Gray nails
Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D
Jessica the enthusiastic beauty editor obligingly played guinea pig a couple of weekends ago, painting her nails with an unusual dove gray polish. Once it dried, she grabbed a notebook (for jotting down reactions) and headed into her neighborhood for a typical Saturday afternoon of chores. Here's what she got:

"What's that going on with your nails, girl?" (Grocery store cashier, inspecting the pigment from a safe distance.)

"I could never pull that off." (Heavily tattooed coffeehouse waitress.)

"Wow, that shade is so...interesting." (Friend, trying to be kind.)

While gray—and navy—are considered great, classic colors, "I can't remember the last time gray or navy nail polish was a trend," says Leatrice Eiseman, author of More Alive with Color and executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. So why are those shades appearing now? "We're in a time of big changes in the world, and [basics like] gray represent stability. Gray nail polish also suggests uniqueness; wearing it, you're making a statement about being a bit offbeat," says Eiseman. If you like offbeat, you're in for a treat: Eiseman predicts canary yellow polish for next year.