Style Stories

What does a red accent do for your outfit?

There's never been a better time to wear some red
by Leandra Medine Cohen
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There are three things we know for sure following the unveiling of the Spring collections: The shorts are going to be very short next season (they’re basically underwear).

Bottega Veneta Spring 2024 (Milan), Coperni Spring 2024 (Paris)

A detail shot from Stella McCartney’s Spring 2024 show

Sheer mania is just getting started,

Another interpretation (this one from Dior) of the many ways sheer presented on the runways this season

And the color red will continue on with its campaign to hold the position of Best Color Choice to make right now.

Details from The Row’s Pre-Fall 2024 show (shown last week in Paris)

That red has become such a hot ticket in fashion represents to me the onset of the slow death of minimalism in fashion. This is chiefly because the easiest way to get into that trend was to deprive oneself of print and color, to opt for clothes that probably resembled what we were already wearing, but in more neutral palates — and thus the easiest way out now may be to add a bit of color.

Psychically, there might be more to it, because red represents so many things beyond just a call for attention: action, stimulus, love, fervor, passion, aggression, anger, and so forth. And when consumed in the wrong dosage, red can be as painful as it is pleasurable. Look no further than the fairy tale of The Girl in the Red Shoes.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been stand-out indicators on many of the recent runways that make a strong case to go all in.

Prada Fall/Winter 2023 (current season), Proenza Schouler Spring 2024 (next season), Alaia Spring 2023 (last season)

Miuccia Prada post show, February 2023

But unless you can nail the balance so precisely, tip the scale so that it’s exactly even on both sides, it can yield a lot of intensity. Maybe more than you are going for. So practically speaking (and with the exception of the photo of Miuccia Prada above), I say red is best served in one’s day-to-day used in moderation — as an accent point more than the main event.

A look from Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection

It can contribute to the desired wackiness level of a look as seen above at Gucci or it can function as the sum of an outfit’s character. Some demonstrations of what I mean, more suited to one’s day-to-day (and the potential, practical implications that come with it) are here, starting with a look to break up dark neutrals:

Soeur white poplin tunic and green turtleneck dickie, Maria McManus bike shorts, Toteme riding boots

The other way I assembled this looked more like:

LMND shirt, High Sport skants (if you have a khaki mini — or any short a-line, really, wear it over a pair of straight pants), old Celine brogues (these are hell to break in, but worth it once you’ve done it)

This solid red silk one from Etsy looks great, and though this one isn’t silk, it is very soft. I’d recommend it to style over a camel coat, too.

But in the end, I liked the bike short variation a bit better. The motivation with both the same: take something utilitarian and add an accent of whimsy (the silk scarf), made more dynamic because of the color of the scarf. It gives the rest of the look a little lift — and in the second instance, accentuates the necklace I put together (it’s actually a bunch of rings and one dangling earring that looks like a pendant strung through a spiral choker) as part of the whimsy.

Disrupt the minimalism.

Skall Studios denim shirt (this from A.P.C. is good for more of an overshirt vibe) and turtleneck (this is a solid alternative from Uniqlo), The Row khakis (this is the same fabric, but different cut; would also try these) and shoes (these from Tory are very different, but honestly I think perfect as an accent to grey wool socks, and potentially more versatile too because of the kitten heel; also love these suede flats from Manolo, on Gilt), Swedish Stockings socks

Sylvia Toledano bag (I kind of love this one); there are somanytreasures between Etsy and TRR

Khaki and denim are colors emblematic of American workwear and sportswear — of minimalist accessibility. When you add a red accent (could be as strong as an undershirt or as slight as a pair of shoes), you add a new dynamic to the tried and trues that make it fun to play with more accents, like a glittering, hard hell clutch.

Red also thrives as the pulse you add to an otherwise look of basics.

Bouguessa blazer (the alt), Damernes rosette, Rouje jeans (the style is called St. Germain; have my eye on these lately too), Sebago loafers (in black with beads here)

There is a negligee-style Khaite tank under the jacket too

This is another interpretation on the above denim/khaki look, but made with more “corporate” casual basics (the blazer, rly) and the red accent in this instance serves the same function but on an otherwise quadrant of the look. The big gold pinky ring (Paola Sighinolfi) and wrap bracelet play into the same let’s-get-fancy vibe.

Red can assert your presence, capital P! (So, actually, what I mean is Presence.)

