Style Myth Busted

I Can’t Wear Red…

Happy day, reader dear!

And Happy Wear Red Day!

February is Heart Health Month here in the US, and the first Friday of February is always National Wear Red Day. I don’t think I’ve met a single person whose life has not been affected by heart disease. I can always use an excuse to wear some red, so it’s time to get some red on!

Now I regularly hear people say “I can’t wear _________.” (Fill in almost any color you can imagine!) I’m not sure I’d use the word can’t in this context. Sure, there are colors I don’t look good in and you won’t catch me wearing, but to say can’t implies that the color police will come and snatch you! Granted, there have been color laws. Laws such as: Only the emperor can wear purple (Ancient Rome). Only the empress can wear yellow and the queen, red (Medieval Korea). Prostitutes wear yellow (Venice in the 1300’s). Or those same ladies must wear a black cloak (1300’s Milan). Other laws have required marginalized groups to identify themselves by wearing a particular color or item of clothing to make themselves known. We’ve all seen images of the yellow arm bands or badges required of Jews in Nazi Germany. History aside, let’s turn to the present…

Who Can Wear Red?

Thank goodness I don’t have to be a queen to wear red! And you don’t either. Everyone can wear red. It’s about the red you choose! That means picking YOUR red. If you’ve read (No pun intended, but I’ll leave it there!) my Color Primer, you know that every color (hue) has three properties, Value, Intensity, and Undertone. (Overtone is something else completely.) Finding your red is about finding the red that works for your value, your intensity, and your undertone. I get into that in more detail here in: Rock a Red Lip!

Red run from the palest pink to the deepest wine. And everything in between!

Yes, there are colors that don’t have variations! True black is always dark, bright, and cool. Pure white is always light, bright, and cool. Orange is always warm; you just can’t make a cool orange. But you can find warm and cool versions of every other color. And light and dark of every color. And softer and brighter.

So… If you love a color that You can’t wear, don’t write off the whole color family! Look a little more widely across the spectrum. You might just find YOUR perfect red. Or green. Or yellow. (Mine is light and lemony.) If you have a color (or two) in your closet already that you love and that doesn’t suit you, try the tips in this post. (They work for any color, not just black!) And red? There are hundreds of reds!

How About You?

What color predominates in your closet? Is it good for you? I mean, really good for you? What color can’t you wear? I usually change that phrasing to It doesn’t love me… The wrong color is like a bad boyfriend, I’m not likely to keep it around. OR make an investment in it! (A cheap and cheerful flower brooch? Sure. A winter coat? No, thank you.) Do you wear red? Or do you struggle to find your red? Do tell! I love to hear from you!

Stylishly yours,

There’s even a Virtual Dance Party, people! I may have to go!

Playing with Red



    I will be wearing red today. The American Heart Assc. saved my life as a child because I was born with a heart defect. I will always sing their praises! My red is a poppy red. I also love a warm and soft red for a jacket or leather goods a soft burgandy. I so look forward to your post!

  • Lise

    Hi Liz, looking at the pics above I’m a Cool and Dark red. Pale skin, blue eyed, dark brunette. However I am transitioning to my natural silver, light gray hair so will I be a Cool and Soft red in the future?

    • Liz K

      Yes, Lise! Your undertone won’t change, but our coloring softens with age and becomes both lighter and softer. So a soft cool red sounds right up your alley!

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