Beauty Queen

Seduced by the guava and mango shades at Richard Nicholl but worried that they will make you resemble a tropical fruit salad? Tempted by the quiet nudes at Stella McCartney but concerned that they are as draining as a flight to Australia? Nail polish is the cheat's way to dip a toenail in the choppy waters of the spring/summer trends without full commitment.

Essie Weingarten, founder of the nail company Essie, says, "Mesmerize, a royal, va-va blue in our new collection can complement your bold colour statements; One of a Kind and Lacquered Up – poppy red and hot crimson respectively – are perfect to wear with your summer florals, while Eternal Optimist, a spiced tea rose, and Flawless, a cherry blossom pink, can be worn with fashion that's taken a classical direction."

Not all the season's colours are an exact or complementary match for the clothes on the catwalk, however. Nail trends always have a momentum of their own, and some of spring, as opposed to high summer's colours, are out on a limb – or at least, a digit. Pale grey, which appears at both Nails Inc and Essie (the shades are Southbank and Sag Harbour respectively) was popular with the fashion crowd at the recent shows, while Easter-appropriate (how quaintly traditional, we'll all be in Easter bonnets by Stephen Jones next) yellow and blue are also key. Thea Green, founder of Nails Inc, recommends, "soft, milky shades of pastel, or a kaleidoscope of ice-cream colours like pistachio, lemon sorbet and duck egg blue". For high summer, she suggests, "deeper, brighter shades such as hot pink and coral, bold yellow and acid lime".

If you are baffled by choice, you can guarantee that Chanel's colours are always on the money and on the chicest of nails. Orange Fizz, from their Côte d'Azur collection which launches in May, is an easy-to-love coral with the added bonus of being named after a cocktail. Why not forget about trends and just plump for any shade that sounds as if it should be sipped al fresco on a warm summer's evening.