29 Nail Art Ideas So Subtle, You Can Wear Them Anywhere — Even at Work

In some work environments, nail art is considered the beauty equivalent of stilettos — distracting by sheer existence, and therefore must be worn in moderation in a professional setting. That doesn't mean you have to skip the manicure altogether, of course, but you'll want to find a subtle nail art design that means business . . . without making anyone else butt into yours.

The first, and perhaps most obvious, option is to keep it simple. Swipe on a clear or nude nail polish as your base, then top it off with a hit of color or sparkle to give it an office-appropriate edge. Or, nail artist Jessica Washick has another idea: bring back a classic.

"I'd suggest you play around with a basic french tip manicure, but make it not-so-basic depending on how conservative your office is," she said. "There's a lot you can do, but keeping with the french tip design helps to add some boundaries to play in. One idea is to use a sheer, light pink base and just paint on a tinted pink tip. It still reads professional, but the bit of pink helps punch it up."

No need to brainstorm on design ideas (leave that to your day job, and ours); just keep reading for nail art you can wear to every type of office setting — then get to work.

Nail Art For the Traditional Corporate Office

For most white-collar jobs (or anyone who works at a large corporation), keeping things formal is par for the course — and that extends to your nails. You can still have fun, but keep your polish colors neutral and the manicure design to a minimum.

Nail Art For a Client-Driven Job

If you're in sales — or working with clients in a forward-facing manner — you'll likely still want to keep the nail art to a minimum, but because it can also serve as a great conversation starter, you have a little more room for experimentation. In these instances, stick to subtle hits of color or negative-space manicures to call just the right amount of attention.

Nail Art For a Creative Office Environment

People working in a more creative field (hi, POPSUGAR!) can take a few more risks, but that doesn't mean you want to go all Elle-Fanning-at-the-Met-Gala with your nails. To keep it professional, stick to simple designs with an impact. Or, "if you're really interested in pushing it, try a nude base with neon tips for a street edginess," Washick said.