These nails are very 1980s inspired, no? Must be all that Stranger Things I, and everyone else with a television, have been watching (40 mil viewers, Netflix, really?!) Actually, the reason this manicure is so rad is because it was inspired by the 1980s-themed event my husband’s been playing in Rocket League, an RC car-meets-goal…sports…game? All I know is I’m rather confused, and yet delighted, when I watch him motor a small replica Ecto 1 with striped sunset wheels down an underwater arena playing field in order to bury a hockey puck in a net that will explode in Michael Bay-worthy pyrotechnics. Now, THAT’S a video game!
Also, yes, totally the inspiration for these nails, which I did using a quintet of Enchanted Polish holographics, including House of the Rising Sun (yellow), Desert Sunset (orange), Dope Jam (pink), and two mystery polishes from 2015, November (magenta) and January (dark purple.) Extra super pretty as against the actual sunset this warm – SO warm – summer night.
This manicure, my entry towards day 10’s theme of a gradient in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, totally looks like the background to the cover art of a 1980s horror movie. Children of the Corn or one of its innumerable sequels (I’ve actually never seen any of them, although the Stephen King short story on which the original was based is one of my favourites.)
I’m not much for horror movies these days. There’s an element of cruelty to most of them that I find absolutely reprehensible – one of my great hates in life is torture porn. But when I was a kid I loved them, in the way you do when Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is the backdrop to your first slumber party, or when you make your dad come and stand outside your bedroom door while you’re changing into your pjs in the highly likely event that Jason Voorhees is hiding beneath your bed with a machete, or when you give yourself nightmares for about two solid weeks after simply reading the movie synopsis on the back of the VHS cassette for Sleepaway Camp. Simpler – yet somehow scarier – times.
Yes, I am completely one of those (getting-to-be-annoying?) people who has drank the Stranger Things Koolaid. In my case, though, it’s less like Koolaid and more like the very blood that runs through my ever-nostalgic veins – this show could not possibly be more up my alley than if it were called The Sandra Lewrey Show for Sandra Lewreys. I grew up on a steady diet of the ’80s movies, TV shows, novels and music Stranger Things so lovingly recreates (Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Carpenter being the primary influences) and its arrival on Netflix not even two weeks ago now – right in the midst of a languid summer heatwave, exactly the kind of conditions under which I used to sprawl out in a friend’s cool basement and wile away the humid daylight hours with some combination of The Goonies, Stand By Me and either Poltergeist or Jaws playing on an endless loop on the TV – signaled the end of all other productive activity. I’ve regressed, and it feels fabulous.
Everything that just about everyone has said about Stranger Things I second, third and fourth, which is also the approximate number of times I’ve watched the eight episodes back-to-back. I even found myself engaging in a round of Shag/Marry/Kill today with Mr. Clarke, Hopper and Mike and Nancy’s dad, Ted (for the record, Ted gets the axe, Mr. Clarke is the one I’d marry and Hopper…it’d be hot for about two seconds. Then he’d start crying and pass out on top of you in a drunken stupor until you’re either crushed to death by his massiveness or drown in his cold flop sweat.)
On a more serious note, Stranger Things is a show to be savoured, a show to be studied. Note all of the grid imagery that makes up the bulk of the show’s aesthetics. Start looking and you’ll find those horizontal and vertical lines – like the bars of a cell – and grids – like the graph paper the boys use to plot out their D&D adventures – EVERYWHERE. Then there’s the use of water and keys and music, and the fact that I am super invested in a fictional relationship between two 11-year-olds. Stranger Things have happened.
I could talk about this show all day long (pretty much do) and I adore it more than anything I’ve seen in forever, but I’ll leave off for now with these nails, a nod to Joyce Byers’ homemade wall ouija and the show’s overarching message that we’re all RIGHT HERE. Nothing strange about that.
