In the 20s and 30s it was considered a little “extreme” to paint your entire fingernail.
The “moon” manicure or reverse French Manicure was far more common. Often with the tip of the nail also left unpainted.
I am utterly convinced that I read in a beauty manual belonging to my Mother (so probably from the 60s or 70s) that you should leave the moon bare to allow the nail to “breathe”. This would have been somewhere around 20 years ago, though, so tracking down whatever book this is now would be nigh on impossible and you’ll just have to take my word for it.
It always seemed like a bit of a faff to me, I’m more than capable of messing up a regular manicure, without the added difficulty of trying to get perfect moons. However, in the interests of research I decided to give it a try. I went hunting for hole reinforcers to use as guides, but my totally useless local stationers didn’t appear to have any (what if I’d had some holes that urgently needed reinforcing?) so instead I bought little dots.
I decided to paint the moons a pinky beige and use my bright pink Nails Inc polish for the rest of the nail. I can confirm that it was a total faff, especially trying to do my right hand. I actually quite like the effect though, so I might try it again. From a distance it looks pretty good, but close up it’s a little messy. Like I’m fond of saying, though, practice will surely make perfect.
On a couple of nails I peeled off a little of the bottom coat of polish removing the stickers and I’m a bit disappointed with the contrast, the beige polish is too close to my natural nail colour, next time I might try using a lighter shade, or even just an extra coat of this one.