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Fall Nail Trends of 2021

From simple to spooktacular, find your next fall nail inspo here!

If you are anything like me, then you put a lot of thought (maybe a bit too much thought) into your nails, and always want them looking perfect.  Perhaps you stand in front of the polish shelf at the salon, staring endlessly at the sea of colors, unsure which one to choose.  This can get even more stressful when a new season, like fall, approaches.  What are the standard fall colors? Should I do a Halloween design? What shape should I do? To answer all of your nail questions, continue reading to get some ideas or inspiration if you can’t decide on your next nail art. 

Basic Fall Colors

If you aren’t one to venture out with your nails and prefer to have just a solid-colored set, here are some fall colors to give you some inspiration for your next manicure.


Don’t underestimate the power of a chocolate brown nail!  Brown goes with many other colors/designs, so your nails will very likely match whatever outfit you’re wearing.  Whether your nails are shorter or longer, brown is a great color to try out since there are so many different shades for all skin tones. 

close up of hands with tan and gold acrylic nails
Photo by Zimuzo Okala

Olive/Sage Green

Another underrated fall color is a muted, darker green color.  A shade of olive or sage green is another great fall tone, as it is still a dark, toned-down color that complements many other fall colors. 


An orange shade is another potentially great choice for your nail color.  You can choose a darker orange, such as a burnt orange or terracotta, or a pumpkin-orange if you want to brighten things up a little. 


There’s plenty of variations of purple, which makes it another great choice because of the wide shade range.  From a light lilac to a bold violet, purple is a great fall color to choose, especially closer to Halloween!


Another great fall color is the classic red.  This can range from a good, old-fashioned true red to garnet (go cocks!) or a wine-colored red.  These multiple shade ranges allow for a lot of wiggle room, so get creative!

Fun Fall/Halloween Patterns

If you would rather go for a set of nails that’s a bit more of a statement, here we have some unique patterns and shapes that you can implement in your next manicure.  For nail designs or patterns, longer nails might allow more room to work with and may make your design or pattern pop.  With longer nails, you can choose many different shapes from square, round, coffin, almond, stiletto, and even lipstick!  Whatever shape you choose depends on which one you prefer and will allow a design or pattern to have a much bigger surface area to work with.

The coffin shape is similar to the shape of a narrow trapezoid, and resembles the shape of the bottom half of a typical coffin. The almond shape resembles an almond, with a rounded point at the tip. Stiletto nails are nails with a sharp point at the tip— such a cute shape, but be careful: it can be sharp! Lipstick nails are shaped as square, longer nails that have an angled tip, as if you rolled a lipstick all the way up and looked at it directly (I personally favor the coffin shape— I have naturally long nails, so with long nails I like to keep a coffin shape rather than just a basic square shape so that the sides of my nails are less likely to break or crack.)


If you still want to incorporate fall colors without too much of a Halloween flare, you can choose different colors like red, orange, brown, and yellow, and then add some leaves here and there, or add a pumpkin on an accent nail. Different sizes and shapes of leaves and/or pumpkins are an adorable addition to your manicure and a great way to get into the autumn season. 


If you want something a bit more spooky and less autumnal, then skeleton bones or skulls are a great choice.  This can be done on solid black nails with bones painted over top, or even on clear nails with the bones being the main star of the show. 

Spider Webs

Another great spooky choice is the classic spider web. The great thing about the spider web is it is adaptable and can be improvised and painted on any nail, as there’s no set or specific spider web design.  You can even add a spider or two on a couple of nails to be even spookier!

Dripping Blood

While this is a bit gorier, blood dripping down the tips of your nails is bound to be a showstopper, especially if it fits in with your Halloween costume.  This can be done with nails that either has a background color or do not, and a traditional blood red. 

Witch Décor

Another Halloween-based option is anything associated with witches— this could include a cauldron, a witch’s hat, an actual witch, a broom, a crescent moon and stars, or even a black cat! This is a great way to incorporate some of your favorite Halloween items/symbols into one, cohesive nail look. 

Halloween Pop Culture

Shoutout to all of our horror movie buffs (myself included)!  Your nail design could incorporate iconic scary movie references— anywhere from Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jack Skellington, Pennywise… the list goes on and on!  This is where you can really let your creativity flourish and make for an iconic and unforgettable manicure. 

No matter what shape, color, or design you choose for your nails, changing up your manicure to match the fall and Halloween season is a great way to get into the holiday spirit.  Feel free to even combine a few of these ideas— or get inspiration to come up with your own totally unique design!

Danielle Wallace

South Carolina '23

Hi there! I’m Danielle, a junior Journalism major at the University of South Carolina. I love cats, 2000’s music, and Juicy Couture tracksuits. I love all things pink, and you will never see me without my nails done. Xoxo!
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