Reader Cat e-mailed me this question:
Mixing different reds: can one? Should one? How does one approach it?
I love red, and as a paleish brunette there are a few shades that suit me. But then the subject of accessories comes up and I’m left wondering if I need belts, bags, heels and flats in cherry, poppy, wine, geranium etc (not that I mind the idea of building such a collection, but I think my bank manager might object if I try to acquire it too quickly!) or whether they can be safely mixed. I was always taught not to, but I can’t help wondering if this is one of those rules that can be broken.
Although Cat’s query is red-specific, I think her question can be applied to any monochrome look. People have always felt free to do black from top to tail … maybe mix a little gray in there for fun. But non-black monochrome outfits were relatively rare for quite a while. Now, however, old color matching “rules” are out the window and one-color looks are touted as a way to flatter the female figure with a long, unbroken line.
Any color you love – and that loves you back – works marvelously for monochromes. But let’s go back to Cat’s red example for a point of reference. Here are some quick and easy ways to work up a stylish look based on mixed reds.
- Throw all your red items in a pile on the bed. Start pulling out ones that complement each other, especially in shade. Some reds have more blue or yellow in them, and you’ll see right away which ones will fight and which will play nicely together. You’ll also see that many of the reds you have are just more or less saturated versions of the SAME red. Those will look marvelous worn together.
- Consider putting some pink in the mix. If you’ve got raspberry shades, hot pink, magenta, or fuchsia available, they can really pull the mix together.
- I think red accessories are always a worthwhile investment, as red mixes well with all neutrals. BUT! If you aren’t in a position to run out and buy a red belt, bag, and shoes, never fear. Brown is gorgeous with red mixes, as is gray. If you’ve got either on hand, try those out for now.
- If you do decide to get some red accessories, don’t worry about covering the gamut of reds. A bright blue-red (like a fire engine) is probably the most versatile in accessories. You can build red outfits around those, but they’ll also look amazing with brown, black, gray, navy, animal prints …
- When you are getting closer to nailing your first red monochrome outfit, consider this: More than three shades of red is probably overkill. Get another color or a neutral in there, too.
I realize that the color red scares the pants off many women, but you can tailor these tips to any color you fancy. Collect all of your items in said shade, consider adding a lighter colored cousin to the mix, explore which neutrals work best with your shade, and limit yourself to three color variations within an outfit. If you’re going for blue, I’d suggest navy accessories as opposed to cobalt, olive green rather than kelly … but it’s really a matter of personal preference. In my opinion, bright red looks vibrant and sassy, while other brights can look like overkill … but not everyone feels that way. Use your judgment and trust your taste, friends.
Originally posted 2010-04-27 05:53:00.