The Perfect Coral


Even though I can only see one toenail  here, I am desperate to know everything about the nail polish that Marilyn has on her toenails. What brand? Did she do it herself? Was it chipped on the other toes? Smudged? But mostly, I just want to know what the colour was.

It goes without saying that I yearn to know what each of those books behind her is, as well as what she is writing

It is a very specific kind of movie star coral that I have yet to find in real life. It turned up a lot in the late 50s and early 60s, and is similar to the lipstick that Julie Andrew wears in The Sound of Music. But it is also in a lot of 30s dramas. The best recent example of this was earlier in the year when it cropped up in Upstairs Downstairs. My sympathies were with Lady Agnes, what with the whole having her baby so unexpectedly thing, but really I was just looking at her nails.

Childbirth: it makes you all hot, but very elegant

That colour is just such a lovely semi-matte, not-too-pink, not-yet-orange,  piece of perfection.


And the manicure is always nice and short when you see this colour. Practical. It’s a colour that looks deliciously polished but doesn’t radiate ‘STAND BACK EVERYONE I’VE JUST HAD MY NAILS DONE’. It just looks, well, rich.

A gorgeous colour, but I wish I could push those rings back a bit. It makes me nervous.

All of this is lovely. But I can’t find a modern equivalent anywhere. So far, I have tried Jessica: Enchantress, Models Own: Clementine, Chanel: Ming (!), Chanel: Orange Fizz, and Deborah Lipman: Girls Just Want to Have Fun. No dice.

Chanel's Spring/Summer colours. Do I dare to dream?

I have some small hope for next year’s Chanel: June. But I’m still not sure. I wish I just knew what Marilyn had.


6 Responses to “The Perfect Coral”

  1. 1 Emma Ford

    Hi, I’ve just spent half an hour trying to find out which beauty brand would have been available in the 50’s that she might have worn (day off and up early). No luck though. Have you tried Essie yet? They have a page of coral’s here and I think Chubby Cheeks looks close to the photos:


  2. Hmmmm, I will investigate! x

  3. 3 Peta

    Yes, I too have been searching. Have you tried a Revlon one – think it may be called A Perfect Coral or something. Looked pretty close to the elusive colour but haven’t tried it yet. Love the blog x

    • Oh I love A Perfect Coral! I do have it but it’s a bit too modern ‘summer in Long Island’. BUT I have got my mitts on the Chanel and am dying to test it. It just feels too summery at the moment. Maybe I will try it when Upstairs Downstairs is on!

  4. 5 Emma Ford

    Hi, Is this another siting of the elusive Coral finger nails and on the recent Marilyn actress (I can’t quite tell if it is) :

  5. 6 uomo maturo

    interesting 😀

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