September 30, 2011
Red is hot. Scorching, even.
It was the major color story on — what else? — the red carpet at the Emmys this year. And it's not just television stars in their freebie designer gowns who are red all over.
Walk into any clothing or accessories store and you'll find wares in every reddish hue from brick to stop-sign bright.
Why red? Why now? It's the economy, stupid.
"It's a really optimistic color and I think everyone is feeling a little uncertain," says Rokhee Kim, senior vice president of women's design for the Express chain, where shop windows and stores are brimming with all things red for fall.
"I think red is an instant mood booster," adds Susan Swimmer, fashion features editor of More magazine.
And in these dire times, I don't know a recession-weary soul whose mood couldn't use a tuneup. In other words: Wear red to beat the blues.
Kim points out that something red "can easily refresh" what you already have in your closet. "It's an easy way to inject newness without having to flip an entire wardrobe," she says.
"Is there anybody who can't wear red?" I wondered. "You're asking the wrong person," Kim replied. "I love red on everyone. Even if it's (just) red lipstick. I love red lipstick, even on a redhead."
Whether it's a lipstick, a blouse, jeans or a jacket, there's a right red out there for you — but it might take some trial and error to find it. Bluer reds often are the best choice for those with fair skin, while reds with some orange work well with darker complexions.
If you're not ready to add Coke-can red to your wardrobe or makeup kit, Kim suggests trying shades of beet, burgundy or bordeaux. They're not quite so look-at-me, "but make you feel like you're taking part in the trend."
The Express catalog shows a beautiful young blonde looking red hot in the brightest shade of the season wearing a tomato-colored jacket, shirt, pants and shoes. But for the not-a-gorgeous-model majority, Swimmer raises a red flag: "Do not wear it tip to toe."
Instead, ground your major red piece with camel, gray or black.
And if you do chose a memorable garment, "It's best when the red piece is uncomplicated. Avoid ruffles. Let the color do the talking for you," Swimmer says.
Not ready to plunge fully into the red zone? Get your feet wet with just a pop of color in a belt, bag or shoe, keeping everything else neutral. (See some great options in our photo gallery here.)
Speaking of neutral, Swimmer says that if you're wearing red near your face — a shirt, coat, scarf — choose a neutral lip to avoid a costumey Miss Firecracker overdose.
In fact, just like candy, pizza and Champagne, with red it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
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