang-like heart design, it’s unmatched.

13. Got Dots

Grab your dotting tools (or the eraser end of a pencil) and get to stamping. Bonus points if you pair this dotted mani with circular jewelry and accessories, too.

14. Micro Mani

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For every manicure maximalist, there’s a nail art minimalist, and this micro mani accent is for them. It’s an easy and chic way to elevate your go-to nude nails, yet it’s still understated.

15. Dark Digits

This design gets us super excited for spooky season. Unlike obvious Halloween nail art designs, this is just dark enough to work for your nine to five as it does for all your Halloween parties.

16. Sharp Shapes

According to architects, triangles are among the strongest shapes, which is why you often see them in building construction and bridges. But according to us, triangles are also one of the coolest nail art shapes. Stack them in different designs over a clear base for this negative space, abstract look. 

17. Chrome Cuticles

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This look is like a reverse French manicure, keeping all the design at the cuticle rather than the tip of the nails. But the dotted crescent shape makes it much more interesting than just a solid swath of color.

18. Rainbow Split

For when you can’t decide which color direction to go in, this look gives you an excuse to just use them all. Go halfsies over each nail, matching them up to another color in their same family or tone to keep things cohesive.

19. Party Tips

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If you love a glitter nail and pearls and anything glitzy, this ombré nail art is for you. Wear the gradient glitter look to glam up your jeans and a T-shirt or pair it with an equally shiny dress to elevate your look even more.

20. Mixed Metals

Who needs jewelry when you can wear all your accessories on your nails? The gold foiled spirals (it gives the effect of using wire but is much more wearable and durable) create a delicate design that is worthy of the gram.

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Article Last Updated August 24, 2021 12:00 AM