A complete guide to nail shapes and how to pick the right one for you

Experts break down the most popular nail shapes and how to achieve them, from square to squoval and stiletto

Collage of three different nail shapes including almond and squoval
(Image credit: Getty)

Nowadays, there are so many different nail shapes to consider that square and rounded can seem a little bit basic. Of course, they’re not – these two nail shapes are classic (and popular) for good reason. But now, they must contend with the likes of stiletto, coffin and almond, to name just three. 

Finding the perfect nail shape for you is just as important as selecting a nail design and color. Because, as the experts explain, not all nail shapes suit all nail lengths and designs. Take squoval nails, for instance, this shape works especially well with nail designs for short nails and treatments like that of BIAB nails. Whereas stiletto and coffin, on the other hand, are better suited to longer nails. 

Confused? Here, the experts break down the most popular options – including who they suit and how to file them into shape at home. From the classic square to the trending stiletto, our expert guide will help you decide which shape to try next. 

Every nail shape, explained by the pros

Illustration of different nail shapes

(Image credit: Getty)

1. Square nail shape

Pale pink square nails

(Image credit: Getty)

Let’s start with a classic, square. “Square is a timeless nail shape that never goes out of style,” says Juanita Huber-Millet, founder and creative director at luxury nail salon Townhouse. “It’s characterized by its straight edges and angular corners that create that chic ‘square’ shape that was very popular in the ‘90s.” 

Who does this nail shape suit?  

“Square works well with both long and short nails,” assures Carmen Tran, senior nail art specialist at Shoreditch Nails. It is, however, important to look at the shape of your nail bed, too. “This shape is especially flattering for those who have a wider nail bed as it can create the illusion of a longer nail,” notes Huber-Millet. 

How to achieve square nails: 

The experts agree that achieving a square shape at home is relatively easy. “Using a nail file, gently file your nail at the top and sides to create straight edges and then lightly round off the corners to avoid any sharp edges that may catch,” says Huber-Millet. 

2. Rounded nail shape

white round nails at Townhouse

(Image credit: Townhouse Nails)

Another classic, rounded nails are back on trend in 2023 - especially for pared-back wedding nail designs. “This shape is perfect for anyone who prefers a softer, more natural nail look,” says Huber-Millet. As its name suggests, this shape is round and follows the natural curve of the fingertips. 

Who does this nail shape suit? 

“This shape is best suited to short nails,” confirms Huber-Millet, “and it’s great for those who want to keep things simple and understated.” Pair with neutral shades such as trending milk nails for a clean and sophisticated nail that perfectly suits being worn as a wedding guest nail design or other classy occasions. 

 How to achieve rounded nails:

“If you have long nails, trim them down with a nail clipper,” advises Huber-Millet. “Then, take a nail file and gently file your nails to follow the natural curve of your fingertips.” Top tip? “Always file in one direction, from one side of the nail to the center point and then mirror this on the other side,” she continues. 

3. Squoval nail shape

Squoval nails at Townhouse

(Image credit: Townhouse)

Popular on Instagram and in the salon, squoval nails are everywhere right now. “If you can’t decide between square and oval, then squoval is the perfect pick for you,” says Huber-Millet. This shape offers the best of both worlds – “the clean lines of square nails and the softness of rounded edges.” Think of this shape as a soft square. 

Who does this nail shape suit? 

“Squoval is a super flattering shape that suits everyone, regardless of nail length,” says Huber-Millet. We would argue that it’s especially flattering for short nails when paired with bright summer nail colors. “Squoval also works well if you’re looking to grow out the nail,” adds Tran, “as it catches less due to the edges being rounded off.” 

How to achieve squoval nails:

“To achieve squoval nails at home, start by gently filing your nails straight across, then round off the edges by filing at a 45-degree angle. Be sure to always file in one direction and avoid going too short,” instructs Huber-Millet. 

4. Almond nail shape

Neutral almond nails

(Image credit: Getty)

Ever since supermodel Hailey Bieber posted her almond glazed nails on Instagram, this nail shape has soared in popularity. “Almond-shaped nails are stunning and create an elegant, feminine look,” says Huber-Millet, who is a big fan. Like the nut, “this shape is slim at the tip, tapered in on the sides and wider towards the base.” 

