I’ve avoided wearing red since the beginning of middle school when I acquired a sudden and uncontrollable blushing habit. I blushed when I was embarrassed, when I was pleased, when I was the recipient of too much attention, when I felt that I was talking in excess. The more I thought about how much I was blushing, the more I blushed. Blush, blush, blush, blush, blush.

I stayed away from red; my body was already supplying the pigment in spades. Pale blue was my best friend. White was always a delight. Green, sure. Anything in the orange/pink spectrum was risky territory. Red? Unthinkable. The blushing and corresponding color mandate are both souvenirs of adolescence I’ve carried with me into adulthood.

Despite what my cool-toned wardrobe would suggest, I have long admired red clothes from afar — their power, their presence, their declarative self-awareness. You want what you (tell yourself you) can’t have, I guess.

I wanted it even more during fashion month last spring, when red was ubiquitous to the point of absurdity. I counted more than 80 head-to-toe red looks across all the collections. HEAD-TO-TOE: Shoes, accessories — the whole kit and caboodle.  

Although Fendi, Roksanda and Tod’s turned out some great examples, Givenchy was by far the heaviest contributor, presenting a 27-look collection made up entirely of entirely red outfits. The collection got a lot of buzz for this distinctive design choice. What struck me, as a virtual onlooker, was how effectively it made the case for not just wearing red, but wearing only red.

I won’t say it didn’t look a bit like a costume, because it did, but in a good way — less like a gimmick, more like a modern-day suit of armor.

I managed to avoid confronting my conflict of interest and anxiety until a few months later when Amelia and I decided to timeshare a dress for a story. She suggested a fire engine-red Saloni dress, and I said yes before I could say no, even though the color terrified me.

Despite the fact that it occasionally matched my face, I loved it. I marveled at the reality that I had allowed a relatively meaningless insecurity to impact me so significantly, like an elephant backing away from a mouse. Still, I wore it conservatively — a dress here, a t-shirt there. Baby steps.

Around the same time, I read an interview with The Cut editor-in-chief Stella Bugbee in The Coveteur in which she ruminated on the phenomenon of head-to-toe red. “People just love it when you wear all red!” she said. “They act like you invented red. I wear head-to-toe red all the time, including my bag. I love it. I think in general solid color dressing is an idiot’s way to make an outfit. It just feels like you tried but it’s really that you’re not wearing all black.”

Another fashion month came and went, and with it, dozens of head-to-toe red looks across the Spring/Summer 2018 collections: Versace, Area, Proenza Schouler, Valentino, Calvin Klein — the list goes on. I kept track of all of them on a note in my iPhone, some of which I referenced in the mega roundup of trends published on Man Repeller, but there were far too many to include as just an aside. The pervasiveness of this uniform had “separate style story!” written all over it, which I was more than willing to attempt. I’ve found that styling a trend I find intimidating or uniquely challenging on someone else is a great way to test the waters before giving it a shot myself — the stretch to my sprint, if you will.

Learning to paint in entirely one color when you’re used to dabbling in the rainbow is a fascinating exercise, especially when that one color is red. I was wrong to assume the lack of variation in hue would demand more accessories; in fact, the opposite was true. Simple gold hoops did just the trick, with the occasional pair of red sunglasses sprinkled in for good measure.

Beyond experimenting with how to style the trend, I’ve also been pondering the WHY of its pervasiveness, because even if it is having “a moment,” it is by no means a new aesthetic.

“In red, Diana Ross is the first person who comes to mind,” notes stylist and consultant Shiona Turini. “She was enchanting and sensual, all-woman in a red ensemble and wore it often: The Mahaffey Theater stage in majestic tulle, the 2003 MET gala in flooding silk, and while channeling Josephine Baker in feathers and pearls. That’s probably where my affinity for it started; carried on, of course, by last season’s ubiquitous red highlights at Fendi and Givenchy.”

