I grew up going to Fashion Island. My first time journeying to this luxurious mall in Newport Beach, Calif., I thought my mom was taking me to an actual island. It seemed like it at the time too, because we drove a while to get there, and when we did, the koi fish in the ponds outside of one of the big anchor stores were my favorite part.
Since moving to Orange County, I have looked at Fashion Island in an entirely different way. Now it is a convenient stop on my way home from work when I feel the urge to shop, crave a cupcake, or am meeting friends for a nice dinner. So I was completely caught off-guard when during a routine Nordstrom stop I noticed the Style Bar along the back of the store. Because I work for NAILS Magazine, I no longer peruse the polish counters at big department stores. It occurred to me that there was some square footage at a Nordstrom in Orange County that I had possibly never shopped, so I hurried over to see what the Style Bar was all about.
Much to my surprise and glee there was a gorgeous nail bar set up. Two manicuring stations face the perfume counters, while rows of drawers and shelves piled high with polish face clients. A sink sits to the side. Virtually every polish line Nordstrom retails is present on its mirrored backdrop. Brands include butter LONDON, Deborah Lippmann, Estee Lauder, Chanel, Ciate, and Nordstrom’s own nail polish. I had to make an appointment, which is easy to do since the manicurists’ business cards can be found on the tables, complete with a QR code to make booking easier. I suggest booking in advance, since the store’s hours tend to differ from the manicurists’.
Many shoppers have the same excited reaction when they encounter the nail bar. During my visit alone there were two walk-in clients. Although it’s natural for shoppers to turn into nail clients, most adhere to the appointment preferred policy. Interestingly enough, not many shoppers buy a nail polish then take it over to have it applied at the nail bar. At Nordstrom’s version of a salon, it is all about the service and not so much about retailing to people, which could explain the bar’s success.
Two licensed manicurists work at the Nail Bar inside Nordstrom Fashion Island. Terri Doty, a manicurist of 24 years, did my nails. Doty is available at the Nail Bar full-time and brings with her a diverse background in nail services. Having done acrylics for years out of a salon in Bakersfield, Calif., she has since moved on to doing freelance and film work in addition to her job at Nordstrom. The biggest trends she has noticed so far at the store? “Short nails are in, along with colors of the season. Most people choose Shellac. I think more natural nails are definitely in,” she says. While the nail bar doesn’t offer a wide array of nail art, manicurists can create glitter fades or an accent nail with hearts etc. Despite the huge lacquer selection decorating the nail space, the nail bar’s selection of CND Shellac and OPI GelColor (the only two non-lacquer lines offered) are by far the most popular picks. CND Additives are used by Doty to add extra bling to the latest collections. And as you would expect of Nordstrom, they have the latest Shellac and gel-polish offerings to keep you current. Gloves and sun block are available for those who are apprehensive about curing, and you can even book a pedicure at the nail bar too (they use Footsie Bath).
I am happy to say that Nordstrom (known for excelling in customer service) does not disappoint in the realm of nail care. While you might worry that getting your nails done in the middle of a popular department store could take away from the relaxation, you would be completely wrong. In fact, you might see more and more nail bars in department stores, as this is already a common occurrence in Japan and the East Coast. A coordinator from the Style Bar comes over right away and offers you a beverage. All three Nordstrom Nail Bar locations (the others are at the Grove in Los Angeles and in Roseville, Calif.) have licensed manicurists taking care of you, meaning someone who knows the nail industry and has vast experience. Doty not only strives to educate clients about CND Shellac and gel-polish services, but she is able to work quickly and efficiently, not to mention, she has experience manicuring the nails of celebrities such as Emma Stone and Sean Penn. And if you have to wait a few extra minutes for your appointment or want to show off your mani afterward, you are in the heart of Nordstrom — the perfect place to browse while you wait or pick up a new ring to accent your service. The shoe shine service in the shoe department is a place in the store where men are encouraged to visit the nail bar, proving that the service isn’t just for female shopaholics.
My CND Shellac (coincidentally, the founder of CND also had the last name Nordstrom) glitter fade in Cake Pop went on smoothly and was followed by a lovely hand massage. For only $30, this mani was quite the bargain by Nordstrom standards, especially since it will stay on my nails for approximately two weeks. Nordstrom Card holders should definitely take advantage of the nail bar since it can help members rack up rewards points. Just because it’s Nordstrom doesn’t mean you can’t book a return visit either. Doty says she has many returning clients. After all, who wouldn’t want to return to Nordstrom every two weeks?
I highly recommend this nail bar that is as luxurious as the remainder of the store and shopping center. With reasonable prices and quick service from an expert, your time and money are well spent here. If you plan your day right, you can work your way down the Style Bar, stopping for hair and waxing services as well. Once you look and feel your best, enjoy all the dining, shopping, and entertainment Newport Beach has to offer.
The Style Bar | 901 Newport Center Drive| Newport Beach, CA 92660