DIY Nail Art Tutorial: Breton Stripes + Gold Glitter

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{Blazer - H&M. All other photos by me}

Nothing says spring to me quite like the Breton stripe. Every time warm weather rolls around, I find myself reaching for this adorable classic, and with temperatures already hovering around 80 degrees here in D.C., my yearly stripe binge has officially begun. But this season, instead of just throwing on a nautical top, I've been on a striped manicure kick.

A few weeks ago I showed you guys how to create a nail look inspired by the beautiful, colorful stripes at Marc by Marc Jacobs. This time around I was feeling inspired to create something a little more original and unique, and this is what I came up with - a design based on classic Breton stripes with brass buttons. Here's how to recreate my Breton stripe and gold glitter manicure in just a few simple steps!

Nautical Nails 101

Read on for all the details on how to recreate this simple, springy look.

What You'll Need:

  • Base coat
  • White polish - mine is Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear in White.
  • Black polish - preferably with a thin brush for making nail art, but a regular brush will do just fine.
  • Gold polish - and, if you have it, gold glitter polish. I used Milani 3D Holographic Lacquer in "510" for the dots and Sephora by OPI Top Coat in "Only Gold For Me" for the tips.
  • Dotting tool - you can pick up a professional one here, but I made my own by using the tip of a mechanical pencil with the led retracted. Other household items that could work are the flat heads of pins/bobby pins, the bottoms of matches and the ends paper clips. If you're willing to get creative, I promise you can find something that will work beautifully.
  • Top coat

How to Do It:


  1. After applying a base coat and letting it dry, paint your nails white. You may need 2-3 coats to get even, opaque coverage. Wait until your nails are dry to the touch before moving on.
  2. With the black striper polish, create four evenly spaced horizontal stripes across each nail, starting just a little bit below the nail bed and ending with the tip. If you don't have a black striper, I explain a technique for making stripes using scotch tape here.
  3. Next, create gold dots on the nail to emulate the brass buttons that are so often found on Breton stripe pieces. Take your dotting tool and, using the polish brush that comes with the bottle, dab a bit of gold polish onto the tip. Then make little dots in the middle of each white area between the black stripes, so it forms one vertical line of gold dots all the way down the nail.
  4. Optional: To add a bit more sparkle to your manicure, take some gold glitter polish and put it on the tip of the nail on your index finger, and on more of your nails if you're feeling extra sassy.
  5. Slap on a top coat and you're done! However, a word of caution: Make sure the black stripes are completely dry before applying a top coat. On my first attempt, I didn't wait long enough and the black polish streaked a bit, which was very noticeable on the white background and ruined the crisp, clean look of the manicure. Don't let this happen to you - give it a good half an hour before you put on your top coat.

The Results

Breton stripe nails

While I had originally set out to create something that felt like spring, I think it turned into a look that would be appropriate year-round. The stripes feel nautical, but the graphic black and white is seasonless. For me, the single glitter tip is fun and unexpected, but it could certainly be left off if you are going for a cleaner, more simple manicure.

There are thousands of variations of stripes in clothing, and there can be just as many on your fingers - there is so much you can do with this basic template. Try it with trendy neons, sophisticated nudes or cool metallics. You can even draw inspiration from the striped pieces already in your closet!

Sound Off!

Do you love stripes as much as I do? Would you ever put them on your nails? Is there a specific clothing item that gives you spring fever? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

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