In addition to Diana Ross, head-to-toe red was also popular with fellow iconic performers David Bowie and Selena Quintanilla. Coincidence? Perhaps. Studies about the psychology behind the color red suggest otherwise, though. Men and women are both rated as more attractive in red. Male customers give higher tips to female servers dressed in the color. Wearing red has been shown to have a positive effect on performance in competitive sports.

As for why head-to-toe red is currently resonating? If history and science are any indication, it boils down to the desire to stand out. Thanks to the internet, there is more information at our fingertips than ever before. There’s more to see, more to consume, more to digest; the tools we use to be and feel distinctive have to sharpen in response. The fact that the kirakira app and head-to-toe red are trending in tandem doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Both are mechanisms for taking something to an extreme in a way that catches the eye, cuts through the noise and delights.

Or maybe the universe is conspiring to dig me out from underneath my personal red baggage by means of some very serious exposure therapy. It’s a work in progress. I did recently purchase these red socks, so I’m warming up for an eventual head-to-toe red debut.

If you, too, are considering a head-to-toe red look, my styling suggestions are as follows:

+ Go easy on the accessories
+ Experiment with different shades of the same color (burgundy, poppy, cerise, scarlet, vermilion)
+ Red is an inherently authoritative color; imbue it with a sense of humor by adding elements that don’t take themselves too seriously: kneecap leggings, graphic t-shirts, toothy smiles, etc.

Would you wear? Are you already? Let’s discuss.

Photos by Edith Young. Modeled by Tia Jonsson of Anti Agency, follow her on Instagram at @tiajonsson. Studio space provided by Breather.

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  • tuberoseandvetiver

    Love this. Just like red lipsticks there are bound to be shades of red that suit you. I think burgundy is universally stunning on everyone.

    • Abby

      I am super into burgundy right now: nails, lipstick, sweaters, you name it!

  • Although today I am wearing various shades of cream and white from head to toe, red is my absolute favorite color. If you start by adding red accessories to your look, wearing an all red outfit will start to feel less and less scary.

  • Jaclyn Levy

    Kat Von D did it first! She switched from wearing all black to all red about a year ago to bring awareness to animal rights issues. ❤❤❤ I love this trend, what a gorgeous color to wear head to foot.

  • Jorinna

    I also absolutely love the all red trend. I personally enjoy the comfy style, wearing red sweaters with red maxi dresses a lot, like you can see in my latest outfit post. http://jorinna.style/all-red
    xx,
    Jorinna

  • Nancy

    I have a friend who does this! He’s been wearing all red for almost 4 years now. And I mean ALL red – he’s either dyed his old clothes (down to underwear and socks) or only purchases red items. Before that, it was all white for 4ish years. I think I met him at the tail-end of the white phase. His reasoning behind it is really interesting. I think head-to-toe red makes you so conscious of yourself and aware of how others are perceiving you – it’s such a statement.

    • Harling Ross

      that’s so cool. what’s his reasoning?

      • Nancy

        He’s an artist, so it’s a bit of a project for him. I’ve heard him talk about it as “the alchemy of the self,” much of which is taken from Jungian psychology (and is analogous to the stages of alchemy). So it’s a process of obtaining individuation.
        I think he was just in a shitty place mentally and decided to start with black, although I didn’t know him then. It’s like a spiritual death of the self – deciding where you want to build from. White is washing away “impurities,” like purging your life of negative and unnecessary things/people – only focusing on what matters. And red is the culmination of all that work. Like, to wear all red all the time, you have to be pretty secure in yourself. It’s made him such a bold person. Even when you’re anxious or unsure you can look at your beautiful ruby self and say, “I can do this because I am in the culmination of my self.”
        It sounds so woo and new age-y to write it out, but it’s really worked for him and I can definitely see why.

