The Best Colors To Balance Out Your Red Outfits

As erotic novelist Chloë Thurlow puts it, "In red, you feel naked even when you are dressed." The ability to project intense, seductive power is a hallmark of the color red. From the sidewalk to the red carpet, a red outfit always slays the game. From Jennifer Lopez, who swept into the 2015 Met Gala in a striking sheer Atelier Versace gown appliquéd with a red dragon wrapping around her body, to Reese Witherspoon dazzling in a sultry red fishtail gown as she presented ”The Descendants” at the 2012 Golden Globe Award, Hollywood A-list stars know how to use the ultra-glamorous nature of red to their advantage.

An interesting fact about the unconscious power of red is that red cars tend to gain a disproportionate amount of scrutiny among law enforcement officers, Kyle Law Firm points out. Since red vehicles bespeak boldness, those who drive them are usually assumed to be risk-takers and even potential rule-breakers. Because red is naturally attention-commanding, it's considered an inappropriate choice of outfit color for a guest at most weddings. That's why it takes lots of confidence and conviction to rock a red dress. However, if you don't want the annoying attention that comes with wearing red, there are ways to dress down your vermillion outfits without compromising your sense of style. Below are several colors that make a harmonious accompaniment to red and make your outfit less in-your-face.

Red and light pink

While it's true that red and pink make a color-clashing combination, you can still rock the combo if you have the eye for it. Heidi Klum and Mandy Moore are among the celebs who managed to rock this contrasting color combo from the streets to the red carpet. Putting red and white in the same outfit used to be a big no-no as their shades are too close to one another, while the energy they send out couldn't be any more different. However, there's no hard and fast rule when it comes to styling, and there's no harm in pushing the envelope.

Feeling wise, a lighter shade of pink will make a graceful accompaniment to a deep red, like a tomato red coat and a dusty pink dress. If the shade of pink is so bright that it shares almost the same amount of intensity as red, the combination will clash. The key is to get the right balance of tones between the colors. For instance, you can pair a baby pink top with an electric red or burgundy midi skirt or pants and — to tame the look down — wear white or baby blue heels. Or, you can pair a vivid hot pink blouse with a rosy red skirt and complete the look with cherry red heels. If you're wearing an all-red outfit, you can use a pop of pink — like a scarf or boots — to balance out the look.

Red and purple

One of the simplest methods to utilize color-blocking techniques is to use analogous colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel. Since adjacent colors complement each other, they easily make a combination that is pleasing to the eye. That's why purple — a calmer cousin of red and also a symbol of royalty — can make a harmonious addition to your triumphant red outfit. Meghan Markle is the perfect reference for blocking a scarlet red and subdued purple for a graceful outfit. In 2019, Meghan Markle was seen making an appearance in Birkenhead wearing a red wrap coat from Sentaler with matching heels and a purple dress by Aritzia underneath.

You can pair your purple dress or romper underneath a red blazer or shrug, or you can switch the combo up and wear purple over red. If you wear three separate pieces, throw in another shade that sits right next to purple or red on the color wheel. For example, if you wear a red coat over a red-purple top, opt for a pair of red-orange pants or skirt to complete the look. Alternatively, you can pair red with a light shade of purple (red-purple) and a more muted purple hue (violet). For an all-red outfit, balance out your look with purple or orange boots or a waist purse. For a sultry red cocktail dress, a pair of velvety purple gloves will add a significant measure of elegance to your appearance.  

Red and blue

Red is from the warm half of the color wheel, and blue is from the cool half, which makes them a contrasting combination, per Lifewire. However, when used together, red and blue can make a dynamic and inviting combination that works for both casual and formal occasions. To soften a strong hue like primary or tomato red, pair it with calmer shades of blue such as baby blue, sky blue, and turquoise. Navy blue and bright red also make a striking combination.

For instance, a red sheath underneath a navy blazer makes a professional combo. Meanwhile, a red top softened by a baby blue or powder blue skirt or pants with matching headgear makes a joy-sparking combination. If you're headed out for a date, a red dress accessorized with a blue neck scarf and matching heels is an elegant way to go. If you lean into the preppy look, take it from @celia_lts, who cracked the code of color-blocking preppy colors with a combo of crimson, blue, and white. Showcasing her classic style in a comfy ensemble, she wears a chunky crimson sweater over a white dress shirt. She softens out her red sweater with a pair of mid-tone blue loose-fitting jeans and completes her look with white sneakers.

Red and white

Red and white are a match made in heaven. In fact, white is one of the rare colors out there that goes well with any color and lends almost any outfit a clean, put-together look. According to Sage Moon, a splash of white can magnify your aura, making you radiate a strong sense of confidence and a powerful presence. When an all-red ensemble comes across as too forceful for the eyes, pure white is the perfect color to tone it down and even lend it a more elegant touch. White and red also makes an excellent color combo for a festive occasion.

For recommendations on how to pair white with red, check out this stylish ensemble from @ninasandbech. Pulling a seriously stylish number on a blustery day, she dons a red jacket over a basic white tee and high-rise red and white fruit print pants. Her white shoes are the last touch that drives the whole look home. If you're a minimalist or layering is not your forte, you can simply wear your red top with white pants or skirt and matching shoes. If you're wearing an all-red outfit, consider wearing a white brooch or a white scarf around your neck to soothe the look and lend it extra sophistication.

Red and black

In fashion or in home design, red can never go wrong with black. While both black and red are strong colors and tend to overpower the other shades, they complement each other and can be used together to create an altogether intense combination. "This combination marches up and shakes your eyeballs by the lapels. It is impossible to ignore," says editor Jess Cartner-Morley from The Guardian. There are many ways you can pair red with black.

Take it from @bia.preda, who pulls out a seriously stylish number with a perfectly balanced red and black ensemble from head to toe. Underneath her red and white checkered coat is a black top and black leggings. Using pops of red to pull her outfit together, she wears a bright red belt accompanied by a matching purse and boots. Her vermillion red lips are on point, while her fiery candy-tinged locks make this look a home run. For a festive look, you can pair a black top with a raspberry or coral red skirt and a matching hat and boots. If you wear a monochromatic or a printed red dress or jumpsuit, a black leather jacket or cardigan is a stylish way to go. Since red itself is enough to light up your look, a splash of the color black in the form of a tiny belt around the waist, a headband, or a pair of boots also suffices to accent your overall look.