Why we'll all be asking for the 'baby' French manicure made popular by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

Meet the French manicure for the Noughties

Baby French Manicure
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(Image credit: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 06: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley attends The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/FilmMagic))

Cast your minds back to the '90s when the French manicure (opens in new tab) involved lengthy tapered nails (real or acrylic) that were heavily lacquered with Tippex-like half moons at the tip. 

Unsurprisingly, the look soon lost favour with the fashion pack and was relegated to beauty folklore.

Now the French manicure is back but with a fresh new look. The 'baby' French is a wholly modern interpretation - like a French manicure's cooler, low-maintenance baby sister.

Chic and understated, it's designed to look like your natural nails - just a more sparkling, healthy version. 

Celebrity fans include Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (opens in new tab), who sported the 'baby' on short and softly tapered square nails. Notice, too, how the nude polish is gossamer fine, still allowing her natural nail to peak through. 

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A photo posted by on

Harriet Westmoreland,  Whitely's manicurist, has posted various iterations on her Instagram. But the overarching theme is, "French but make it as subtle as possible," says Westmoreland.

As well as suiting all nail shapes, another benefit of the baby French is that the natural shade of the base means you can go longer between manicure appointments. 

A post shared by Harriet Westmoreland (@harrietwestmoreland) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

Now that nail salons (opens in new tab) have re-opened, this is undoubtedly the look to ask your manicurist for. 

Westmoreland has been using Spun Out of Dreams or Shade Rose No68, both gel polishes by Bio Sculpture, for the base colour and Evo Polish in Whitney for the white cuticle detail should you wish to recreate the exact look.

Alternatively, for a DIY at-home alternative, Kate Middleton's favourite nail colour Ballet Slippers (opens in new tab)and a half moon using 1 Blanc (opens in new tab), both by Essie, look chic.

For more nail inspo, check out our guide to the 12 Christmas nail designs for the festive season (opens in new tab).

Fiona Embleton is a beauty writer who is now Acting Beauty Editor at Stylist. She is obsessed with Isabel Marant and cats.