        Edit: here’s a video of his closet https://instagram.com/p/BXiz7tPFmL0/

        • Elizabeth Van Schaick Armstron

          This actually sounds very sharp written out. I think it would be interesting to start out by thinking about what are all the things that a particular color symbolizes or references most strongly, and what it most brings up for yourself. If you want to use this exercise intentionally, I would think you could harness all those connotations and feelings and choose clothing items in a monochromatic scheme to channel what you need in your life, or mark the growth or energy you are going through. Interestingly, through the years, I used to have a fair number of red items because a true red or red on the bluer side is a good color for my complexion. Somehow, the items I used to have departed (except for one dress that should have an article all to itself….). However, I just found an amazing pair of Theory red wool pants that I am intending to make one of my go to winter items. I’ve been looking up ideas for how to make outfits with them, and I see a lot more flexibility than I thought I would!

        • I love the idea and his reasoning behind it. I wore black a lot during a point in my life – half out of mourning and half out of convenience –literally everything went together. I’d love to try this with other colors of the rainbow. Your friend seems like a cool dude.

        • Kiks

          I love this. Thank you for sharing!

      • CM

        I know someone who does this too- he’s a Blood.

    • tinygoldenpins

      I like that.

  • Alison

    Yes! Jane Magazine (back in the day) had an issue on monochromatic dressing. I still have the red and yellow pages in a folder — an actual folder made of paper.

  • So funny, I’m reading this just after digging out a red cashmere knit midi skirt and matching sweater that I designed for an Italian company years ago thinking yeah, its moment has come (confession, I gave it to my daughter and now am taking it back). I hesitate though to invest in the red shoes, we’ll see. Personally I prefer a more burgundy red, as posted here: http://www.primadarling.com/fashion/seeing-red-for-fall/

  • Arden

    Personally, when I think of red my first thought is Liza Minnelli. She’s my red sequin style icon.

    • Harling Ross

      oooh yes another red-loving icon

  • Maren Lindquist

    Harling I’m the same way. Having rosacea for most of my life I’ve always avoided red. Generally dressing in blue or black. Luckily, I discovered foundation and better skincare than bar soap. I’ve definitely felt the itch to buy red this season and the red epi bag in the StockX article is exactly what I’ve been looking for! All I need is a red sweater and some snazzy pants and I’m set!

    • Harling Ross

      yes that bag is so good! i’m clearly on a red bender right now huh

  • Pandora Sykes

    Not to humble brag, right, but – I did dis first

    • Harling Ross

      tru i’m still thinking about that melissa pinkstone coat

  • Maggie

    vitiligo!!

    • Kiks

      I love the platinum streak framing her face and playing off the light patch. She looks like a unicorn. I’m obsessed.

    • Yaaaas

  • Andrea

    This is exactly my relationship to red! I was teased in high school for my frequent blushing- and I’m so fair skinned and I have acne so I make significant efforts to get the shade of red far far away from myself. However I LOVE red accessories. All black with red shoes makes me feel powerful and stylish. Recently took the plunge and bought a burgundy sweater that I love–baby steps!

    • Harling Ross

      #babysteps

  • And thank God. I was really getting bored with head to toe black. I think that the outfit with the MR shirt is the most accessible to me. I’ll definitely be trying it.

  • Emily E

    Love it, Harling! For a few moments there in the beginning, I thought I wrote this article in my sleep. After about 10 years of avoiding red for fear of becoming one throbbing mega-blush, I realized just this year that that spectacular poppy-coral-red is MY color. A stranger in an arcade bar even told me so. *acceptable blush c: * On board for this and LOVING the oversize sweater on the model.

    • Harling Ross

      isn’t that sweater a dreamboat ??!!!!!!

  • Vana

    Love love love the styling ! Especially the lace with the oversized. I personally have loved all red since a kid. It was the one color that I felt described my personality before I talked people’s heads off.

    • Harling Ross

      Vana!!!!!! hi

  • Kelsey Alyssa

    I bought the most fantastic dark red pants in August and every time I wear them I pair them initially with a red top and chicken out at the last minute. I’m not ready yet, but my heart is willing!

