Looking to add some color to your style? In this guide, we’ll cover how to add red to your closet piece by piece.
Red is one of the boldest colors you can add to your wardrobe, but surprisingly it is also one of the most versatile.
Red is versatile because it looks great on most skin tones. It brings out the rosy undertones in one’s skin and creates great contrast between dark and pale skin. With just a little knowledge, any man can confidently wear red.
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Psychology of Red
If you’ve heard of color psychology, then you know that different colors evoke different emotions and correlate with various cultural meanings. Out of all the colors, red carries some of the most powerful connotations.
Depending on your culture, you might associate red with confidence, power, romance, anger, or a whole range of other emotions.
For the purpose of this guide, let’s focus on how red connotes confidence.
Many guys shy away from wearing red because it will undoubtedly attract attention. This means that it takes some confidence to wear it regularly. While it’s easy to become preoccupied with what emotions color can evoke in other people around you, let’s focus on how wearing red can make you feel.
Embrace the confidence and the power of choosing to wear such a bold color. Over time you’ll become more comfortable with the extra attention. People will notice this added boost of confidence by how you carry yourself. This is the real power of wearing bold colors like red.
Of course bright “in-your-face” red isn’t appropriate for every occasion, or for every article of clothing in your wardrobe.
When to Wear Red
Should you show up to a black tie event in a red suit? Probably not. That will likely attract the wrong kind of attention.
The thing to remember is that brighter shades of red are going to draw more attention and feel less formal than more muted reds. Reserve the bold reds for casual events or nights out. Add subtle reds for more formal occasions.
If you’re new to wearing red, an easy place to start is mixing it into your casual wardrobe. It’s a lot easier to experiment with your casual attire than it is with more formal outfits.
As you become more comfortable wearing red, you can play with different shades like burgundy, rust, mauve, or even shades of pink. You can add subtle pops of red or, if you’re really feeling confident, even incorporate red into the main pieces of your formal outfits. As with anything in style, gauge your comfort level.
How to Wear Red
For this guide, we’re going to break it down by item. We’ll go from t-shirts to suits to give you a sense of how to incorporate red into your wardrobe.
I’ll give you ideas of when to wear bold and bright red and when it’s better to stick to more muted tones. I’ll also include when bright and subtle reds are equally viable options.
What to Wear with Red
We’ll cover this with each item, but red pairs well with most colors. It compliments warmer tones and contrasts well with cooler tones.
If you’re just starting out, I recommend sticking to blues, greys, and warmer yellow and orange shades. If you’re going for a true, bright red, the only color you really want to avoid is a bright green. Red and green only pair well in darker or muted tones.
16 Ways to Add Red to Your Wardrobe
Now that we’ve gone through some of the basics of wearing red, we’re ready to break it down by item. We’ll start more casually and gradually build into other items and outfits.
#1 Red Tees/Graphic Tees/Henleys
This is the easiest place to start. Red t-shirts, henleys, and graphic tees with red elements are great statement pieces.
Pair with basic shorts or pants in a neutral color (tans and navy) to build some contrast and you’re golden. You can also layer neutral jackets or button downs over them to tone down the look.
This is a perfect opportunity to pair different shades of red. Test out what you like the most and what feels best.
The key to making a tee or henley work on its own is fit. Make sure the tee fits you in the chest and shoulders without being too short or too long.
#2 Polo Shirt
Polos in red are a good way to smarten up the color. You can wear them casually and untucked with shorts and pants.
Your other option with the polo is to smarten it up with a sport coat or blazer and tailored trouser like Brock did here. Keep the other pieces simple and you’ve got something appropriate for the office and a look that will grab some good attention.
If you need something a little softer in terms of color, skew to burgundy or pink shades instead of a bright red. In an office setting, bright red can be distracting.
#3 Casual Button Downs
Casual button downs work well in red. That’s because you can choose to wear solid red shirts in softer materials like linen or go for patterned shirts.
My favorite way to style a bold red shirt is to leave it unbuttoned and throw on a good contrasting or complimentary tee underneath.
