How to Get Dressed If You’re in a Rut

“All I want to wear these days is pink pants and a red shirt,” is something I said this summer, unprompted, to several uninterested ears. I wasn’t wearing anything resembling that combo — it just sort of came to me, like a latent, unmarked desire from some forgotten pocket of my brain. I wasn’t even sure if I’d seen anyone wearing it before, at least not consciously.

The problem with proclaiming your love of a particular color pairing in a way that suggests you discovered it yourself is how quickly the internet will humble you. That very same day and for several weeks following, I was bombarded by pink-and-red color-blocked outfits that whispered: You are the least special. The inaugural poke was actually the shadiest, because it came in the form a photo taken 22 entire years ago:

If I had time to feel personally attacked, I would have, but I was too busy pinning that photo to my personal mood board. Soon after came this treat and then this dream of an outfit and then this look styled by Harling, who claimed the combination had somehow infiltrated her brain, too. I also spotted a lot of pink and red in our fashion month street style coverage, which I couldn’t bear to be mad at because look how good:

But whatever. I still refuse to call this a trend. It has not usurped Gen-Z Yellow, and part of the reason I’m still compelled by pink and red as a pair is because it really isn’t everywhere. It still registers as a clash at first blush, pardon pun, and that visual surprise can be the cherry on top of an outfit, pardon pun again.

This is something I’ve been relying on a lot lately: novelty. It’s a solid fallback when the creativity isn’t flowing. I’ll have on a pair of pants and think, What’s the last thing I would pair these with? Usually, the answer is the solution. This is Jenna Lyons 101, I know, but I don’t even mean denim and sequins or sneakers and a dress; I mean a black-striped shirt with a navy-striped shirt tied across it, or a pair of wide-legged pants with a hooded sweatshirt, you know? Imagine white socks with white loafers and white pants. It’s good because it’s too much. Breaking those subconscious little rules can make your closet feel new. At least it has for me.

So after weeks of feeling like the fashion world swooped me on my own idea, I chalked it up to the frequency illusion and got in on the V-day parade. Where’s the fun in pairing pink pants with a white T-shirt, or a red sweater with black pants? Nowhere, is the answer, because the limit does not exist.

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  • ReadER451

    How are you wearing this BEAUTIFUL outfit when its 85 degrees and 100% humidity???!!

  • I like this new getting dressed mantra of “what’s the last thing I would wear with this?” It’s a fun new exercise I’m gonna have to try tomorrow morning!

  • Abby

    I’m forever sad that those Apiece Apart pants became unavailable before I could buy them.

    • Haley Nahman

      Same, they’re Harling’s!

  • Elli rvs

    I am loving this colour combo! as a side note there is an amazing red and hot pink shot of /outfit on Lauren Santo Domingo at the most recent London fashion week, that was my absolute fav street style shot from this last fashion month.

    • Haley Nahman


    • could she look more perfect?

  • Andrea

    I looove the “what’s the last thing I’d wear with these?” idea of dressing. This article made me realize it’s something I’m trying to incorporate into my own wardrobe these days, and you’re right, it totally makes your closet feel like new. I’m very much an all-black-everything kind of gal, but I’ve been incorporating more colored pieces and it’s so exciting!

  • My birthday is two days after Valentines Day and the celebration of myself has definitely infiltrated how I perceive the Halmark Holiday. I love it, always have always will. My favorite part, aside from getting myself chocolate and roses, is dressing in all red and pink. I feel like my ultimate self. Best power color couple EVER.

    • dayman

      I feel like Valentines Day gets a lot of hate these days and like I can understand why but at the same time I’ve always loved glittery cutesy cards and candy and roses and red and pink! But I’m also biased because my birthday is Feb. 7th! I had this weird but cute Valentines themed trunk my mom would keep my stuff in when I was a kid with like little lace hearts and baby Cupids on it…it’s still in my closet, maybe I should bring it back out?

  • I’m really loving this color combination as well! Too bad I don’t own anything pink or red lol.

  • Akosua Adasi

    The perfect color combination IMHO! It works for everyone, no matter the varying degrees of shades

  • First of all your mom is soooooo chic! I’m old enough to remember the pink/red craze from the 90’s, Donna Karen was a big proponent. Like you I’ve been feeling for pink and red, so what if many others have. By the way loving this Attico look from spring.

    • Haley Nahman

      That was Harling’s mom but I AGREE

  • Olivia Kohlstaedt

    Speaking of cherries on top, no article concerning the color pink would be complete without a hat tip to Mean Girls, so thank you for that.

  • Hazel
  • Bmo

    I read the title as “How to get dressed if you’re a rat” and I was intrigued.

