For such an unabashedly upfront colour, red can be deceptively difficult to wear. On the one hand, it’s bold and uncomplicated, and true reds will suit almost every skin tone. On the other side of the coin, the raw power of the hue can make potential wearers feel a little squeamish.
After all, red is the colour of passion and overt sensuality; of emotions worn literally and figuratively on the sleeve. It’s also a key colour trend for spring/summer 2015, with rich, vibrant tomato-like tones threaded through many of this season’s key collections. We’re not talking sleepily subtle reds here – no dark berry shades or innocuous burgundies allowed.
But that doesn’t mean red should only be worn by the brave. In fact, it’s relatively easy to harness the full potential of such a high impact colour. If crimson is a hot flame, then darker, safer shades are dying embers. And this SS15, it’s all about burning bright.
On The Runways
From a hint of carmine on shirting to scarlet three-piece suits, red was omnipresent on the SS15 runways.
But just because the hue is now everywhere doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be everywhere all at once. Many designers opted instead to use red in a more minimal, artfully wearable sense that can be easily translated to everyday use.
This is the collection that answered the eternal question, “What’s black and white and red all over?”
At Balmain, Olivier Rousteing added red to duo-chromatic, geometric slabs of ghost white with black or navy, while jackets and jersey zip-ups in moto silhouettes were smartly disjointed with vibrant slashes of crimson.
The Balmain man is a very French sort of rockstar; instead of Cobain-esque plaids, outerwear was paired with crisp stripes – of both the ‘go faster’ and Breton variety.
This edginess was complemented by on-trend sportswear elements, with biker jackets teamed with red panelled jersey trousers. It’s the kind of outfit that a young Evel Knievel might wear to Cap d’Antibes:
Lanvin’s spring/summer 2015 showcase was a masterclass in subtle impact.
The brand’s menswear designer Lucas Ossendrijver proved that economical use of bright red could be both elegant and atmospherically moody. In a collection that was overwhelmingly dominated by darker colours, simple and minimal highlights of red – hidden behind blazers, tucked under jumpers and smartly obscured – let in some much-needed light:
Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana are the masters of romantic red – the colour of blood and hot-fire passions. It’s the kind of red that is, frankly, a little terrifying to wear.
The occasional burgundy suit seemed almost conspicuous in its wearability; elsewhere the reds were brought out with embroidery and embellishment.
During the finale, the models marched en masse in different permutations of the same three-piece suit – both single- and double-breasted – all in the same standout shade and material that looked almost as if it were lit from within:
Red was an anchor for Gucci, who used accessories in a muted wine shade to slash through an understated colour scheme of black, white and blue.
The addition of a broad red bag strap worn diagonally across the chest gave an almost piratical edge to what was otherwise a straightforward, nautical collection.
Potentially staid double-breasted blazers and pressed, creased trousers were given a youthful update; jackets were worn without shirts underneath, while legwear came smartly cropped to an inch above the ankle and was teamed with minimal white trainers.
Elsewhere, bold red knitwear and chinos were toned down with vertically striped, slim-cut trousers and navy pea coats, respectively:
How To Wear
So, how can you introduce red into your own wardrobe this season? Let’s start with the biggest statement a man can make: the red suit.
Although there’s no getting away from the fact that bolder versions can smack of Santa Claus, vibrant red suits are often difficult to source; you’re more likely to find slightly darker, wearable alternatives in rich berry shades or lighter pastel hues on the high street.
Yet whether you opt for a bright cherry two-piece or subdued burgundy number, the advice remains the same: keep the accompanying pieces pared-down and muted – think a crisp white shirt/tee and simple monochrome Derbies/trainers.
Don’t go overboard with the accessories either; a solid dark tie or white silk pocket square will suffice.
- Asos Slim Fit Suit Jacket In Poplin
- Reiss Tonic Suit Trousers In Tailored Fit
- River Island Dark Red Suit Jacket
- Ben Sherman Red Camden Skinny Fit Suit Jacket
- Burberry Prorsum Burgundy Slim-fit Cotton And Silk-blend Suit Jacket
- Suitsupply Havana Red Plain
If you’re not ready to go the whole hog with a suit, a red blazer will make an excellent statement addition to your smart-casual wardrobe. Stick to a classic two-button notch lapel design and look for styles crafted from lightweight jersey, cotton or breathable linen-blends to ensure comfort.