    • Harling Ross

      DO IT

      • Ai-Ch’ng GB

        Yes! Wear your red with with your dark red pants! I have a baggy (ath-leiusre style) burgundy nappa leather skirt and pair of pants that I wear with vermillion tshirts and bright red tops.

        Didn’t realise all-red is returning, but am glad it is. It’s just super-energetic and so cheerful! I saw a pair of red baggy cotton pants at Cos yesterday, that, after reading your post today, I’m going to buy. It looks best sharply ironed as it does on the rack, but even after it’s all wrinkled in my wardrobe, I’m still golf tk love wearing it.

        A pair of (deeply discounted – I had change back from one hundred dollars) Demeulemeester sheer lace, baggy, long pants (that I wear with long baggy silk cream shorts) is one of my summer favourites when I pair it a baggy printed T on a timid day, and a vermillion cotton T on brave days, or a lace vermillion top for dinners. I always wear white simple leather sneakers when I do this.

        I also have a vermillion full length A-line pullover lace dress that I made myself and have worn to so many weddings (that occasionally draws long looks of unhappiness, because the bridal party thinks I am trying to steal the bride’s thunder: I’m not, it’s just a great formal dress that’s incredibly cheerful and doesn’t show any dirt for hundreds of wears, and isn’t dark – dark being bad luck for Asian weddings: note I do feel awkward wearing this dress to Asian weddings where the bride wears bright red, so I sewed a deeper, more muted, burnt-red version of this lace dress for those times). I’ve worn both in winter with a very baggy cotton red knit sweater, or an oversized oxblood hoodie, with my white leather high-tops and a black leather jacket over it all.

        Red is awesome, but I’m Asian and my hair is bobbed short and still black, so I often feel a bit self-conscious about the whole, “Asian wearing red for good luck” perception.

        However, I’ll still go ahead and wear it, as it’s one of my favourite colours (probably because Mum always put me in a bright red velour sweatshirt to wear with burgundy corduroy pants — so 70’s — when I was a kid and she’d be taking us out to an event that she deemed, “special”). And I’ll always wear all red with white sneakers, or – more Father Christmassy- with my old tan flat leather ankle boots. I think the key is to avoid wearing all-red with black belts, and black footwear, unless it’s black sneakers, as you’ll look way too much like Santa then.

  • tmm16

    I am 1100000% here for this all red trend.

    I’ve loved this photo of Gisele in this power suit + stance for quite some time. Looking to buy an all-red suit to wear soon!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/64106a97bfe001c5ddd48f1ee92d36acb73eec90bd2d6eca01468b116f1b4cba.jpg

    • Harling Ross

      i need a red suit

  • Rae

    I’m a natural redhead and LOVE wearing red. Putting on the color really does feel like putting on armor. Red gives off an air of power and control and projects confidence no matter whether you’re feeling it or not – for dates, big presentations, an ex’s wedding (overshare)…

    Note: I generally wear nude shoes with the color because…I only buy nude/neutral colored dress shoes. I think red shoes would take me from powerful and in control to cartoon superhero very quickly.

  • I love red! I’ve always shied away from wearing it because I dye my hair red, but now I’m starting to feel like it’s more acceptable to clash!

    • Harling Ross

      that’s not clashing it’s matching! (both of which i love to do)

      • I like your attitude! Also, Harling, idk if you’ve ever experimented with certain face moisturizers or foundations that have a greenish tint you counteract your redness, but maybe that could help you?

        https://www.elfcosmetics.com/p/mineral-face-primer
        something like this ^^

        • Elizabeth Van Schaick Armstron

          I have redness in some parts of my complexion, and I second the suggestion of the green tint products. Clinique also has a line of redness reducing products that are nice.

  • Emily M

    Maybe someday. I still struggle with the self-perceived “LOOK AT ME” vibe that red gives off, and I have a decade-long habit of deflecting any and all attention away from me at all times. Maybe I need to just dive in and try red, ugh!