    • Bmo

      Aaaand I just realized my comment takes on a different meaning because my avatar is a cat. I promise it was written by a human.

      • Haley Nahman

        LOL wish i wrote that…

      • Em

        What the heck. That is the funniest thing I’ve read since yesterday

      • Catherine

        Re-read in British cat voice

    • Just had water come out of my nose. Thanks for that 🙂

    • Naomi du Plessis

      Just burst out laughing in my office. People are shook. Thank you for that.

    • Amy T


  • eva

    what i love about this is it looks fresh with every new shade combination! also love this branching way out on the spectrum to oranges and plums.. you can’t go wrong!

  • Nadia Kippax

    Felt the exact same sudden urge to pair a red hand knit jumper, pink trousers and yellow converse together last month! Absolute gold

  • bettyblonde

    LOVE this combo. I can’t help but remember an outfit Emma Stone wore years ago – a hot pink peplum skirt and bright red sweater. Seared into my brain it was so good.

  • Meredith Vandiver

    I need a pink&red outfit in my closet like now!! I’m obsessed. Are there any other clashing color combos that are actually a perfect pair?

    • Ai-Ch’ng GB

      Here’s what I like wearing together (with white sneakers, or tan/bright yellow hair-on calfskin sneakers/high-tops/flat loafers)

      Red + orange
      Red + ox-blood
      Ox-blood + mustard/tan
      Cobalt + mustard/tan (makes me think of the beach and sky on a summer’s day)
      Mustard/tan + Red
      Emerald + dark-denim blue
      Salmon + red
      Salmon + emerald
      Sky-blue + red/mustard/tan/ox-blood/emerald/cobalt
      Tangerine + mustard/tan
      Tangerine/persimmon/blood orange (Deeper than orange) + ox-blood/sky-blue/cobalt

      I’m not much of a pink-lover, but a magenta top + pants in pink (corduroy, because corduroy – like velvet – always makes theses colours super-intense)/cobalt/mustard/tan/emerald are what I will also happily wear.

      I seem to love mustard… a lot. It’s a neutral for me, as is yellow.

      Everyone can wear yellow right up next to their faces, if they have very dark skin (love yellow against dark skins… I’m, unfortunately, a sallow Asian), or swipe on a bright pink, or bright orange, or bright red lipstick.

      • Haley Nahman

        Love these color combos

        • Ai-Ch’ng GB

          Thanks, Haley 🙂

  • Veronica Wilkins

    Even when you write about clothes you’re the best at MR!

  • Miss Crystal

    Momspiration for fashion is a thing! I saw a photo of my mother from the late 60’s in a full on mod outfit- mini colorblocked sheath dress, white heels with a matching handbag, and a sleek bob haircut. I’ve been subconsciously leaning towards that same aesthetic ever since.

  • I have a long-time love of pink and red. This outfit is perfect. This technique reminds me of my year of unmatching when I was 10. I decided that everyday I would wear the most clashing-est clothes. I guess I haven’t changed much, because it still seems like a good idea.
    Darling Marcelle


    SJP paired hers with white shoes in 2011 and I would 100% wear it today. Maybe slides instead of stilettos because I refuse to wear high heels, but you know.

  • Rosie

    Thank you for this. I was definitely in a rut – yesterday I accidentally wore a breton jumper with light grey tweed pants. I subsequently felt like a flumpy marshmallow all day. Today post-article, I am much happier in a black and white stripe shirt under mustard sweater, with muted cobalt broderie cigarette pants. Currently feeling low key awesome.
    You have coerced this change Haley, and I salute you.

    • Haley Nahman

      Your outfit sounds v cool

  • Jay

    Funny… I was totally going for those color combos this fall. Though I am normally not a color person?!

    And as said: Those Mango Pants are just soooo great!;26,326.pants26,326;Pitillo

    • Jay

      Oh and note to myself: Got two red sweaters, a red dress and a rose coat.

      And I think the combo red and bright blue might be something to go for… and orange and grey.

      Any thoughts on that?

  • Caitlin Crow

    Haley, thank you so much for helping me get dressed yesterday:

  • Kathryn Hannum

    Pink and red is maybe my favorite color combo ever since buying a pink and red bikini from Mango in 2013. I would like to think I was ahead of the curve here.

  • maddleff

    Wearing pink pants and a red shirt tomorrow @haley

  • Melinda Greenacre


  • Lama Moha. deepika padukone wore that same color combo in august, and i think she nailed it

  • OK great but how do you this + black tights? I would love a piece on colors + tights. Where I live, thick tights are a must for half of the year if not more. Colorful tights make me feel like Im a preschooler, so I usually end up wearing black/grey/navy/white/light blue for most of the year but it’s so boring and i love my red and green and yellow clothes??? HELP???