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Style The Duchess of Sussex’s manicure makes it clear that dark nails still signal defiance

In some circles, breaking with protocol can be as innocent as the shade you choose for a manicure. When Meghan Markle, a.k.a. the Duchess of Sussex, appeared at the British Fashion Awards in December with short, dark fingernails, she elicited a public outcry. The provocative hue was a radical departure from the Queen’s posh polish preference: a pale pink rumoured to be Essie’s classic Ballet Slippers.

“I think it was a bold choice. Even red wouldn’t have been as scandalous,” says Elyse Connery, owner of Toronto’s Angora Nails, who’s currently hosting a pop-up nail bar at Arcana Salon. To emulate the Duchess’s chic royal rule breaking, Connery recommends looking for a polish in a deep jewel tone, such as a very dark purple or navy. “Any colour that looks black but has a vibrancy to it,” she says. Noir-like colours give longer nails a vampy look. But, Connery adds, just like the welcome slimming effect of a little black dress, dark polish has the power to make short nails appear even longer. “Putting a light colour on a short nail is blasphemy in my mind. I love a dark nail no matter what.”

Essie Enamel in Wicked, $9.99 at salons.

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