Inspirationail Colour School – What To Wear With Red

By Inspirationail

Inspirationail's Colour SchoolWelcome to another week of Team Inspirationail’s Colour School, if you haven’t already be sure to check out lessons on the basics, warm & cool hues, tints, shades & tones and colour combos. This week we are going to get up close and personal with red.

An Educated Guess

Although it may seem like a no-brainer, it’s a lot more difficult than you may think to decide on a varnish colour when you are wearing red. Quite frankly it depends on your look, the impact you want to have and where you are headed. Red is a power colour so it’s important that you use it right…remember, too much red and you look like a cherry. No one wants that.

Here are a few tips you can utilize to help you decide what to wear with your red.

Radiant in Red

When used properly red can be your best friend, and just the right amount can glam up an otherwise boring outfit. Essentially, how much red you need depends upon how much red you are already wearing.

Inspirationail's Colour School

Skin Tone Matters

For lighter skinned divas we like we like richer reds with warm (especially golden) undertones – regardless of the intensity of the red itself. Remember, the darker you go, the paler you look. Darker skinned lovelies have it much easier where red is concerned, warm reds, cool reds, you ladies can wear it all. However, we do recommend avoiding super vampy darks and sticking to lighter tones.

Primary Red

Regardless of how much red is in your outfit, we usually think it should be avoided it when it comes to cosmetics and accessories (that generally goes for pink too). Red is one of three primary colours, and that actually makes it a bit more more difficult to match. To learn more about primary colours be sure to check out our colour basics lesson. There are several ways you can use your colour wheel to help you decide what to wear with your red.

Colour Wheelsl

Complimentary Colours

Complimentary colours are opposite each other on the colour wheel and provide a very high degree of contrast. Calling them complimentary is someone’s idea of a sick joke because red’s compliment is green. In this case we don’t recommend pairing the two unless it’s December (& even then, it’s questionable). If you simply must try warm limes, sparkling grass or soft, barely there sea foam.

Analogous Colours

Analogous colours are directly next to each other on the colour wheel and tend to be more matchy. Red’s nearest neighbors are reddish-orange and reddish-purple. Again, red’s sheer strength makes even these similar hues difficult to match. Try a neutral rosy coral, vampy, dusky purple or a purple with golden undertones.

Colour Wheelsl

Triad Colours

Triad colours are equally spaced out along the colour wheel & similar to compliments they offer super high contrast. In red’s case it’s yellow and blue (both also primary colours). This look had it’s day in the 80’s but we don’t generally recommend pairing these colours. If you like the pre-school look, try deep navy, sparkling sea blue or going more gold than yellow.


Split-complimentary colours start with one base colour and then take the two colours next to it’s compliment. Sounds confusing, but the concept is simple. When we use red as our base, it’s split-compliments are greenish blue and yellowish green. We recommend sticking closer to the yellowish-green family if that’s the case.

Roses on the Road

Team Inspirationail’s Picks

Quite frankly, red is hard to match & it’s difficult to pick anything other than neutral shades to wear next to it. We like glittering charcoal grey, matte black or pearly white.

Your Two Cents

In the end, you have to make the decision…and we don’t wear much red for that very reason. Hopefully we’ve given you a few ideas to help you on your way. Please leave us your red-matching ideas in the comments below, we need all the help we can get! Plus, stay tuned because we have more fun planned next week with the much more agreeable pink.


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