This is it: 2011 is officially coming to a close, and boy, what a fashion-filled year it’s been! From the accessories (chicken wing necklace!) to the shoes (light-up Nike Mags!) to the red carpet outfits (Lady Gaga’s egg ensemble!), there certainly wasn’t a dull moment over the past 12 months! So sit back, relax, and kick up those wedges as we roll out the best style moments of 2011.
We wanted to kick off “Best of 2011” with a bang, so obvi we chose one of our favorite topics first—nail art! This was the year of unconventional manicures, and we couldn’t get enough of all the killer nail art we kept spotting on all of our favorite celebs. Lucky for you, we rounded up the top 10 ladies who had the absolute best nail game this year—no questions asked. And trust us, this was HARD.
JESSIE J: BEST OVERALL NAIL GAME
Photo: Getty Images/@JessieJOfficial’s Twitter
You gotta give it up for Jessie J. This girl has THE fiercest nails in the biz, and she never fails to tweet every new mani she gets to make us all jeals (it’s a thin line between envy and wholehearted OBSESSION). It was nearly impossible to pick only four of her looks because, seriously you guys, her nail art is on a WHOLE other level. Her nail artist, Jenny Longworth, repeatedly kills it, and we love her ’80s-inspired neon tribal and leopard nails SO. MUCH. (Also, how long did that TAKE?!) She even makes the ol’ Big Cat print standby extra awesome by layering blue, yellow, and red polish underneath. Other gems include her stone-flooded, super-glossy black nails with various purple rhinestones and some fancy talon-shaped foil, galaxy biz-nass that is so cra-mazing we don’t even know WHAT to call it. Head. Splode.
KATY PERRY: BEST OUTFIT-THEMED NAILS
Photo: WireImage/@KatyPerry’s Twitter
Listen, we can talk nail art all day, but it takes a certain kind of gal to raise the nail game to where she MATCHES IT to her outfit. Katy Perry has mastered this beyond comprehension, as you can see above. At the VMAs, Katy showed up in an Asian-inspired ensemble (with matching nails of course) and then switched her nails up MID-SHOW to these bad boys—customized black and white checkered nails with “Katy” written on the pink and blue half moons to match her head-to-toe Dior couture ensemble. In July at a Smurfs premiere, she not only wore a rhinestone-encrusted Smurfs dress by The Blonds (hollerrrr), but she also wore equally sparkly nails replete with each and every Smurf from the movie. Needless to say, she Smurfed the Smurf outta these tips.
KE$HA: BEST CRACKLE MANI
Photo: Courtesy of Terry Richardson
The cool thing about Ke$ha’s nails is that she’s sporting one of the biggest nails trends to come out of 2011—the crackle top coat. This fast-drying polish is lightly brushed over a bright color and as it begins to dry, the cracks begin to form and show the color underneath. We have absolutely NO idea how it works, but Ke$ha’s crackle nails are a fun-filled hodgepodge of neon pinks, blues and greens, with some gold foil, a touch of sparkle and who KNOWS what else. Basically, this is the most diversified crackle mani we’ve seen to date.
LADY GAGA: BEST 3-D STUDDED NAILS
Photo: Getty Images/WireImage/MTV
We’re going to be honest here—we’re not sure if we’ve ever seen Lady Gaga without insanely amazing nails, so narrowing down her top looks was harrowing business. Here’s but a tiny sample of what the Gags rocked this year, and it seems like she sticks mostly to pointy, stiletto nails in red or black with a touch of heavy metal action. While in England this past May, she also sported fire engine red nails with gold and black studs, and in the same month, she flaunted shiny black tips that were dripping in pearls, rhinestones, and other metallic baubles that give her nails a layered, 3-D effect. At the MTV Europe Music Awards, she went with high-shine black tips and silver studs complete with an accent red pinky with gold studs lining her cuticles, and for an MTV special she opted for red and nude triangles with studded half moons. Complex geometry is right.
CIARA: BEST UNDERSTATED NAIL ART
Photo: Getty Images
Ciara always looks effortlessly stunning (having a RIDIC dynamite body definitely helps), and it seems like she enjoys the same confidence when it comes to her nails. She’s the queen of subtly amazing manicures, and we are on board. In May, Ciara unveiled black, inky-tipped nails on white polish with touch of teeny, tiny rhinestones for a bit of shimmer. In August, she went summer chic with some pink and white polka-dot strawberry nails. This is probably one of our favorite summery manis…ever. And that’s saying A LOT.
LAUREN CONRAD: BEST DIY MANI
Photo: Getty Images/@LaurenConrad’s Twitter
Hillsie Lauren Conrad has an entire website dedicated to beauty, so it’s no surprise that her nails are consistently RIGHT. She mastered a trend that was equally big on runways and fingertips this year—mixed prints. She went with polka dots, stripes, and a floral print all on one hand for a surprisingly cohesive look. She stuck to teal, light blue, silver, and beige tones to keep all nails from looking too bananz. (Pro tip: LC’s got scads more pointers on how to re-create this mani here!)
BEYONCE: BEST NEON NAILS
Photo: Getty Images/Courtesy of Dazed & Confused
Good Lord, this was a BANNER year for Beyoncé, wasn’t it? Sick videos GALORE, breaking the interwebs with the baby bump…so many memorable moments. And her nails were no exception. We adore her ever-bright, neon-saturated nails as much as she appears to love showcasing them. While performing in England in June, she boasted a deep red to pink gradient mani on some long, square nails, and in July, decided to stick with all neon pink tips with a green accent nail (perfect against her yellow crocheted onesie). Our favorite Bey look was definitely the neon green leopard Minx she chose on the cover Dazed & Confused this summer. The melting strawberry ice cream really brings out the green, no?
KREAYSHAWN: BOLDEST NAIL ART
Photo: Getty Images/Courtesy of I-D Magazine
Kreayshawn may be a newcomer in the music world, but she’s no fledgling in the smokin’ hot nail art department. She’s serious about her cuticles and we can absolutely tell. At the VMAs, she matched her nails to a sequined Mickey and Minnie Mouse dress. Her green, red, white, and gold mouse ear print nails complemented her dress splendidly, and on the cover of i-D, she sported some killer two-tone red, blue, and yellow half manis with leopard detail on top. Those nails next to THOSE eyelashes just slay us.
ALEXA CHUNG: MOST ORIGINAL DESIGNS
Photo: Getty Images/@Alexa_Chung’s Twitter
Just when you thought Alexa Chung was a trendsetter for only cuter-than-cute ensembles and ever-changing locks, she’s now dominating the nail scene, which means ALL bets are off! Alexa’s game consists entirely of top-notch artistry paired with a sense of humor and pop of color. Alexa kicked off the year at NY Fashion Week in February sporting some out-of-season (but certainly not out of style) green and brown palm trees on her fingertips. In September (at left), she went for some glittery ombre tips to perfectly accent her patterned dress. And for Halloween, she went with painted green eyes on all her digits and when she holds them up to her matching peepers, the end result is marvelous and sure to ward off any sideways evil eyes. Well played.
NICKI MINAJ: MOST PERFECTLY MATCHED MANI
Photo: Getty Images
Nicki Minaj wanted an explosion of color not only in her outfit, but on her nails too! At Lil’ Wayne’s album release party, she sported square, clear gels with hand-painted orange, green, blue, pink, and white watercolor tips. Her nails ooze warm, bright sunny days (sadface since it’s December), which was perfectly in keeping with her ensemble AND the season.