20 Classy Short Nail Designs

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If you are looking for classy short nail designs, you’ve come to the right place. While over-the-top long nail designs in stiletto and coffin shapes with inset rhinestones and bold colors will forever be popular in certain circles, shorter nails are making a big comeback.

Shorter nails are more practical! If you want to send a text message or key in your PIN at the ATM, open a can of soda, type on a keyboard, or do anything that requires using your fingers, short nails are easier.

But just because you have shorter nails doesn’t mean they can’t look chic and sophisticated. Manicures are not reserved for the 1-inch talons of those who have given up the ability to be manually dexterous for nice nails.

Short nails are just as deserving to look epic as long nails, and we’re going to show you 20 of our favorite short classy nail designs.

And when we say ‘classy’, we mean short nails designs that you can wear anywhere and have your nails look on point — even if they aren’t pointy!


Classy Short Nail Designs

Okay so let’s get into nails! We’ve scoured the Internet looking for the classiest short nail designs and this is what we’ve found. Although there are some other trending designs out there that you won’t see in this list, it’s not an omission!

We didn’t include them on purpose.

1. Nude Nails

Credit: Instagram : titanilla_beres_nailartist

Although it doesn’t seem like we’re off to an exciting start, nude nails will always be a classic color that not only goes with everything but is suited to every occasion, from the most casual to the most formal.

You can rock nude nails with any color outfit, for any occasion, which is why nude nails are featured at the top of our list.

If ever in doubt about what nail color to wear, nude will never steer you wrong.

2. Nude Nails With An Iridescent Sheen

Credit: Instagram : nail.huelala_by_jasmine

Now if you want to take your nude nails up a celebratory/party notch, but still look classy, adding an iridescent topcoat gives you all the benefit of nude nails with a little shape-shifting party glitter.

The great thing about these nails is that they are still understated in more formal settings, but when it comes time to let your hair down, they are that little bit of bling.

This is one of those instances where you can really get the best of both worlds.

3. White

Credit: Instagram : blisswildelake

White (or beige works equally well) is great for just about any occasion and will match almost any outfit. It’s clean and simple, yet elegant.

You’ll notice that we will not be featuring many dark colored nail designs on our list, not because they aren’t classy, but because dark colors can tend to make short nails look shorter.

The whole point of spending the time to do (or pay someone to do) your manicure is to make your fingers look long and elegant, as opposed to short and stubby.

If you start getting more attention with white nails, it could be because people have somehow decided that white nail polish means you’re “available”. Tik Tok. Sigh.

4. Periwinkle

Credit: Instagram : lookswithlen

Periwinkle is such a fantastic color, and so on trend. We could not not include periwinkle on our list.

It’s a little bit blue with a little bit purple, and because of its warm tones (thanks to the purple), it will suit both warm and cool toned skin, which means that this color will look good on just about everyone.

5. French Manicure

Credit: Instagram :  bellosusei

The French manicure is a classic that looks good on everyone. It somehow says: “this is me ‘au naturelle’, and I take good care of myself.”

There is nothing classier than that!

6. Colored French Tips

Credit: Instagram : todays_nailart

Now if the classic French tips are a little bit too bland for you and you were looking for something a little more fun, colored French tips are now all the rage.

They are still understated because it’s just the tips that are colored, and the rest of the nail is nude or clear.

You have the option of going all one color, or a different color on each nail.

7. VCut Colored French Tips

Credit: Instagram : nailsby_melaniekane

V-cut French tips are yet another version of the classic design. Only instead of going straight across, the tips form a chevron, or a ‘V’. You can get V-cut French tips in the classic white as well, but we just love this two-color design in pink and yellow.

8. Micro French Tips

Credit: Instagram : blowltd

Micro French Tips are another popular nail trend right now where just the very tips of the nail are colored.

You can go as bold on the color as you want because it’s just the very tips, so any color looks chic.

Subtle and gorgeous.

9. Micro Glitter Tips

Credit: Instagram : aiv_naiils

A colored nail with a glitter micro tip is a classy way to add a little bling without going over-the-top.

The same color polish and glitter also keeps this nail design reigned in, keeping it subtle and elegant.

10. Micro Tips With Glitter Accent

Credit: Instagram : nail_inspo247

This is another way to get a bit of bling into your nail design with an elegant gold accent.

11. Silver Foil Glitter Tips

Credit: Instagram : pinknailsbyevy

Instead of the standard glitter polish, silver foil in small pieces is used to make a larger glitter effect.

This is a great way to dress up a nude nail for a more formal event.

12. Ombre Nails

Credit: Instagram : tvnperfectnails

It seems like ombre is everywhere!

And who doesn’t love a good ombre nail?

Just a couple of notes on ombre nails: it’s better to go from darker at the base to lighter at the tips. If you have the darker color at the tips it usually tends to look like you accidentally dipped your fingers in something.

Even worse, if you use red at the tip of an ombre nail design, it looks like you got your fingers mangled in your kitchen sink garbage disposal.

On lighter skin complexions, darker pinks, like fushia, at the base of an ombre nail can make your cuticles look inflamed.

13. Multicolored Nude Ombre

Credit: Instagram : lunas_nails20

We absolutely love these nails! The different pastel ombre for each nail is so pretty.

It’s colorful without being in-your-face.

14. Violet And White Nail Art

Credit: Instagram : ohmynailsjulia

This simple, but elegant nail art in violet and white on nude nails makes for a very minimal and classy design.

15. Black And Gold On Beige

Credit: Instagram : rachel_nailart.90

These nails use sleek black and gold wavy lines on a beige base polish to create this classy abstract design.

16. Nude Pink & Maroon Combo

Credit: Instagram : nail_inspo247

These nails have a whole lot going on. A solid pinky, a French tip, a colored French tip, and abstract waves all come together with a sophisticated palette of nude pink and maroon that keeps it very classy looking.

17. Two Nail Design

Credit: Instagram : ellas_nailstudio

One of the best ways to keep your short nail design classy is to keep it minimal. If you are going for intricate nail art, keeping it to just one or two nails on each hand is a great way to add some interest, but still keep it minimal.

We love this nail design above because although the two nails are almost the same, the design is actually different.

The two solid nails on either side also work well to highlight the nail art.

18. Glitter Solid Combo

Credit: Instagram : manis.with.mercedes

We love this combination and how it transitions from a solid polish to glitter polish. The peek-a-boo waves are a nice touch.

19. Glitter Combo With Gold Foil

Credit: Instagram : glitter_shine_nails

A touch of gold foil can be a great way to add a little extra sparkle to your nail design. We love how the glitter polish matches both the purple polish but has gold in it as well and ties everything together.

The salmon-colored tip somehow works amazingly well with the whole design.

20. Marbled Maroon

Credit: Instagram : inez.j_nails_lublin

This is the only really dark nail design we have on our list, but we are obsessed!

These are perfect colors for fall and rainy days.

Brown and beige will go with everything and the marbling and slight glitter going on with the two middle nails that blend both colors is epic.

What Shape Is Best For Short Nails?

An oval shape will elongate the nail and make it look longer.

That said, you can choose any shape you want. The five basic shapes are rounded, square, oval, pointed, and squoval (which is like square nails with filed-down corners). Even if you have short nails, you can pull off any of these shapes.

But if the real question you’re asking is – which shape will make my nails look the longest? – then oval is your answer.


We hope that our 20 classy short nail designs have given you some inspiration. Just remember the tricks to keeping your short nail design classy is to…

  •  keep it minimal
  •  keep the intricate nail art to one or two nails
  • nude and anything works
  •  if you’re using glitter and another color, make sure the glitter polish matches, and use it sparingly.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).