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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Fashion notes: how to make red work this Valentine’s

Here's how to wow this Valentine's Day without resorting to regular red.
A model from Monique Lhuillier. Edward James / Wireimage
A model from Monique Lhuillier. Edward James / Wireimage

Reds might be right up your alley, but for me, the colour is reminiscent of cartoonish Minnie Mouse polka dots and plasticky checkerboard tablecloths – images I’d prefer not to invoke on my Valentine’s Day date night.

There seems to be some sort of societal pressure on women to wear red on Valentine’s Day. The colour has steadfast connotations of sexiness and sophistication – basically, making it the colour to wear to attract attention and capture hearts. But aside from the occasional application of Mac’s Ruby Woo to my lips, red doesn’t do anything for my body – or for my self-esteem. In a nutshell, it’s overbearing – one of those colours that wears me, not the other way round.

Lena Dunham may have rocked red with her Zac Posen boat-neck asymmetrical dress on last month’s Golden Globes red carpet, as did her Girls co-star Allison Williams, in a strapless Armani Privé gown, but stark shades of red don’t look ravishing on everyone. Instead of struggling to make it work with hard-to-wear ­Crayola-red clothes, join the red boycott this February 14, and look to alternative shades on the colour spectrum.

If you’re a fan of pastels like I am, you’re likely to gravitate towards soft tea pinks. Keep consistency with the shade to make it appear powerful and elegant – it will exude romance on midi-length dresses and voluminous skirts (think Oscar de la Renta and Monique ­Lhuillier spring/summer 2015), but will look more like office attire on ruffled blouses and pleated skirts.

For lighter skin tones, avoid looking washed out in pale pinks, and pick shades with some more colour – but please don’t take any cues from ­Moschino’s recent Barbie ­collection.

Consider corals if you find pinks uninspiring. They’re bright and striking, and essentially achieve the same effect as reds, while giving off a fresher, more youthful vibe. For a vibrant, lively look, opt for an orangey tone on the cusp of tangerine (which also makes for a great lip colour this season).

The spring/summer Alice Olivia collection showed palazzos and a pleated skirt, both in a delightful ­orange-coral hue. If you find the tint to be too animated, try a less-saturated peach – a perfect option for a daytime date, as the shade needs to be quite strong to hold its own at night. It’s also a beautiful colour to wear in lace – just look to Nicky Zimmermann, who showed dreamy lace pieces in peach at her spring/­summer show in New York.

If corals and pinks are too feminine for your liking, you may find oxblood to be your go-to colour for the evening. An edgy and rebellious variation of maroon, oxblood conveys drama and expensive taste. For Jil Sander’s spring/summer collection, oxblood was shown in basics – an oversized crew-neck sweater and a structured knee-length tulip skirt. Christopher Kane, on the other hand, used oxbloods with deviant drapery in futuristic dresses. Play up the colour with black and bold gold ­accessories.

Avoid prints. Instead, place your focus on finding flattering silhouettes, whether classic or daring, and try experimenting with textured fabrics. Keep the accessorising to a minimum – one statement piece is more than enough. If you start piling on the bracelets, big rings and bedazzled bags and boots, then you might as well have just worn the dreaded red.

theweekend@thenational.ae