How To Be A Lady In Red: Tricks For Choosing The Right Shade For You

As iconic as the little black dress, but decidedly more difficult to wear, the red dress is not for the faint of heart. You cannot argue with its overt sexiness or drop-dead glamour, but in the wrong shade, fabric or cut, red dresses can look just plain wrong. In the hopes of helping you embrace this knockout piece, we’ve come up with a few simple rules to ensure you achieve head-turning status. 

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  • We’ve rounded up some red carpet home runs to illustrate our tips for wearing the color with grace.

  • Lea Michele
    Photo credit: Paul Zimmerman/WireImage

    Lea Michele – Cranberry:

    At the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth event in New York City earlier this month, Michele chose a red, sheer, embellished Dolce and Gabanna lace dress. While this could veer into Vegas territory, the rich, darker blue-red hue of the dress, as well as the sleeves and calf-length of the skirt keep the look ladylike. This robust red is particularly great for blondes and pale-skinned ladies.

  • Elisa Sednoaui
    Photo credit: Karwai Tang/Getty Images

    Elisa Sednaoui – Fire Engine Red:

    Sednaoui attended the Pirelli Calendar’s 50th Anniversary celebration in Milan wearing a dress from Fendi’s S/S 14 collection. The bright color works with her complexion due its orange undertones, which complement her olive skin and deep brunette hair.

  • Lily Kwong –Tomato Red:

    For the 10th Annual CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Awards Dinner, Kwong opted for a vibrant red Altuzarra cocktail dress. A high neckline, long sleeves, and a structural peplum temper the racy color, while her jet-black hair and porcelain skin provide a perfect canvas. This shade is ideal for darker complexions and brunettes, whereas it would be more of a challenge for a sunny blonde, as it could read too “Barbie” in a color this bright.

  • Rose Byrne
    Photo credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Glamour

    Rose Byrne – Crimson:

    The patterned velvet devore of Byrne’s Jonathan Saunders F/W 13 dress helps to soften the blue undertones in this burgundy shade. Byrne smartly opts for a rich red lip and a gold clutch, which warms up the look and prevents her from looking washed out. Steer clear of this color if you have darker skin tones, it looks best in contrast to paler skin.  


  • Arizona Muse
    Photo credit: Fotonoticias/WireImage

    Arizona Muse – Scarlet:

    The model donned a custom red Louis Vuitton F/W 13 gown for the Marie Claire Prix De La Moda Awards in Madrid, showing that a demure style can feel fresh in a vivid red. The open neckline distances the color from her face—which is a helpful tip for those with fair complexions and or a tendency to flush easily—and the elbow-length sleeves and floor-length silhouette make this look read lady instead of tramp.


  • Lupita Nyong'o
    Photo credit: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/French Select via Getty Images

    Lupita Nyong’o – Strawberry Red:

    For the ’12 Years A Slave’ Paris premiere, Nyong’o opted for an embellished shift from Elie Saab’s Resort 14 collection. The bright sequins and matching red Nicholas Kirkwood pumps shone against her dark complexion. Note that Nyong’o opted for paired down make up to allow the dress to take center stage.   

  • Lover

    Rosebud Lace Dress ($697) in Scarlet

  • Antipodium

    Autobahn Shirtdress in Silk ($369) in Grenache

  • Nha Khanh

    Crepe Hi-Lo-Hem Dress ($395) in Red

  • Tibi

    Simona Jacquard Zip Front Dress ($365) in Lipstick Red

  • BCBG

    Imogen Tulle-insert Gown ($498) in Bright Poppy Combo

  • Asos

    Petite Midi Skater Dress ($73) in Oxblood

  • Kate Spade Saturday

    Strapless Panel Dress ($160) in Neoprene

  • Notte By Marchesa

    Shrug-effect lace dress ($695) in Scarlet

  • Rag and Bone

    Geneva Sleeveless Dress ($325) in Red

  • Warehouse

    Lace Insert Maxi Dress ($118) in Berry


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