What’s the most versatile, timeless, wearable AND stunning neutral in my wardobe? RED. The boldest most electrifying colour on the wheel truly is a game changer when you view it as a neutral. 

Trench, Lanvin. Handbag, Chanel. Shoes, Aquazzura. Photo by Tara West.

The basis of my wardrobe is black. I’ll throw in hits of navy in the spring, and grey in the fall, but year round, my closet’s back bone is black. But I’m not one to wear it head-to-toe. I find that depressing in general. I rely upon red (plus flashes of silver and gold) to add sizzle. Red looks good any season, any time, on anyone. 

Which tone of red should you choose? Because I’m fair with blonde hair and light eyes, I usually pick a cool blue-based red. An orangey red looks amazing on warmer skin tones. I can wear either but gravitate towards cooler reds. 

My favourite shoe brand - Aquazzura by Edgardo Osorio

Red makes a bold statement – you can’t miss it. If that’s too much for you (and sometimes I’m just not in the mood either) add it in accessories such as shoes or a handbag. A chic red shoe or boot (such a killer look in velvet right now) is an easy way to add a spark of colour to a simple look. 

An favourite Tanya Taylor dress and Stuart Weitzman boots. Photo, Tara West.

If you’re ready to go the next step, add a red top or skirt. It takes an all-black look to the next level. I like red around my neckline to brighten my face. Best to keep your accessories black to blend in with the rest of your look. I would never add red footwear to this Tanya Taylor dress as red boots would look too matchy and gimmicky. Plus they’d be super distracting – your eye would be ping ponging from the dress’ neckline to boots.

Outfit, Mo & Co. Photo, Tara West

When you want to go bright in a bold way, pick a red coat or dress. I love a red coat on a gloomy day. When everyone else is trudging around in black, red makes me feel brighter and primed to take on the day. I’ll wear this perfect red topper with the matching trousers and silver sneakers, as above, or a black dress, or jeans and boots.

Dress, Red Valentino.

A red dress is a terrific alternative to an LBD (little black dress). I was at a party recently and 90% of the crowd was wearing an LBD. Alway tasteful and chic … and kind of boring. There’s a reason why designer Valentino became famous for his spectacular red evening gowns – any celebrity wearing one was a beacon in the crowd. I love this dress with strappy Aquazzura heels, as above, or tights and boots in the winter. 

How to make red work for you: Pick your favourite red piece and then try it on with all of your wardrobe basics. I take selfies of outfits to make sure they work. And then I keep them in a file on my phone to remind me for the future. Plus, those selfies make packing for work travel a breeze. I pull out all of the pieces, check them on my phone, pack and go.

Photo by George Pimentel, 2004.

And lastly, don’t be afraid to slick on a bold red lipstick. Most of my favourites are by M.A.C. I don’t usually match a red lipstick to a coat – only if I’m feeling really confident. But it’s a look I’ve loved for years. This is one of my first photos for my Flare editor’s letter page, shot in 2004, and it still looks fresh today. (I’ve still got this Lida Baday coat.) So go ahead, embrace red and watch it add brighten up your look … and attitude.