Q Are manicures appropriate for men? My boss gets his nails done often (I think at least monthly), and I feel it gives the impression of his being overly consumed with his looks.
A I guess my first question is, unless he has told you, how do you know he has had a manicure? You should not be able to detect that a man has had his nails “done.” If the manicurist merely cleans, trims and shapes the nails, that is fine; but any obvious polish is considered inappropriate.
Your hands are always on display and fingernails tell a lot about a person. It’s important not to ignore them. A business or professional man has no excuse for hands and nails that look less than perfect.
That said, all the equipment you need is a pair of clippers and a nailbrush. Men’s nails look their best when kept all the same length — short — and scrubbed clean. As an aside, did you know that the turn-off most consistently mentioned by women is dirty fingernails?
There are various levels of grooming, and while they are all personal, there are certain levels below which one seems unprofessional (and/or disrespectful to colleagues) and other levels of personal care, above which may strike others as a turn off. These include attention paid to hair, skin, beard, nails, breath, cleanliness, neatness of clothes, how well they fit, and the state of accessories (shoes, briefcase/messenger bag/knapsack, etc.)
The impression that these grooming elements make on others is a lot greater than you might imagine, as proved by the fact that you are aware of your boss’s nails. A few examples of both extremes, either overdoing or not paying enough attention, include:
• Hair that is too obviously colored,
• Skin that is too apparently “bronzed,”
• A beard that is too strangely sculpted or too scraggly,
• Nails that are not clean, or are too shiny,
• Breath that reeks of tobacco,
• Spots or stains on clothing,
• Shoes in need of a shine,
• Clothes that don’t fit well, such as too-long trousers that bunch at the bottom.
These “too much” and “too little” grooming mistakes tend to make a man stand out … for the wrong reasons. They show a lack of care, even not being clean, or, when they are overdone, they can come off as inappropriate.
Generally speaking, most men do not have to worry that they may seem too well-groomed or overly well-dressed. Interestingly, a man who is overweight never has to concern himself that he looks too good. On the other hand, the good-looking model types should be careful not to appear too perfectly well turned out. There’s a not-too-fine line between a man who is well groomed and one whose overuse of fragrance and grooming products makes people wince. Yes, good grooming means making an effort and caring, but it should not look like you care too much.
Since no one is expected to be an expert in every field, it can be a wise decision to get input from a pro. If, for example, you wear a beard or a mustache, go on occasion to one of the best barbershops. See how he trims and grooms it. When at home, simply follow his trimming lines.
In the same way, and to return to your question, I do recommend an occasional manicure just so you can see how short to clip your nails, how much to push back your cuticles, and how good your hands can look. Again, do not under any circumstances allow anyone to put polish on your nails. Even clear nail polish has a noticeable, negative connotation that says off-putting things about you.
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