Thursday, July 21, 2016

A touch of red




There is nothing that feels more chic to me than a touch of red.  I have a few torn-out pages of Victoria magazine from the late 1980s showcasing the French girl’s classic style.  Of course she wore a Breton top in one picture and a white cotton shirt with navy blazer in another, but her red lip colour was what drew the whole look together and made her look so ‘French’.

I also remember a home I saw photographed in Elle Decoration UK.  Like my Victoria pages it was many years ago (the nineties this time, I’m moving up the decades!).  The living room which caught my eye had off-white walls and simple mid-toned timber, giving a modern light and airy effect.  What made me tear those pages out were the pair of red sofas surrounded by all that neutral.  They weren’t bright red, but a liveable soft red.  I’d happily have that room today from the memory of it.

I love Ralph Lauren’s casual Americana style too, and a soft, weathered red is a feature of this aesthetic (such as inthe beautiful barn image above).  The red, white and blue of a vintage American flag or a red and white hand-pieced quilt; there are so many ways for red to enhance a look.

Having a touch of red could even become what you are known for, not in a costumey way but rather a subtle dash.  It could be kept in your secret garden, in that you are the only person who knows about your love for this flourish.  I’m thinking of a touch of red in home décor, what you wear, in your garden.

My favourite décor colours are tones of caramel, crème, soft-white, beige, ochre, taupe, linen and many other permutations of warm neutrals.  A perfect addition to these beige and cream shades is a small amount of red.  I love this Instagram image from Distant Francophile, and her evocative description of the use of red in Paris.

Here are some ways to include small touches of red in your life:
  • Red geraniums in a terracotta pot
  • A beautiful scarf in a shade of red that becomes you.  There really is a red for every skin-tone:  true blue-red, warm orange-red, deep plum, soft pink-red.  In the summer your red scarf could be fluttery silk or a crisp cotton print, in the winter why not choose a cosy wool knit.
  • My mum wears mostly neutrals, however when she needed to get reading glasses last year, she chose a pair of red frames and they look très chic on her.
  • Red shoes with an otherwise neutral outfit.  I love how red shoes really liven up the classic combo of jeans and a black top.
  • Red lipstick – ‘proper’ lipstick in red is not for me now, but I love to wear a sheer red, or use a normal red lipstick after applying lip balm such as Burt’s Bees which creates the same effect.
  • A cheery, classic red on short fingernails or if red fingernails are a bit much for you, paint your toes red.  My preferred red at the moment is a pink-red or orange-red to look au courant.  Classic red will always be there though.
  • A vintage-looking deep red Persian rug in an otherwise neutral room.
  • Tea-towels and dinner napkins in red and cream striped linen or cotton fabric.
  • Red capsicum (bell pepper) or cherry tomatoes to brighten up a dish such as a simple green salad or creamy chicken pasta.
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Are you a fan of a touch of red?  How do you like to wear, decorate, garden or cook with red?

41 comments:

  1. I too love a touch of red. I recall a jersey suit I had in the 1960s (yes, so long ago) a Chanel style, red jacket and skirt and black sleeveless top, very Audrey H, with saddle stitching on the jacket. I absolutely loved it. I now have a scarlet trench for showery weather (by Jules, but they no longer stock it, sadly; what a shame they didn't do it is black as well, that would've looked stunning with a red scarf!)
    I wear red flat patent shoes by Gabor (they are old now, but I've yet to find a suitable replacement) and I love red nail polish. I also have red framed reading glasses.
    In our garden, I actually don't like red, soft colours suit our garden much more, and a flash or red actually looks garish - we have a red rose and it just looks all wrong, but I've not the heart to rip it out! Similarly, in our home, red in the decor, even in small quantities doesn't look right, either, but what always looks good is a touch of black - black candles in bronze holders, a black papier mache tea tray ...
    But I love a tomato and red onion and basil salad - that looks so good, almost good enough to eat!
    Margaret P

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    1. I love a touch of black too, Margaret :) Your outfits sound fabulous!

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  2. The '60s had psychedelics; the '70s, avocado green and mustard yellow; the '80s, "jewel" tones like teal and fuchsia; the '90s, bland neutrals...Yet red appeared as an accent throughout and never ends up looking dated, whether in fashion or decor.

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    1. So true! Red is a classic choice that transcends time and fashion :)

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  3. I love red shoes, too, and have had many wonderful pairs over the years. My current faves are a pair of Diana Ferrari ballet flats. Comfortable and smart looking. I have a few red items of clothing and a gorgeous lipstick but I have to be feeling very confident to wear them. I used to wear a red scarf with white cotton shirt, grey trousers and red shoes to work in the winter and feel very smart indeed ! The pops of red were just right.

