Still, it was hard to imagine a world in which people would be open to styling red in their everyday lives. A notoriously hard-to-pull-off color that is often linked to intense feelings of passion and anger, as well as crime scenes and cheesy Valentine’s Day merchandise, red has long been embraced by pop culture as a color that’s worn to symbolize a deeper meaning. It was a color that Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones, known for her disdain toward monogamous relationships and fiery approach to sexuality, often wore throughout the series. It’s also the signature shade of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s filmography, often associated with death, passion, and pain in movies like Volver and Julieta.
Yet, for the fall/winter 2023 collections, designers casually embedded red into their lineups, displaying it with the ease usually granted to blue jeans or white tank tops. Proenza Schouler featured a red A-line leather strapless maxi dress in their collection, shown alongside pieces like blazers and tailored shirts in a mostly somber palette. Theory went for a similar approach, showing head-to-toe monochrome red looks that were literally created as a working woman’s uniform. Other designers like Sandy Liang, Jason Wu, and Alejandra Alonso Rojas also delicately introduced the color in their lineups, without any passion-related gimmicks or ominous symbolism. Even if the Puppets & Puppets’ Carly Mark took inspiration from the 1988 thriller Dead Ringers, the use of red in flower pasties, phone-handle handbags, and sequined dresses, was more whimsical than tragic.
It’s clear designers are making it easier for people to introduce red to their wardrobes, from handbags and dresses, to shoes and monochrome suits. If the runways still don’t convince you, here’s how the Refinery29 team styles red — their way.
How to style red: go monochrome
“While a week ago, this neutrals-loving minimalist went on the record to say that she would never wear a red pantsuit or dress, I ate my words when, a few days later, I tried this vest-and-pants set after seeing it on a Banana Republic mannequin in-store. Thanks to the oversized fit, the suit is effortless enough to wear all summer and mix and match with other separates, while the punchy red color keeps it from looking boring.” — Irina Grechko, fashion director
How to style red: let the accessories do the work
“Ask anyone who knows me — bold colors are not my thing. But there’s something about red that has long enthused me, and last year, I decided to add a big scarlet pop to my wardrobe with this Prada Cleo bag. To my surprise, months later, it ended up being one of the defining colors of fashion trends for 2023, pushing me to add this pair of heart-shaped heels to my closet. I’ve worn the red bag with everything from a classic white shirt and jeans to a bikercore-inspired outfit for nights out, a testament to the versatility of red. But this black-and-red outfit combo is my favorite for date nights. While I’m still waiting for the color to catch on to other categories in my wardrobe, I think starting with accessories — be it handbags, socks, shoes, or jewelry — is a great way to start off with such a bold color.” — Frances Solá-Santiago, fashion writer
How to style red: just add socks
“My favorite place to wear red is on my lips, so when adding red to my outfits, I like it to have a similar small but bold pop. I love how a loud sock can really brighten a look, and this pair from Happy Socks does exactly that. To pull it together, I added a black oversized open button down with small pops of red to keep the look consistent from head to toe.” — Hannah Rimm, senior editor, Money Diaries
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