The key to wearing red is taking another bite at the cherry and rethinking your preconceived notions of the color. Weave it into your wardrobe by pairing it with fresh, sophisticated, and unexpected tones—think couplings such as mint and tourmaline, icicle and strawberry, and onyx and wine. It’s time to recontextualize the loud, vibrant color and set your outfits aflame.
Red is imbued with symbolism—historically, red clothing served as a marker of social status (red dye was a luxury), political authority, and even religious rank. Red has long been representative of power, courage, and passion. Due in part to its rich history and in part to the intensity of its pigment, red is a statement tone—and as such, the thought of wearing it can be intimidating.
Wear red with bravery. Certain color pairings can tone the charge of red down, making it look relatively subtle, while other colors enhance its warmth. Because red is such a forceful hue, it’s easy to create interesting sartorial conversations by simply juxtaposing it with other colors.
Here, an array of different tones to wear with red to produce a multitude of effects. For each, we’ve outlined outfit options that will make you look and feel powerful.
Gold is a rich, warm tone, and it brings the heat of red to the forefront. It’s a luxurious look that’s well suited for the holiday season. Both of the colors in this pairing are incredibly forceful, so keep the formula simple. Pair a gold skirt or a column-esque gold dress with a red shoe, evening bag, or clutch—or keep things simple with something like this gold and red dress by Autumn Adeigbo. Red and gold can also be worn together in a casual manner—think a pair of tomato red jeans worn with a silky gold button down, turtleneck, or jacket, and well-worn sneakers. For a bold work look, wear this incredible gold plaid jacket by Lisou with a pair of red trousers.
Gray brings a crispness to red, making it cooler in all senses of the word. Slip into a seductive red mini skirt and elevate it with a slouchy gray turtleneck. For a very office appropriate iteration of this color combination, wear a pair of gray trousers with a classic ribbed tank top and a red velvet blazer. Silver chills red and refreshes the pallet—any of these gray items can be subbed for silver, and a shimmery silver slip dress, worn under the velvet blazer with a choker or lariat necklace, is the perfect outfit for any event on your calendar.
Black is a go-to shade for many of us, so it makes red feel a bit more quotidian. It calms the fire of red down, while still exuding a bold vibe. Wear a red pleated midi skirt with a simple black long-sleeve shirt. It’s a sleek outfit that can be worn to the office or out for the evening. Wear it with knee-high leather boots in the cold weather seasons, or pair with minimalist black sandals in the warmer months. To make this look a bit less intense, consider a tomato red or maroon shade, in place of a lipstick red.
Pink is an unexpected choice, and yet it works—especially a light pink. Try a pale pink dress, or one that combines both hues for a simpler choice. If you’re just foraying into wearing red, adding a red handbag is a great option. You can even bring a powerful punch to your work wardrobe with a red tote bag.
Denim is spectacular with red—it makes it casual and cool. Keep it simple in a red sweater, an incredible turtleneck, a silk button-down, or a cherry-and-white classic Breton shirt with a pair of jeans, or, for work, a pair of denim trousers. Any fade will work, from very washed to navy blue. Elevate denim and red with a chic black or camel handbag. If you’re wearing an all-red outfit, tone it down with a pair of playful and chic denim sneakers.
White makes red feel crisp, clean, and fresh. A pair of fiery red pants are perfect with your favorite well worn white T-shirt, or wear a red blazer such with a sophisticated white dress. Look pulled together in a long, red knit dress worn with ivory heeled loafers. You also can’t go wrong with a white trench with an attention demanding red dress.
Mint green, Listerine, and sage, which are also unexpected choices, bring the depth and heat of red out, and create high contrast looks that work. Think an aqua green top, worn with a matcha green bracelet, and a bright red handbag. Tuck a mint green tank top into a dressy red skirt. Or make a minty silk dress more interesting with a show-stopping red accessory. A little red goes a long way.
Red is a hot, fiery hue—and when worn with these colors, you have easy-to-assemble equations for instant cool. It’s difficult to place a finger on why exactly these combinations work, but they do.