Who does this nail shape suit? 

“Almond nails suit many, many people,” says Tran, “in fact, I would say it is the most versatile nail shape.” According to Huber-Millet, almond is better suited to long nails. “It is my personal go-to shape,” she says. 

How to achieve almond nails: 

“Start by filing your nails into an oval shape,” says Huber-Millet, “then gently file the sides of your nails to create a tapered point at the tip.” To finish, round off the tip ever so slightly. “Go slow and steady with this nail shape,” says Tran, “stop, have a look, and then go again.”  

5. Coffin nail shape

Green coffin nails

(Image credit: Getty)

The coffin nail shape has recently gained traction and with several celebrity fans (including Lizzo, Kylie Jenner and Rihanna), it’s no wonder. “A-listers and fashion icons are often seen sporting this shape,” seconds Huber-Millet, who adds that it’s a great way to add drama to your nail look. “Sitting somewhere between an almond and a square, this long tapered shape features a flat tip that resembles the silhouette of a coffin,” explains Tran. 

Who does this nail shape suit? 

According to both experts, coffin nails work best on clients with longer nails. “It's a unique shape that requires some length,” says Huber-Millet. If you have the length then it's a great shape with which to experiment with ombre nails and marble nail designs

How to achieve coffin nails:

“Achieving this shape at home can be tricky as it requires precise filing,” warns Huber-Millet. As with almond nails, go slowly. “Start by filing the sides to create that tapered-in shape,” says Tran, “then file across the top of the nail in one motion for a crisp, clean edge.”

6. Stiletto nail shape

White stiletto nails

(Image credit: Getty)

If you really want to make a statement, opt for stiletto nails. Seriously sharp, this dramatic shape features a spiked point and lots of length. In fact, according to both experts, this nail shape requires the most length – and the majority of clients will require extensions with gel or acrylic overlays. 

Who does this nail shape suit? 

Anyone who loves a dramatic nail look will adore the stiletto shape. It's probably not the best option if you work with your hands or prioritize practicality generally - these statement nails will take some getting used to. And while it is high maintenance, if you're up for the challenge this is a great length and shape to show off fun nail art including intricate spring nail designs

How to achieve stiletto nails:

As stiletto nails usually require acrylic nail extensions and ultra-precise shaping, we'd advise you don't try this one at home. “For this shape, I would recommend visiting a professional nail technician who can expertly shape and buff your nails to perfection as this shape is a little trickier to perfect,” advises Huber-Millet. 

The best products to create every nail shape


Margaret Dabbs Crystal Nail File | RRP: $21/£16

For a smooth edge, and less breakage, invest in this Crystal Nail File from Margaret Dabbs that can be used in any direction over nail tips. 


Beauty Pie Cuticle Gel | RRP: $22/£18

For healthier-looking nails, treat your cuticles to this active-packed gel that’s loaded with nourishing olive oil ferment, strengthening vitamin E, and hydrating sweet almond oil. 

View the latest Beauty Pie discount codes from woman&home's vouchers team.


Shoreditch Nails The Top + Base | RRP: £13

This two-in-one top coat and base coat is crafted from 72% natural origin ingredients to strengthen nails while prolonging your at-home mani. This is particularly important on longer nail shapes such as the coffin or stiletto. 


Nails inc. Shellfie Ready Tortoiseshell Artificial Nails | RRP: $9/£8.99

If you can't find the time to visit your local nail salon, fake it at home with these artificial nails that boast a beautiful almond shape with a fun tortoiseshell design. 


Nailberry Polish in Peony Blush | RRP: $26/£16

Whichever nail shape you decide to go for, why not opt for a  bright sunny shade like this popping coral from Nailberry that looks great on both tips and toes. 

Emma Stoddart

Emma Stoddart is a freelance beauty journalist and self-confessed skincare aficionado with over five years’ industry experience. Emma has worked for some of the UK’s top women’s titles including Net-A-Porter, Stylist and Grazia. Her experience spans online and print as well as producing editorial shoots with some of the industry’s biggest artists, including Val Garland. Asides from working with them behind the scenes, she’s also had the chance to interview the likes of Patrick Ta, Pat McGrath, and Sam McKnight for all their insider tips and tricks.