Myriam Clifford is disappointed in me. Myriam, whose career in this business spans more years than mine and who herself commanded a major polish company for a long time, is complaining, in her very diplomatic way, about my “color rut.”

“You are a representative of the professional nail industry,” she says, “and you’ve been wearing that same color as long as I’ve known you. You should be a walking billboard for color and fashion.”

Despite my long career in the professional nail industry I am unadventurous when it comes to my own nails. Of course, I’m willing to try anything, but you’ll usually see me in the same short, square red nails I’ve worn for years. Blues are in? Yes, Cyndy is wearing red. French manicures all the rage? Yes, see Cyndy in red. Purples, yellows, greens, darks, pales, you name it, it’s crossed my desk. And yet, Cyndy is in red. 

So the next time I see Myriam I’m wearing a pale purple. I wave my hands extravagantly and gesture to get her to notice that I am wearing something not even in the red family. Finally, frustrated, I ask her, “WHEN are you going to say something about my nails?” “Purple’s out,” she says, with a helpless shake of her head. “OK, fine,” I say, “give me some polish. I’m getting out of my rut!”

Next, I try Myriam’s recommendation of a deep coral orange. The hue makes sense for my coloring. I love orange so much it’s all over my house. And yet, it’s not quite right on my nails. It looks flat, rather than blending nicely with my freckles (which, now that I’m so self-conscious, really are beginning to look like liver spots). Out comes the acetone, off comes orange.

Finally, Myriam’s last suggestion: a very deep purple, almost black. I liked the look of it, the dark, short squarish nails. They looked like a style from the 1940s to me. But then a friend asks, “You? You’re going Goth?” I guess that’s what happens with fashion: What looks like 1940s to me, fashionably retro and still chic, looks anachronistic to someone else who’s been keeping up with the times.

I give up. I take off the final experiment in color and I slip back into something comfortable, and something enduringly fashionable. I am once again the Lady in Red. This business is about options. Red is not a rut for me now. It’s my signature.


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