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What Color Toenail Polish Do You Wear With Red Shoes?

By Amalah

Hi Amy-
Love your column!
Question: what color toe polish should one wear with patent red sandals? I purchased a cute low pair of heels at Daffy’s last week, and got my feet all exfoliated and toes painted to look cute, but the pink-ish polsh looks awful with the red shoes. What color should I be doing instead?

(We still have a few more weeks of open-toed shoe weather, right? RIGHT?)
Okay, so the traditional choice for red or other brightly-colored shoes (think any of the candy patents from this season, really), is a French pedicure. I know the sight of white toenail tips is not for everyone, but I admit I like the look WHEN IT’S DONE WELL. Which means matching the neutral topcoat to your actual nail bed instead of just defaulting to the pale, cotton-candy pink (I prefer a more peachy-pink), and a VERY thin band of white. The look is supposed to mimic and subtly enhance the look of naked nails, but can easily be overdone with too much white and a not-quite-neutral topcoat.
wet%20n%20wild%20clear.jpg(And no, I don’t ever attempt French pedicures at home. I mean, I have, with all those little supposedly idiot-proof kits and guides and…no. I can’t do it. Yuck.)
Other than a French, clear polish is your best bet, unless you’re the type of girl who can pull off all-black polish. (Which can look REALLY COOL with red shoes, but I don’t find it terribly appropriate for wearing to the office. For whatever reason. I probably just made that up. But I’m committing to it!) Or you can hold the shoes up to the polish rack and attempt to find a complementing (NOT. MATCHY. MATCHING.) shade of red — probably a deeper, more wine-y shade than the shoes themselves. But even then, the subtle metallic properties of the polish that might not be visible in the bottle might still clash once it’s on your toes. So really, I vote for French or clear.
If you regularly paint your toenails a dark color, you are probably gagging at the thought of putting clear polish on them, thanks to discoloration. Polishes with shades of blue (this is a lot of red polishes, actually), brown, wine and black are the worst for this — they give your nails an uber-attractive yellow look, sometimes after just a few days. If you’ve got really bad discoloration, start dialing down the color wheel through the pinks and nudes while applying an extra layer of basecoat each time you paint. If you get professional pedicures, take your polish off YOURSELF at home and give your nails an extra surface buffing, then squirt some lemon juice over them.
It’s also good to let your nails see the sun occasionally — if you’re going to the beach or spending time outside doing some activity where you don’t particularly care how your toes look, take off the polish.


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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