How to Wear Red


Karen asked me if I could do a post on wearing Red – as she bought a pair of red shoes in Paris, and was thinking that maybe they looked a bit ‘clownish’ – so here are some tips.

How to Wear Red by imogenl

Red comes in many guises – from bright to dusky, from warm to cool, light to dark. The right red will make our skin glow with health, the wrong red will make us look like Rudolf the red nose reindeer. Check which reds suit you best by holding up a host of different reds under your face in good lighting, and dropping each in turn and watch as the colours change how your skin reacts to the particular shades, tints and tones of red.

Some of the garments and accessories that work best in this flamboyant colour are red coats – what a great way to liven up a dull winter day, red shoes and red handbags. These all team really well with neutrals from black and grey, brown and camel, navy and white. It’s so hard to go wrong by mixing red with a neutral.

Unless you have a very dramatic personality, red is not usually great to be worn head to toe, keep it to one garment at a time, or 2-3 accessories (shoes, belt, necklace for example). Too much red can overwhelm us and aggravate our senses. Red has been show to stimulate and give us an appetite, but it can start to annoy if overused.

Softer reds are easier on the eye and less bothersome to look at for long periods of time. As we age, we usually need to soften down the reds we wear – check to see if your red is wearing you or you are wearing the red, by shutting your eyes and then opening them – is your gaze drawn to your face or the red garment? If it’s to the garment, consider toning down the colour, it will make you look slimmer and younger than a too bright red.

If you have red shoes, team them with some flattering neutrals, and play a game of dot-to-dot, drawing the gaze from the shoes up the body via belt, necklace, bracelet, top or earrings to your beautiful face. If you wear all neutrals and then just red shoes, our gaze will get stuck on your feet. Avoid wearing more than 3 red accents at one time – no need for overkill.

Choose your reds from the same family – bright and cool with bright and cool, avoid mixing warm and cool reds for best effect.

Do you like to wear red?

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  • Finally! Now I know why people have been gawking at my feet. I love red shoes but always wear them with all black.

    Thank you for your wisdom! I am new to you but already, I am loyal fan.

  • SWC – thanks for dropping by!

    yublocka – I love red in all forms – I have red saucepans and red couches. If it’s a colour you love, keep it around you as it gives you energy. Just be aware of others reactions to you in it – if you ever feel that others are overwhelmed by you in it – then maybe wear a little less at a time, mix it with a dark colour to balance it.

  • This was a great post — I learned a lot! I’ve had red shoes for a while. Now I finally know how to wear them. 🙂

  • This is a great post. I have found that I love to look at red but I don’t like to wear it. I really prefer to wear black and white. Same with my home design. I like color in other’s homes, but I always stick with neutrals. That red trench is really nice though!

  • Red is my signature colour. I have a whole lot of red and I had dozens of red shoes. I wear a lot of black, as you know, and red really ups a neutral like nothing else.

    I have red pots, red kettle, red cuisinart as well as lots of red lipsticks. Red attracts my eye like a mag pie.

  • I love wearing red! I just bought a pair of red patent clogs yesterday…just for fun.

    Your tips are really helpful – I always learn on your blog!

    Hope you’re having a great weekend…

    :^) Anna

  • Red is my favourite colour and I do have several red items of clothes, as well as bags, shoes, coats and scarves. You’ll be relieved to hear that I don’t wear them all at once.

  • Love it all, but the comment about playing ‘dot-to-dot’ really sticks with me, drawing the eye up from red shoes towards the face via accessories…and only 3 red accents at time. I learn so much here!

  • Recently I have decided not to have or wear red (like in your examples). In summer I go red with the heat and lots of red just is too much. Two things though: I have found a light orange-red (coral?) that has been in this season is so much softer and looks better on me. So I bought lots of tops in that color. And after a long time I have also bought red flat ballet shoes (slight orange tinge). I reckoned a long time back that I should have red shoes but I didn’t want crimson or dark red. I love my new red shoes and wear neutrals and they are a pop of color. It is interesting to think about these things. Thanks

  • I am 73 yr old and have a flamboyant personality. My coloring is cool with salt and pepper hair and blue-grey eyes. This year I learned that shades of pink are my friend as they make my skin glow. I love unusual color combinations. So I plan to try my few red items with shades of pink or peach.

    Because my personality is dramatic and outgoing, I prefer to not draw attention to myself with my clothing. I am now only 5’1″ and wouldn’t want to overpower myself. However, I love your advice about using one unusual, signature piece to add interest to each item.

    I thrive on your ideas. Thanks for changing my life. I recently met a man. I had thought that would never happen again. (wink)

    • How fun for you Carol to have met a new man. Playing with colour in different ways is fun – and finding what you love makes you feel so much better in your outfits.

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