January 30, 2023

gold plated manicure

So often, people assume that nail art must be inherently bold. On the contrary, we’re here to shed a little light on elevated nail designs that are subtle enough for conservative work environments and sophisticated enough for black-tie affairs. The color palettes are largely more neutral and the designs more simple, but let us be clear: These nail art ideas are anything but boring.

Keep reading to discover dozens of subtle-yet-elevated nail art ideas. Be sure to screenshot the ones you want to recreate so that you have an inspiration image on hand for your manicurist (or yourself).

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Pale Pink Marble

Classy Nail Designs Pink Marble
@LOLO.NAILEDIT

You can embrace one of the season’s prettiest nail trends while still embracing an office-friendly nail look. Case in point: These pretty pale pink marble nails. Here’s hoping they’ll give you the power of rose quartz while you wear them.

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Peachy Nude

Classy Nail Designs Nude
@GLOSSHOUSE

An elevated nail look can be as simple as picking a gorgeous subtle hue. Take one look at these peachy nails, and you’ll know what we mean.

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Stacked Jewels

Classy Nail Designs Stacked Jewels
@LOLO.NAILEDIT

Gemstones go a long way when it comes to creating elegant nail looks. This one would be perfect for a bride (or anyone who loves a little bling).

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Abstract Champagne

Classy Nail Designs Abstract Champagne
@GLOSSHOUSE

This manicure might be abstract, but thanks to the subtle, glimmering nail shade, it offers a sophisticated, artsy vibe. Best of all, since it’s abstract, it’s easy to recreate. Dip a toothpick or dotting tool into rose gold nail polish and twirl it along each nail. Finish with topcoat.

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Traced in White

Classy Nail Designs White Border
@AMYYTRAN

Achieving an elevated nail look doesn’t require covering all of your nails in full coats of color. Here, you can see how stunning white outlines and well-placed gems and dots can enhance your look in a minimalist way.

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Short Acrylics

Classy Nail Designs Short Acrylics
@BEAUTYOF3_

Milky pink ombré nails? Talk about the most gorgeous subtle acrylics.

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Glitter Ombré

Classy Nail Designs Glitter Ombre
@LOLO.NAILEDIT

Pale purple glitter ombré? Yes, please!

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Rounded French Tips

Classy Nail Designs Rounded French Tips
@AMYYTRAN

Point blank: You can never go wrong with a classic French manicure.

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Gold Glitter Chevron

Classy Nail Designs Gold Glitter Chevron
@LOLO.NAILEDIT

Gold glitter chevron over dark berry creates an eye-catching contrast that’s sophisticated and fun.

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Moody French Mani

Classy Nail Designs Moody French
@AMYYTRAN

If you love a French mani’s look but want to get creative with the colors, opting for a fall-and-winter-friendly palette maintains an elevated vibe.

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Black French Tips

Classy Nail Designs Black French
@THE_GELBOTTLE_INC

Another option is to transform the classic French manicure into a black-tipped beauty. It’s a particularly fabulous option for black-tie affairs.

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Sparkly Mauve

Classy Nail Designs Sparkly Mauve
@AMYYTRAN

Glittery pink nails can look sophisticated, too. Just opt for a mauve hue and trace the bottom with a solid metallic silver to balance the whimsical hue.

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Subtle Acrylics

Classy Nail Designs Subtle Acrylics
@NAILSSBYMK

Acrylic nails don’t have to be incredibly long. These square-tipped nails prove it. They also show just how alluring an asymmetric take on French tips can look.

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Milky Brown Diagonal Tips

Classy Nail Designs Milky Brown Tips
@IRAMSHELTON

Minimalist brown-dipped tips? Absolutely. (P.S. Nail striping tape will make recreating this nail look a cinch.)

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Khaki and Gold

Classy Nail Designs Khaki and Gold
@PAINTBOXNAILS

Khaki and gold can make for quite the pairing. Plus, negative space gives the manicure a clean grow-out.

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Nude Hearts

Classy Nail Designs Nude Hearts
@AMYYTRAN

Even seasonal nails can look sophisticated with the right design elements. Just look at these heart nails. With nude backgrounds and ultra-fine white lining, they look positively demure.

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Geometric Negative Space

Classy Nail Designs Geometric Negative Space
@AMYYTRAN

Looking for a sophisticated manicure worthy of a black-tie affair? Look no further than these geometric stunners.

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Gold Foil Speckles

Classy Nail Designs Gold Foil Speckles
@AMYYTRAN

Diagonal mauve tips with gold flakes throughout? It’s one abstract design that looks subtle and undoubtedly elevated.

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Velvet Nails

Classy Nail Designs Velvet
@LOLO.NAILEDIT

Velvet nails are a great option for elevated nails, as the polish alone creates an sophisticated end look.

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Mauve Diagonals

Classy Nail Designs Mauve Diagonals
@AMYYTRAN

Of course, if you prefer to keep it as simple as possible, opting to keep gold flakes out of the picture makes for a pretty manicure, too.

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Cloud-Like Tips

Classy Nail Designs Cloud Tips
@AMYYTRAN

Whether you see hearts or clouds, these playful gold and white nails offer a fun yet sophisticated vibe.

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Berry Fade

Classy Nail Designs Berry Fade
@THE_GELBOTTLE_INC

Want to get in on the rainbow nail trend without actually wearing a bold rainbow? This pink-to-berry ombré grasps the trend while looking office-friendly.

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Minimalist Art Deco

Classy Nail Designs Minimalist Art Deco
@BASECOATSTORIES

Prefer to make more of a statement with your nails? These subtle art deco nails will make you swoon.

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Neutral Acrylics

Acrylic nails are often automatically viewed as bold. However, if you opt for a neutral polish color, you can embrace the idea of subtle acrylics.

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Tortoiseshell Tips

Classy Nail Designs Tortoiseshell Tips
@BYSADIEDAISY

Tortoiseshell tips are the perfect option for the person who wants to get in on the latest nail trends without rocking a fully bold manicure.

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Chocolate Drip

Classy Nail Designs Chocolate Drip
@BYSADIEDAISY

This water-marbled brown ombre manicure is giving us major milk chocolate-caramel vibes. It’s a sweet look.

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Lilac Stunners

Classy Nail Designs Lilac
@PAINTBOXNAILS

Carefully placed gold foil can go a long way. One look at these proves that they’re magically elegant.

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Glitter Halfsies

Classy Nail Designs Half Glitter
@IRAMSHELTON

Opting for only half a nail’s worth of glitter makes for a fun-yet-elegant nail look. And good news: It’s easy to recreate. Start with a base coat, then apply a strip of nail tape down the middle of each nail, and paint glitter polish on the side of the tape. Remove the tape once fully dry and finish with a topcoat.

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Nude Fade

Classy Nail Designs Nude Fade
@IRAMSHELTON

This is probably the subtlest rainbow mani we’ve ever seen. We love the mix of neutral tones.

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Tiny Evil Eyes

Classy Nail Designs Evil Eyes
@IRAMSHELTON

Teeny evil eyes make for almost undetectable nail art. In other words, très elevated.

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Nude Abstract

Classy Nail Designs Nude Abstract
@NAILSBYCANISHIEA

Nude and white always pair beautifully for a simple (but stunning) look. This one, in particular, is easy to DIY. All you need is a nude base with white squiggles and dots on top.