It’s all aces for Alice in this mani inspired by the Disney animated movie, Alice in Wonderland. My preferred Alice is actually this super messed up version (but really, is there any other kind?) from 1985. It was a two-part musical TV special filmed entirely on a set with all your favourite film stars of the 1980s and 1940s (Scott Baio! Carol Channing! Sammy Davis Jr.! Ringo Starr!) and like all great adaptations of Alice, it was a total mindfu*k. I re-watched it the other evening, and aside from calling up some warm nostalgic feelings of anxiously awaiting its televised debut, I was reminded of how very inappropriate Alice in Wonderland is for its young audience. I really don’t know how I wasn’t irrevocably damaged by the sight of a slobbery, puffy puppet Jabberwocky chasing a shrieking little blonde girl through a lightning-streaked warren of gnarled roots and…yeah, you know what? That movie was just as scary the other night as it was when I was a kid! Damage done! I think I’ll take this version instead.
Coming at you this gloomy Sunday afternoon with another manicure inspired by the movie Beetlejuice, this time a super bright and graphic design honouring Miss Argentina, the droll, turquoise-skinned receptionist who mans the check-in desk in the Waiting Room of the Dead. The totally inappropriate joke (for any time but the 1980s, apparently) is that Miss Argentina, still garbed in her hot pink competition gown and sash and bearing two nasty-looking slashes on her wrists, is doomed to an eternity of bureaucratic civil service on account of what she terms her “little accident” – seems in the Beetlejuice world, if you check out early by your own hand, you’re condemning yourself to an afterlife of mind-numbingly stupid government work. It’s all pretty crass, but that was the 1980s for you.
Crassness aside, I love Miss Argentina – she’s overworked and profoundly bored, but also sassy and so. completely. over. it. And for a former beauty queen, it’s also important to note that she’s gorgeous. Turquoise and hot pink? That’s one of my favourite colour combinations! Here, check this out – this is Molly Tinkerpuff (and her cat, Stray) a Sim I created back in 2013 and modeled after Miss Argentina.
But let’s talk about this mani for a quick second. I love it. Like, loveity-love-love it. I’m sort of gobsmacked at how well it actually turned out, particularly the scroll work and the lettering in Miss Argentina’s sash. I also love how crisp and precise the outlining work is – it lends the whole thing a very comic book/tattoo kind of vibe. Neat!
Is truly outrageous, truly, truly, truly outrageous!
So I’ve noted on more than a few occasions that I’m total crap at drawing stars. Always have been – it’s one of those odd little mental blocks that decades of practice have failed to rectify. So I thought to myself, “Self, why not jump head-first into the starry abyss and do a manicure that’s practically nothing but stars? And completely inspired by Jem and the Holograms, which you never watched because you thought it was stupid, but pink and guitars, yay! And that will also take you about two hours, because stars are still not your thing, even when you go super slowly and carefully?” Okay, so I said that last part to myself after the fact – two hours after the fact, actually. What can I say, myself and I both have a lot to say for ourselves. 😉
So there’s a lot going on in these nails, right? I see the gradient here from Jem’s yellow star-topped band logo, the yellow stars themselves, the pinky-purple sparkle dust that seemed to accompany every toss of her platinum-pink hair, the little pink guitars that I assume at least one of the Holograms actually played, plus Jem’s magic-and-music-making red star earrings (again with the freakin’ stars!) Cute, although I’m not sure I’d call them truly, truly, truly outrageous. Maybe just one truly.
I think these nails look like multi-coloured twinkle lights as seen through squinted eyes. Or possibly the pattern on a tweed jacket from the 1980s. Actually, didn’t James Spader’s Stef wear a black linen suit in Pretty in Pink in this exact pattern? He had such a special wardrobe in that movie.
Anyhow! No matter the inspiration (although I guarantee you it wasn’t Pretty in Pink; I friggin’ hate that movie – too mean) I think these nails are super cute, and actually, in hindsight, a rip-off of a portion of my own design of last Christmas, which you can see here. Oops?
And because it will most likely get asked, the base polish I used here (from which I drew inspiration for the colour of the “lights”) was Pure Ice’s RespecK, a gorgeous polish with a stupid name that I will begrudgingly forgive it for on account of its $1.97 price tag at my local Walmart.