#4 Dress Shirts
Let’s cut to the chase, do not buy a fire hydrant red shirt for the office. It’s going to be way too much.
This is where you can explore different patterns with more subtle shades of red. They’ll add a great pop under a suit, or on their own with tailored slacks.
Burgundy is a great choice when it comes to sweaters. A bright red sweater can lead you into ugly holiday territory.
This goes for thick and thin sweaters. If you’re doing some layering, try a half zip or v-neck sweater in a darker shade of burgundy with a white oxford underneath. It’s a look that never fails.
#6 Jackets and Outerwear
Although a statement jacket is always a good way to add some variety and stand out, I wouldn’t recommend the brightest red here.
My go-to choice is a burgundy bomber jacket. It’s a classic jacket style with a nice twist when in burgundy.
Jackets with structure are an easy way to make an outfit feel more styled without too much effort. Bomber jackets look good on everyone.
#7 Topcoats & Overcoats
A burgundy overcoat is a real statement piece. It’s also one that will serve you in casual and formal settings.
It will pair with darker neutrals and brighter warm tones as well as your go-to business casual outfit.
#8 Sports Coats and Blazers
Yes, it is possible to wear a red sports coat or blazer. Since it’s likely that you’ll be wearing these jackets for dressier events, you should ask yourself if a bright red sports coat is right for you.
Is this an occasion that you want all eyes on you, or would you be better served with some subtle boldness?
If the event is flashier, like a party rather than a date, you can more safely opt for brighter reds. At a party, the attention is fun. However, if you’re attending something more formal, it’s safer to go for something in the burgundy family of reds.
#9 Red Shorts
Shorts are a great option for experimenting with red because they take up comparatively less visual space in your outfit than most of the other options we’ve explored so far. They’re a good way to tiptoe into wearing red.
Deeper red tones here always look great, but feel free to try a brighter red or a bold pattern that incorporates it as well. Then pair with a simple tee or shirt.
The style and fit of shorts matter here too. Like everything else in your wardrobe, shorts look best when they fit well.
#10 Red Pants
Red pants are definitely a courageous choice. Red and burgundy chinos have become more frequently offered by various different brands, which has made them an increasingly common staple.
Go for muted or pastel tones of red if you want to add that twist without feeling like you’re wearing a costume. Pair them with some simple colors. Grey works especially well with shades of red.
Personally, I like my
Use colors like grey, black and blue in the rest of your outfit to offset the red in your
Men can wear red boots too. They’re actually more common than you’d think.
Oxblood boots offer great contrast and bold details without sacrificing the rugged feel of a boot.
If you’re looking for red in your boots, oxblood is a safe bet. More and more boot brands have started to offer this type of option in their traditional designs.
Even a red suit is not off the table. The shade of red you choose for your suit depends on the occasion.
A darker shade of red will give you the most versatility. It’s flashy enough for a party and formal enough for the office– even more so if you wear them as separates.
When to wear a bright red suit is definitely situational. It’s going to work for parties and nights out, but don’t expect it to pass muster for anything even remotely formal.
If this is your first red suit, go for something more versatile.
#14 Ties and Pocket Squares
Little pops of red are often a good idea. Ties and pocket squares are the best way to add a splash of color. Since these accessories are small, you can go wild with bright red or patterns and not overpower your grey or navy suit.
Test out different shades of red with your go-to suited looks and don’t be afraid to go bright.
#15 Watches and Bracelets
I’m lumping wrist accessories together for this one because they basically serve the same function here. You can wear red in the form of red beaded bracelets or red-faced watches.
Adding accessories like this to an outfit help incorporate pieces of your personality. A little red detail here goes a long way.
Beanies, baseball caps and hats in general offer another red option. Again, since they’re a smaller portion of your outfit, they can add a great pop of color.
This is your chance to experiment with brighter props of color against darker or neutral colors.
How Will You Wear Red?
Red has potential. It can be a bright detail or an understated twist in your wardrobe.
So many items can “go red,” but it’s up to you to determine what makes you feel the most confident in the color.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them down below!