    • Harling Ross

      i’ll dive if u dive

  • Mary W

    I just saw a beautiful woman walking around Astor place yesterday in head-to-toe red! She had on an oversized sweater on top of lighter red leggings…I gawked at her 🙂

  • hailey thompson

    love that you’re incorporating amazon pieces

  • Lauren Michele

    I’ve been waiting for this. Still torn on my ability to pull this off and not feel like a crazy on the subway.

  • Red is a powerful color. Anything to lower the all black uniform . Red is one color that gives us all a moment of pause …don’t pause wear red !
    Jandrew
    Dress The Part
    http://www.jandrewspeaks.com

  • Lanatria Brackett Ellis

    Im gathering red garments in my online shopping carts as we speak!

  • diane

    All during my childhood, my mother cajoled me into trying on the red version of any given item of clothing. Naturally, I began to hate the color–despite the fact that I did seem to get complements whenever I wore anything red. About 5 years ago, I started to interject red into my wardrobe by way of accessories to pop with my navy, gray and black staples. Recently, I purchased several solid red dresses and blouses, none of which I kept, even the lovely lace Philosophy dress that I had on my Net a Porter Wish List all season. Turns out, I can only wear blue-toned or cool reds, not orange or poppy shades, which seem to dominate the market. Now I am on a search for a cool red pant suit!

  • THIS MODEL THOUGH! Gorgeous. The clothes pale in comparison!

    • Kiks

      She is magical.

    • ashley

      exactly. all I could think was ‘but whats this models hair all about’

    • Selena Delgado

      It was so tough to read the article, she is STUNNING!

  • tinygoldenpins

    My mother always put me in red and my older sister in baby blue. Everything for me was red, everything. So I put myself in red A LOT, red shoes, red phone, everything. As I’ve gotten older, it occurs to me that red doesn’t really look that great on me anymore. I rarely wear it but when I see red silk or velvet or lace I realize I still have that red thing in my blood (haha). But, I’m trying to bring back green right now so I’ll pass.

  • Leah

    LOVE LOVE LOVE. I’m a little nervous about it though! What do you guys think of this set in red?? https://www.zara.com/us/en/textured-weave-sweater-p00219282.html?v1=5223023&v2=745008

  • lil can

    so in love with that devon dress!!!!!!!!! (then looked at the website and saw it was over $3,000…..wasnt surprised tho tbh)

  • Carolina Delgado

    Drooling over that red knit sweater and lace skirt combo

  • Lou

    So a leeeettttle bit miffed that my look has been stolen (albeit very stylishly!) — I’ve been doing the all-red look for ages now 🙂

    Interestingly, though, in response to all the commenters wondering about the confidence you’d need to pull this off — I actually retreat to my all-red getup when I’m feeling particularly out-of-sorts, not-myself, on those wake-up-exhausted kind of days. The outfit works because it kind of carries your personality and spunk *for* you when you’re not feeling up to it. Your clothes do all the work and you can go on being a bit of a grinch until your day is over. I can appear interesting without actually having to ~prove~ it. The outfit talks so you don’t have to. It also covers up imperfections like greasy hair or imperfect skin because it is so loud and distracting. On the other hand, the outfits I *DO* need confidence to wear are the sleek, subtle, grey/muted-palette ones, the ones where the little details make the outfit. Those are the outfits that I feel need my personality and face/hair to be on their A-game — since there is nothing else. Muted outfit with lethargic wearer –> not only do I feel like a drab, boring, un-quirky person but I feel like I look like one too.

    • Kiks

      I totally get this. Always wear my brightest clothes on days I wake up feeling “meh” or straight-up miserable.

