Nautical Vibes: Anchor Nail Art for Summer

As the warm weather rolls in, it’s time to break out the nautical vibes! Anchor nail art is the perfect way to showcase your love for all things oceanic while looking chic and stylish for summer. Keep reading to learn about the history of anchor nail art, different ways to sport this trend, tips for DIY designs, and how to incorporate anchors into your own unique manicure.

The History Behind Anchor Nail Art

Nautical designs, including anchors, have been popular in fashion for centuries. However, anchor nail art didn’t become mainstream until the early 2010s. Some credit its rise to the preppy style trend and others think anchors were a natural evolution from the polka dot manicures of the late 2000s. Regardless, anchors quickly became a staple summer nail look.

anchor nail inspo

Part of the appeal of anchor nails is their association with summer fun. Anchors conjure images of ocean voyages, sandy beaches, and relaxation. They represent a longing for adventure and the carefree days of warm weather. Plus, the simplicity of basic anchor shapes makes them easy to recreate at home or at the salon.

Basic Anchor Nail Designs

Some of the most classic takes on anchor nails simply involve painting a single anchor on one or two accent nails. The anchor itself may be done in a neutral color like black, white, or navy with the remaining nails in a coordinating bright shade. Glossy finishes give the look a nautical vibe.

For those wanting something more subtle, miniature minimalist anchors on a single nail can add a pop of interest without being over the top. You can also paint thin anchor outlines in white over a base color for a fun negative space design.

basic anchor nail art

Painting just the top of anchors peeking over the tips of nails is another way to imply the shape without going full-on nautical. This looks great with white tips on a navy blue mani, for example. Or try alternating between different colors for the tips and bases.

Creative Color Combos

You aren’t limited to the traditional navy, white, and red color palette when it comes to anchor nails. Get creative with bold brights and unexpected combinations!

Neon shades give anchors a modern pop. Pair fluorescent pink, green, or orange with neutral anchors for an electrifying look. Or go for head-to-toe neon by matching brightly colored anchors with even brighter backgrounds.

bright anchor nail art

Metallic anchors in rose gold, silver, or gunmetal on top of rich jewel tones like sapphire, emerald, and ruby red make for striking manicures. Don’t be afraid to mix and match either – a gold anchor on a violet background is totally eye-catching.

Anchor Accents

If you want to incorporate the look of anchors in a more subtle way, try accenting your nails with smaller anchor details instead of full designs:

  • Add mini anchors to one corner of nails as an accent
  • Use thin striping tape to create vertical “rope” lines and place tiny anchors on top
  • Paint on horizontal waves and dot with mini anchors here and there
  • Create tiny anchors on the tips of accent nails
  • Use anchor shapes within geometric patterns

anchor nail accents

The options are endless when you use anchors to embellish other nail art instead of as the main event. This opens the door for more creativity and customization.

DIY Anchor Nails

Recreating this popular nautical nail trend at home is easy with the right polish and tools:

Nail Polish Necessities

Having the right polishes makes DIY so much simpler. You’ll want base colors in classics like navy, black, white, and red. Metallic polishes in silver, gold, and rose gold add flair. Don’t forget bold brights and neon shades too.

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A good top coat is a must for smooth, shiny finishes. And for cleanup, keep cotton swabs and a small angled brush soaked in remover handy for tidying up the edges.

nail polish essentials

Tools and Tips

Dotting tools allow you to paint even, consistent anchors in miniature. Look for a pack with different sized round heads. Striper brushes work wonders for straight lines like vertical ropes or horizontal waves.

Paint your dominant hand first so you have a steady hand for your non-dominant side. Always finish off with a good top coat to lock in designs and add that signature glossy nautical shine.

Use nail art tutorials for inspiration, but don’t be afraid to make designs your own! Add personal flair with non-traditional colors or by combining anchors with other elements that have special meaning to you.

nail art tools

Summer Style Anchor Nails

Now that you’re prepped on how to recreate this popular nail trend, let’s talk about how to style it for summer. Anchor nails complement the season’s fashion perfectly.

Breezy Nautical Looks

For laidback nautical style, anchors match perfectly with striped tees, denim shorts, and canvas slip-on sneakers. Add a touch of glam with dainty jewelry like a thin gold necklace or shell bracelet.

Or channel a sailor vibe with high-waisted white denim, a navy and white striped crop top, and classic boat shoes or espadrilles. Don’t forget the breton striped hat!

nautical fashion

Beachy Vacation Style

Planning a tropical getaway? Anchor nails pair perfectly with summer’s hottest vacation-ready looks.

Try a flowy maxi dress or jumpsuit in a tropical print – the bold colors and patterns will pop against neutral nails. Just add bamboo hoop earrings and strappy leather sandals.

Or go casual-chic with high-waisted denim shorts, a ruffly off the shoulder top, big round sunglasses, and flat metallic sandals. Don’t forget the beach waves!

beachy vacation fashion

Bold Brights

Make your anchors the star of the show by matching neon nail colors to bright summer wardrobe essentials.

Highlighter hues like hot pink, lime green, and electric orange look amazing with cutoffs and tanks in the same or coordinating colors. Just add bold jewelry and fun accessories like circle bags or cat eye sunglasses.

Or embrace color blocking with anchors in one eye-catching shade atop a background of another. Pair with solid colored rompers or dresses for a look that pops.

bright summer fashion

Anchor Inspiration

Not sure where to begin with your anchor nail designs? Look to these stunning real life examples for inspiration on ways to rock this trend.


Tiny subtle anchors along the cuticle of one nail or minimal outlines on a single accent nail keep things simple yet nautical.

minimalist anchor nails


Make anchors pop with vibrant shades like coral, mint, violet, or sky blue against equally bright backgrounds. Rainbow designs are fun too!

colorful anchor nails


Add sparkle to your anchors by coating them in glitter polish or glitter topcoat. Silver, gold, and iridescent glitter keep it nautical and festive.

glittery anchor nails


Abstract hand-painted anchors in cool designs and shapes give this trend an artistic vibe. Paint them over oceanic backgrounds for real impact.

artsy anchor nails


Anchor nail art allows you to showcase your fun, fashionable side while reveling in summer vibes. With so many ways to sport this trend – from minimalist to bold and artistic – you can customize this look to match your personal style.

Anchors add nautical flair to any warm weather ensemble. So break out those reds, whites, blues, and golds and sail into summer with stand-out nail art. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!


What colors work best for anchor nails?

Classic nautical hues like navy, white, red, and gold metallic are timeless choices. But neon brights and unexpected combos offer fun twists on this trend too.

What other nail art styles pair well with anchors?

Anchors look great with horizontal wave stripes, rope/cable textures, and seashell or starfish designs. Geometric patterns and florals also complement anchor accents beautifully.

How do I do anchor nail art at home?

Use dotting tools for uniform anchor shapes. Striper brushes help create straight lines. You’ll also need a steady hand, patience, a top coat, and angled brushes for easy clean up.

Should I do my anchor nails all one color?

You can, but mixing and matching colors and patterns makes for really eye-catching designs. Try alternating colors on different nails or pairing brights with neutrals.

What fashion styles pair well with anchor nails?

Nautical staples like stripes, denim, and canvas shoes complement anchor nails. So do vacation-ready looks like tropical prints and beachy waves. Neon brights pop against highlighter hued anchors too.

Kimberly J West
Kimberly J West is an experienced SEO writer and copywriter with a passion for nail art and a love for house plants. With five years of experience, she combines her writing expertise with her creative spirit at Contact Kimberly at for collaborations and inquiries about her writing services.