    My red lipstick looks great but I find it to be high maintenance, needing to be touched up regularly. Catching a glimpse of my reflection looking like I've chewed half of it off caused me to give up wearing it. I now have a tinted Burts Bees moisturising lip balm (in a stick, I don't like those you apply with your finger) called pomegranate. It gives just a hint of colour and is lovely on my lips which are incredibly dry during winter. The red lipstick over the top looks lovely but alas doesn't last long.

    Margaret P - I loved your description of your 1960s jersey suit. One of my favourite aunties can recall outfits with such detail and I love hearing her descriptions as they include such detail. I hope you are giving some thought to starting your own blog ;)

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Lara. I am progressing with a blog - I have my computer man on the case, and as soon as anything actually happens, I will let Fiona know and she can then let her readers know. I have absolutely no idea what I shall write about but I'll meet that bridge when I come to it!
      Margaret P

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    2. Lara, we sound very similar in my style. I have a tinted Burt's Bees too, can't remember the name and I don't have it with me at the moment. It's quite a bright colour so I even wear that over lip balm :)

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  4. I am a fan of red too. In the days when I worked in an office (I'm now a pensioner!) I used to wear something red if I knew that I had a difficult meeting or a presentation and I wanted to be very positive. My colleagues used to comment "Oh dear - Sue's wearing red today so watch out!" Also, when my youngest brother was getting married and with three young children to clothe I didn't have much money to spend on myself, I bought a red pinafore dress from the local charity shop to wear to his wedding. I received so many compliments that day!

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    1. Haha, yes red is quite a power colour isn't it! I like how you use it to your advantage, very clever.

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  5. Yes. Red is my signature accent color. A red Le Creuset pot here, a red lip there, it's a nice pop without overwhelming.

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    1. Carrie, I have a red-orange Le Crueset too! I forgot about that, probably because it lives in a kitchen cupboard currently. One day I'll have a kitchen where it can live on display.

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  6. We just bought a house which is a beautiful blue, but the thing that made me really fall in love with it were the pots of red geraniums against the blue.

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    1. I love red geraniums so much Amy, they make me think I live in the South of France. Gorgeous against blue too!

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  7. Yes to red ! Was shopping with my dear friend of over 40 years yesterday and she said " I need red sandals, I need to perk up all my black" - and we found them. And much more... Thank you for this post. My home is a lot of tan, cream, white - but the wall with our fireplace on is painted Boston Brick Red. Just one wall, but the white shelves against it really pop. I know what you mean about lips - while out to dinner recently our server was a beautiful young woman with hardly any make up but stand out RED lips. It looked wonderful. When I tried it at home it was not me...I am with you on more of a sheer look. Thank you for your posts - only found your blog recently and have been enjoying all the re-posts of your 30 Days series. Have a fabulous day -

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    1. Ann, at least you tried the red lip look. I like to be inspired by others to try new looks too. It doesn't matter if they work out or not. Either you find a fun new look or you've learned something that doesn't suit you as much as it does some others. There is no downside! Doing this also teaches me that I can appreciate a detail whilst also knowing I wouldn't wear it myself.

      Your fireplace wall sounds FABULOUS! So glad you are enjoying the 30 Chic Days posts.

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  8. PS I would like to add two more red outfits I've worn in the past and absolutely loved, both of them evening dresses. The first was a dark wine red Victorian style dress in velvet, with an insert of white lace on the bodice and a deep, white satin collar, but with high neck, difficult to describe. The second was a scarlet chiffon 1920s' style flapper dress, to the knee, and bias cut in layers, cut straight across the top with bootlace straps and it came with a long chiffon scarf which I tied around my hair. With that I wore red high heeled sandals and I even round a red bangle and of course, wore red lipstick!
    I also had some geranium red suede boots which came to the knee in the 1970s. They were by Bally of Switzerland (as the company styled itself in those days)and I wore them with a pale grey jersey suit with 'silver' metal buttons and I even managed to find a matching geranium red suede shoulder bag ... oh, for such clothes today!
    Margaret P

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    1. Your descriptions are so vivid Margaret, we're all hanging out for your blog! Geranium red with pale grey, how divine.

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    2. The suit was a 3-piece by a make called Tricosa. The jumper was short sleeved with a polo neck (i.e. not a polo shirt but a polo neck, high and turned over), a pencil skirt and a jacket with grey/metal buttons, the sleeves of which were like the jumper and the front and back like the skirt. My mother bought it for me when our sons were young and money was tight, and I loved it.
      The boots had medium high heels but they were solid, winter-boot style heels, not stiletto shoe style heels, and I loved them, they were a really tomato/geranium red and it was at a time in the early 1970s when every other young woman was wearing white boots (which I detested, I thought they look cheap and made one look like an Abba reject!)
      Margaret P

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  9. What wonderful timing for this posting, Fiona! I was shopping for new glasses last week and just for fun tried on a pair of cherry red frames. As my complexion tends to go ruddy when I'm warm (which happens frequently in the American South, as you can imagine), I wouldn't choose red frames for everyday (went with a pair that has a neutral dark exterior color but a beautiful teal on the inside) but I experienced a flash of pure joy when I looked in the mirror. How I LOVED red as a child, and those red frames transported me back to those long-buried feelings of delight in that color. Margaret's comment has me thinking about getting them (or similar) as reading glasses.