  • Lilli

    Eva Chen from Instagram recently wore this all red outfit and now I am obsessed! (she also recently wore head to toe orange it was amazing)

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7a439d57ffe0eab029dd790c1c40fa41babb799e3fbd52accca3c1d537d8117e.jpg

  • Camilla Ackley

    YES

    YES

    YES

    Monochrome red is my JAM (pun intended). I usually do a mid length silk skirt with a big cosy knit for fall, currently in the process of tracking down the perfect red boots. Love every look in this editorial as well – the model is beautiful!

  • Kattigans

    I’m really into red right now too. I’d seen the trend pop up, but just recently I’ve been itching to get some red in my wardrobe. I was very into red accessories in college – had a red Marc Jacobs bag that I got so many compliments on. It was perfect. I really like the red shade that’s really tomato orange as opposed to a darker shade. I’m ready to stand out

  • I neeeed that red sweater and it’s sold out :'(

  • Ine

    I’ve been disliking red for aaages but found myself buying and secretly loving solid red clothes (which I pared with pink and other red garments alone) since summer 2015. I didn’t really get where it came from, but I guess designers felt it too. Sadly, now I’m almost through with red and I have to see it for another two seasons at least (because most people are sooo late to pick up trends) 🤔
    Still beautiful though ..

    • b.e.g.

      funny how it used to be designers set the trends and folks were slow to pick up trends, now it’s folks are setting the trends and designers are jumping on the bandwagon!

  • I love this look and I think it fits my style very well (very few accessories, very casual elements welcome) but i can’t bear the idea of red pants? yes please, red skirts and red dresses, but where i live that just doesn’t work out because cold weather and biking everywhere. red tights seem a bit too kindergarten but i do like the leggings idea! and do i need to buy new shoes?? does it still count if i just wear my leopard mules? pls.

  • Did I save these pictures or did these pictures just save me?

  • b.e.g.

    Not all reds are for everyone. Pick the hue that suits your skin tone and wear it on top. The wrong red can make your face look harsh. I prefer orange or pink nearest my face. Or an orangy red. So my “all red” look has always been red bottoms, and pink or orange top. No, it doesn’t clash. Yes, it works together if you pick the right shades of pink and orange and red.

  • haylie

    Just yesterday I wore red (like, platonic red) trousers and a maroon silk shirt all around NY and I swear to god, it was like I invented color. I felt like a goddess.

  • Missmonica

    You wore a fab red dress at your book signing at Barneys about 6 years ago in LA. I loved the way you rocked the full length thing with some sneakers and thats it! I’ll try to find the pix I took for your scrap book!

  • maliboo

    ummmmm, have you seen the newest Town Clothes FW17 collection?!? There are no words.
    https://www.town-clothes.com/new-gallery-1/

  • Madeline Scholl

    MR you stole my jam. wearing all red is MY thing.

  • Anum

    This is so great, and I won’t be stopping at red! Thanks Harling!

  • Ashlyn Grace

    I love this. I love red. Probably because I hopped on the bandwagon but honestly I don’t even care anymore I just love it that much. I bought a red sweater a goodwill yesterday and was so excited to wear it I didn’t even wash it (I know, I know, but I sprayed wrinkle release on it so it smelled good) ANYWAY the only thing I’d say is that if you’re not living in the “fashion world” and just live in a small town or go to a boring workplace or are still in school, it is SO HARD to do stuff like this because nobody will like it or understand it and that is really hard on confidence ngl. All these lofty, gorgeous, crazy fashion ideas and theories and silhouettes that look aaaammmmaaazzziiinnggggg are so impractical in the everyday person’s life and IT NEEDS TO CHANGE

  • Cooper

    Nice, but I’d get shot wearing that in the Bay, although my corpse would look smokin hot

  • vespert

    I’m loving the all red ensembles- gorgeous! Might the trend also be a nod to Handmaid’s Tale? Red can pop even more with a dash of reflective, check out Vespertine’s Riding Dress, in Cinnabar Flash…
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/09289e8501ac52a2fbae70e00981ecd8f56863f1f332dcd4015e56c45e6b0807.jpg