Working particularly well with nautical shades of blue and white, as well as Breton stripes, try teaming yours with slim-fitting navy trousers and a crisp white Oxford shirt for any warm-weather event.
- Asos Slim Fit Double Breasted Blazer In Cotton
- Asos Slim Fit Blazer In Cotton
- Suitsupply Copenhagen Red Plain
- Ben Sherman Herringbone Blazer
- Topman Noose & Monkey Red Blazer With Chain
- Boglioli Slim-fit Unstructured Cotton And Linen-blend Herringbone Blazer
Statement outerwear has been trending for a number of seasons now, and a lightweight red jacket can be used to add a punch to any of your current casual looks.
In terms of style, a classic Harrington or bomber jacket is an easy to throw on piece that can be dressed up or down to suit, while vintage-inspired track jackets from the likes of Fila and Nike tap into the current sportswear influences that are dominating the industry.
If the above sounds a little too safe for you, why not take inspiration from the Balmain showcase and opt for a red biker or motorcycle jacket (Zara and ASOS are both stocking options this season)? Anchor with black jeans and a white T-shirt for an edgy, fashion-forward aesthetic.
- Reclaimed Vintage Leather Biker Jacket
- Fila Vintage Jacket With Half Zip
- Topman Red Harrington Jacket
- Adidas X Pharrell Supercolor Track Jacket In Red
- Penfield Rochester Rain Jacket
- Zara Resin Jacket
- Mackintosh Dunoon Handmade Bonded-cotton Rain Coat
- He By Mango Ribbed-edge Nylon Jacket
- River Island Red Lightweight Casual Coach Jacket
If you’re looking to build up your colour confidence, wardrobe basics offer an easy entry point to the trend. A simple red T-shirt or polo shirt makes an excellent addition to any warm-weather wardrobe, and can be combined with chinos or shorts in shades of beige, stone and navy for an effortless high summer look that still demands attention.
When you’re ready, consider adding a pair of bold red trousers to your collection. A preppy summer staple, red chinos are bound to turn a few heads, but as long as you anchor them with muted surrounding pieces, you won’t go far wrong.
- He By Mango V-neck Cotton T-shirt
- Fred Perry Sweatshirt With Laurel Logo
- Indigo & Maine Waffle Knit Jumper In Red
- Jack Wills Sandleford T-shirt With Pheasant Logo
- He By Mango Slub-cotton Henley T-shirt
- Reiss Watkins Pocket Polo Shirt Red
- River Island Red Long Sleeve Grandad Shirt
- Original Penguin Slim Fit Casual Chino
- Freemans Sporting Club Red Slim-fit Cotton-canvas Shorts
- Uniqlo Men Extra Fine Merino V-neck Sweater
- Uniqlo Men Extra Fine Merino V-neck Cardigan
- Uniqlo Men Slim Fit Chino Flat Front Trousers
Accents & Accessories
By far the easiest way to wear bright shades of red is to incorporate small flashes into daily wear via accessories and detailing.
Red ties, pocket squares, shoes, belts, lightweight scarves and bags are all available on the current market, and will inject life into any look, smart or casual. Much like at Lanvin, these bold accents often look best set against a dark, neutral backdrop to maximise their effect.
- Ted Baker Suznas Print Silk Scarf
- Selected Pocket Square
- Drakes Polka-dot Silk Pocket Square
- Herschel Supply Co Little America Classic Backpack
- Jaeger Knitted Silk Tie Red
- Andersons Plain Elastic Woven Belt
- Mondaine Evo Stainless Steel Watch
- Adidas X Pharrell Supercolor Superstar Trainers In Red
- Sperry Leather Boat Shoes In Burgundy
While it has traditionally been known as the colour of unbridled emotion, red isn’t definitively a statement of bravery or romantic intent. In reality, it’s a surprisingly versatile primary shade that has a long and rich history in menswear design. Don’t be deceived – red is a strong colour, but with a little knowledge, it can be safely tamed.
So, will red be a welcome addition in your wardrobe once the weather starts to warm up? Or is this a colour trend that goes too far?
Let us know in the comments section below.