Tried and true reds! Veronica de Piante black dress (this one from Khaite is 50% off but this velvet number from Loulou Studio for $290 is the real winner here), Calzedonia tights, Chanel heels (I lovethese too. And these are so good)

A great dress on its own, but a statement when interpreted this way. You know?

I also like it to offset gold like this:

Falke socks (these seem pretty reasonable) and old Chanel sandals — here are a few alts I would recommend that will work the same way (the trick is nailing the shade of gold; you want an almost acidic yellow gold) even if they don’t look the same.

Over the complete tableau of a weighted look like this:

Herearethree (four) (wait, no, 5, and this is the best of one!) the best fringe jackets I’ve seen lately. Khaite t-shirt (Everlane’s and Cos’ both do similar things), The Row pants (if you have a pair of plain black trousers that you are comfortable hemming, I recommend cropping them to achieve the same effect).

It tucks in nicely to the sum of a soft look.

How to wear underwear shorts in the winter: here’s an okay base layer red turtleneck, I’d like it more if the neck were less slouchy (and I think this is the exact one I’m wearing but with three-quarter sleeves?), and one boxy cardigan, one slightly oversize cardigan from Uniqlo to style with non-pants, plus some 🔥 hot pants🔥. Actual black shorts, right this way. If you prefer a pair of loafers, I like these from Aeyde, or Macian makes good clunky lace ups too. The bag is Michael Kors (reminds me of this hottie).

And can somehow break down tougher wears:

Admittedly though it’s not that easy to move. Halfboy jacket, CH by Carolina Herrera men’s shirt (here is a good alternative for you from Polo), Courreges skirt and Camilla Elphick flats; maybe the red is worth a try? The white crew neck underneath is key! So don’t forget to add it.

You can call this pairing the warm red heart you’re always trying to protect with all those layers of coping mechanisms that masterfully shroud it, but only if you want.

As a standard accessory within a standard look, red thrives as a pair of shoes:

Studio Odes boots, Sessei brown button down (I wear a sz 36 in it), Brock jeans (these on sale from Re/done are a good alternative)

Or as a bag.

Boo! A couple of black button-down options that aren’t Ines or LMND: I have a version of this one from H&M and this one from Everlane, which is pique (polo material). The skirt is Doen (this one’s nice too), the shoes are Emme Parsons and the bag is Savette. Two alternative options for you righthere. Also

Try it even as a pair of gloves.

By Malene Birger gloves (which, yes, I did put a ring over), Beaufille shirt, Emi Mess pants, Khaite boots

It gives an instant uplift to the rest of the outfit.

But your accent doesn’t have to be so straightforward. It can be a main event transformed into a side dish, like this sweater tied around the waist in one instance:

Sezane car coat, white t-shirt, Ciao Lucia sweater, Saint Laurent skirt, Prada shoes

But worn balls to the walls in another:

Ciao Lucia sweater (this one is lovely), Khaite pants (same same but dif) and boots.

Part of why this one works is because of the balance — the other elements (snake pants, gold boots) are personality pieces in their own right.

Your red accent can be as slight as a dash of lipstick —

Too close? Delarge sunglasses, Ana Khouri earrings. Rosie Assoulin caftan dress (this feels like a very chic alt and for some reason, I’m also compelled to show you this), Hyova hand-crochet flats (they come out to like $185 in usd)

Or as daring as pants under a formal dress.

The equation to recreate this look is: technical pants (these are High Sport; Tory’s sport pants are pretty good too), party dress. It doesn’t have to be mini (big old Celine energy w this one), but I do like how the length interacts with the kick flare (that orange fringe dress in partic would look so nice with navy trousers or brown ones). The neckline and sleeve sitch on the dress can be whatever.

The key thing to remember is that it’s your tableau, your dosing call. So do what feels right — bring in as much or as little fire as is necessary to warm the home of your person.

Some key pieces, most of them cultivated from the above, below in collage form:

From top left: Cafe Leandra x Pure Cashmere wrap cardigan, Bottega Veneta red bag, Dear Frances patent leather pumps, Mango red vest with florette, Manolo Blahnik brick red suede ballet flats, Hermes silk twill bandana scarf, Giorgio Armani leather jacket ($225!) and…

Two more lower stakes options for good measure: Illesteva sunglasses, By Malene Birger gloves

And that concludes this edition. Have a great week,