Does anyone remember the ads for sugar bomb cereals like Fruity Pebbles and Count Chocula that used to run during Saturday morning cartoons in the ’80s? The ones where an announcer all hopped up on Red Dye No. 6 and Frankenberry dust would bellow that your bowl of crunchy neon glucose was “part of your balanced breakfast”? And then they’d show these crazy feasts that included bacon, eggs, toast, fruit salad, milk, juice and, yes, your bowl of mouth-shredding Cap’n Crunch, with the insinuation that you eat this way every morning? I have never once in my life had a breakfast like that! I’ve come awfully close at a couple of my mother’s Christmas buffets, but in terms of a sit-down, “I eat a short stack every day before school/work!” – no, never. Hmm, could we be overcompensating for something here, Big Cereal?
These nails that break the fast have a bowl of something sugar smacky on my thumb, but otherwise, it’s quite a respectable spread. This manicure is actually my entry towards day five’s theme of blue in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge on account of the polish I used as the background, OPI’s No Room for the Blues. I use No Room ALL the time, at least a couple of times a week, because it is a perfect, neutral sky blue, and applies flawlessly. The breakfast goodies are tasty-looking, but sort of incidental!
Teal, the nightmare shade of a million taffeta prom dresses, is day one’s theme colour in this year’s Oh Mon Dieu Nail Art Challenge. Teal’s an ugly sort of descriptor for a really rather lovely colour; I think it gets a bad rap from its associations with unflattering bridesmaid gowns and the carpet in South Beach retirement homes. Faulty nomenclature aside, I quite like teal – the painted lower cabinets in my kitchen are a testament to that.
But the thing that invariably comes to mind when I think of the colour teal is the aforementioned tafetta prom/bridesmaid dress, a staple of any formal event in the ’80s (and well into the ’90s) that was seemingly designed to engender animosity between otherwise caring friends. Because there’s just no way you’d let your friend go to prom in a teal tafetta monstrosity OR ask her to wear one on your behalf as a bridesmaid if you didn’t actually hate them, right?
For these nails, I drew inspiration from that love-hate relationship with a manicure dipping into all the best parts of those ’80s mall dresses, from sweetheart necklines and puffy sleeves to non-functioning corseting details and ruffles aplenty. And all of it in shades of glorious, luminous teal!
I know 1980s-influenced fashion is having a real moment (leggings, how you are the bane of my existence) but speaking as yet another weary OLD who lived through that particular decade’s unflattering sartorial excesses, it is a flirtation that ought to be cut off before it can turn into something more. Seriously, guys, Spandex bike shorts that made the slim look gangly and knock-kneed and anyone carrying even an extra pound like the Michelin Man. These weird plastic combs we called banana clips that gave you a lopsided, limp kind of mohawk and would invariably yank out chunks of your hair. Stirrup pants. Oh, it was an unkind time. Then again, I was a totally fashion-challenged kid in the ’80s; nothing like the mini fashionistas who strut around now, intimidating me with their bitchin’ style at three and a half years old.
I don’t do a whole lot of modern, geographic, ’80s-inspired nail art, so what better way to fill that small blank spot in my portfolio than by tackling week one’s theme of the 1980s in May’s N.A.I.L. Challenge? For this manicure, I went with an every-nail-for-itself approach, highlighting five iconic looks of the not-so-fashionable ’80s, from acid wash jeans and the rainbow heart print sweater every girl wanted, to the aforementioned striped bike shorts and Ralph Lauren men’s button-downs.
Oh, and those things on my index finger? Safety pins. For a blessedly short amount of time in junior high, it was all the rage to squeeze into your already breath-inhibiting jeans and then, cranking whatever inseam actually existed together, pin your pants, one atop another, until you reached your knees or higher, if you dared sacrifice the tender flesh to multiple puncture wounds. In hindsight, with the safety pins and the inherent risk of injury and all, it was actually a pretty punk rock look, but hella impractical!
So with week one over and done, let’s take a look at what else the fine ladies of N.A.I.L. have in store for us this May.