I have to admit that I’ve been hesitant to hop on the nail art train. It’s cute to have a fun accent on a nail or two, but when you come with an entire fiesta hanging off your hand, it goes left really fast. Plus, I sometimes wonder if I’ve hit the age where certain things just shouldn’t be done {like shopping at Sanrio!}. There are certain trends you just have to say no to. For instance, when your nail artist suggests you go for a more “adventurous” look!


However, my whole outlook on nail art changed when I teamed up with nail art genius’ Pams&Kin. These purveyors of phancy phalange are the sweetest girls you’ll ever meet and Parris and Kiri really know their stuff! We came to them looking for a fun way to change up our now boring nails that we could still rock in the office without feeling ridiculous.

The ladies of Pams&Kin showed us that there is definitely a way to wear nail art and do so in a work {and age!} appropriate, sophisticated way! Here are the styles they hand-painted for us!


One of the keys to rocking subtle nail art is to keep your nail polish colors neutral. It gives you a good base to work with and lets you have fun with accents. Parris kept Bianca’s base coat dark, which is perfect for fall and played around with a graphic pattern on just a couple of fingers. I loved that idea! {Nail Polish Used: Essie Carry On, OPI Alpine Snow, Butter London All Hail The Queen and Butter London Diamond Geezer.}


With shades in the same color family, like brown and gold, you can achieve a really subtle and pretty look. I loved the monochromatic inversed french manicure the ladies created for Jessica! From some angles, her nails simply look brown, but then you get a flash of gold from the triangle. Love! {Nail Polish Used: Orly Luxe and Butter London Flash Pack.}


I am obsessed with the gold strips {you can buy them here!} that Parris put on my nails. They’re an easy way to make a perfectly straight line and add just the right amount of shine. You could also get creative in how you apply them. Maybe lay them diagonally or in an X.  {Nail Polish Used: OPI Alpine Snow.}

It was such a treat getting our nails done by Pams&Kin. Kiri and Parris are so talented and if you are in the Bay Area, you can book an appointment with them here and here! But wait, we had to ask the girls some quick advice before they left…


You two are the ultimate nail gurus. What polishes should every woman have in their collection?

Every woman should own an opaque nude – there’s no right color, you just have to find the shade that compliments your skin tone the most. A great white is also a must. We are currently obsessed with OPI Alpine Show, if you haven’t noticed! You also definitely need a dark, vampy color for when you’re feeling a bit sassy – we love Essie’s Carry On. Finally, one of the most important polished you should own is a good top coat. We are busy ladies as are most woman and rarely have time to sit and wait for our nails to dry. Seche Vite’s fast dry top coat has saved our lives – no more smudges!

To achieve these looks on our own, is there any trick to the trade? 

Get creative with supplies you have around your house. You don’t need expensive tools to achieve phancy phalanges. Regular scotch tape is great for making straight lines, bobby pins are perfect for dotting tools and makeup sponges are an easy way to create an ombre nail. If you have craft scissors, you can use those to cut the tape to get a fun design!

So, who’s ready to try some chic nail art? Or perhaps you already have delved into the nail art world. If you do it yourself, I’m curious how you achieve your looks – I’m guessing a lot of practice is necessary!

original photography for apartment 34 by Emily Scott, original nail art by Pams&Kin, art direction by erin hiemstra, portrait c/o Pams&Kin

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  1. I am in total agreement, and recently addressed the workplace implications of wild nail polish and nail art on my blog.

    I have to confess that first look is still a little too “distracting” for my tastes, but it really depends on how creative and loose a work environment you have, and what the brand and culture of the company is. There are certainly businesses whose images align wholeheartedly with bright and bold nail polish and art.

    Great topic and pretty examples; especially the white with gold stripes (clearly the crowd favorite!).


  2. Love it Just starting out with nail art, 47 years old and quite an introvert, so don’t want to look silly.
    A tip for quick-drying nails without a quick-dry top-coat: Wait only a minute after applying nail polish, then dip your fingers in ice water for about 10 minutes. Better than 30 minutes, and cheaper than a top-coat