From electric Chinese red to deep wine, red apparel has been a fashion color since it burst onto the European scene in the middle ages. Once reserved for royalty, today red is the most frequently used color for consumer packaging because of its eye-catching appeal.
Crimson is a power color; only kings, queens, and royalty were allowed to wear it in some cultures. It was expensive to create from the ground-up dried remains of a certain insect.
Red can be a great accent color when used for accessories. It is festive for the winter holidays through Valentine's Day.
The meaning of the color red cannot be reduced to any one thing. Its meanings are diverse and contradictory.
Scarlet is a color of status, celebration, and of cozy comfort. According to Joan DeJean, historian, Louis XIV showed off his legs by wearing scarlet heels to draw eyes to shapely calves encased in tights.
Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV's mistress, so loved red that she used a lot of it for decorating.
The famous courtesan reportedly died resting comfortable in a favorite red-and-white striped chair.
Red was terribly costly in those days, because it is made from the cochineal beetle.
It was expensive to import this insect from Mexico to Europe in the days when a ship's voyage took months.
Add to the that, the color extraction process also was difficult.
Red never goes out of fashion.
It is most popular in the U.S. from the Thanksgiving holiday through Valentine's day.
There are so many shades and hues of red, it would be impossible to list them all. Diana Vreeland popularized Chinese red, a bright almost orangey shade. Burgundy has a touch of blue; it is rich, jewel-like, and saturated. It is usually used for fall and winter clothing. On the other hand, red with a bit of white in it results in saturated hot pink, a spring and winter color.
Here are some ways to use red apparel in your wardrobe.
If you want to make an unforgettable first impression, buy a red trench coat, pea coat, blazer or poncho. You will be noticed the moment you walk in the door.
A red suit is a power suit. It suggests a person who is confident and even bold. Be sure to choose a shade that complements your skin tone.
Winter skin tones will look best with a warm red with blue undertones. Orangey-reds, such as Chinese red, may be better with a warm or olive skin tone.
A gray top is a perfect complement for any shade of ruby, softening the impact of a scarlet womens business suit. On the other hand, a black or white top will create vivid, dramatic contrast.
Wear this suit with black or gray shoes and accessories.
A white top may be accessorized with a navy or medium-blue scarf and blue shoes for a classic red-white-and-blue combination.
Red dresses are compelling.
A flirty red dress is perfect for holiday celebrations from Christmas through New Year[s, clear on to Valentine's day.
The perfect little red dress is almost as important as a wardrobe must as the famous black dress.
The allure of the woman in the red dress is so compelling, there is even a Hollywood movie devoted to one man's pursuit of his fantasy.
A red blouse sparks a suit of most any color -- black, brown, tan, gray, blue, white, gold, and many shades of green, such as deep forest green.
Red accessories punch up most any outfit. If you are not quite ready for a red topcoat, add a red muffler, red bag, and red shoes.
In sum, red apparel is a fashion stand-by. Winter, spring, summer, or fall, from crimson to blazing scarlet. It occupies a special place in our wardrobes - simultaneously a color that stands out and is a fashion staple that never goes out of style.