    Also, thanks to you and Margaret, I just finished reading the wonderful Kathleen Tessaro book "The Perfume Collector"! How I enjoyed it so, and simply didn't want it to end. I also felt that way about YOUR book, Fiona, which I finally finished last night, after days of strictly rationing myself with the remaining few days. How happy I am that you have this blog so that I can get frequent Fiona-fixes! I also think I'm going to start back with Day 1 of it, as it makes such lovely reading before I drift off to sleep. I know I'll pick up new tips and insights each time I read it. Thank you for such a lovely book!
    Gail

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    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment Gail. I think you definitely need to get red reading glasses now! It makes me SO happy to hear how you enjoyed my book. I might have to reread The Perfume Collector again soon :)

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    2. You can guess what I'm going to say, can't you? My reading glasses are red and I need a new pair and will buy red again.
      Margaret P

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    3. PS So glad you enjoyed The Perfume Collector, Gail R. I am now reading Kathleen Tessaro's latest novel, Rare Object, and enjoying it. I agree, I am guilty, too, of enjoying my weekly Fiona-fixes!

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  10. I've been bolder to add some touch of red to my outfits. I even got a pair of red flats! It looks simple and chic when traveling. Hmmm..maybe I'll put a post up. Also, I tried the Burt's Bee lipstick in deep red, can't remember the name but got my sister and mom hooked on it too. What an inspirational read Fiona.
    Cheers,
    Pingxo
    www.espritdelavie.com

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    1. Thank you Ping! I'm sure you look very chic whilst doing all your travelling :)

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  11. Great post Fiona. Although I embraced whites and neutrals I am not totally a neutral girl. I am quite pleased the trend is moving back to a bit more color in homes. I have had my turquoise sofa for many years and it looks great against white walls but in London I had green walls and the same sofa was bright pink (sounds terrible but it looked great). But, I have never had much red! I use cushions to change my scheme so I must look out for some.... I do have some pointy kitten heels and have worn them a couple of times to work with grey trousers and black cardigan and got some compliments :)

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    1. Hi A, I'm sure your London living room looked fabulous - very Tricia Guild?

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  12. I love red, too. I always have at least 1 pr of red shoes -- I especially like red flats with blue jeans & a white tee. I have red in my house, too: my decor style is sort of a blend of Indian, Moroccan, Gypsy, hippie, what have you, lots of primary colours: red, yellow, orange, turquoise. And I always have terra cotta pots on my front steps with scarlet geraniums, my favorite flower (an added bonus: the deer don't eat them). I need new reading glasses & all your comments on red frames makes me think I might try them.

    But, Fiona, I really laughed when I read your post this evening. We have a lingerie shop in town that carries fabulous things. Every summer I treat myself to something completely unessential but beautiful for my birthday. Yesterday I bought a gorgeous new bra & matching knickers -- in the naughtiest red you can imagine (& yes, I AM an old lady)! And today I wore them under jeans & a black top & no one knew but me (I kept wanting to flash someone but resisted the temptation -- lol!).

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    1. That is wonderful - we old ladies must have wonderful underwear. I've been guilty of using only white cotton Sloggis but really, they are so ugly! And they just don't go with my pretty, lacy, cream or lavender bras.
      Margaret P

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    2. Susanne, you're the best! Love your lingerie story :)

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  13. Suzanne - I love your comment about your lingerie!

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  14. My Project 333 wardrobe is gray, navy, pink, cream, and lavenders/periwinkles. No red at all. EXCEPT: a red pair of shoes and red eyeglasses! IMO, they go with my softer palette just fine! Love that pop.

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    1. I love the colours you've chosen Deborah, and those dashes of red sound like they'd pep things up without going over the top - it's nice to have unexpected touches in your personal style, whether it's home or clothing.

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  15. I'm with you, Fiona! I've been doing the BUrt's-Bees-under-lipstick trick for years now, and it softens, smooths and sheers out almost any red lipcolor you throw at it.

    A deep, classic pigeon's-blood red is my favorite. Looking for a top or a jacket in that color.

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    1. Sisty, the thrifty part of me loves that I can use up lipsticks I wouldn't otherwise have worn so much too.

      'Pigeon's blood', I haven't heard of that colour description (but have heard of 'ox blood'). I can see from googling that it is a ruby red, whereas ox blood is a deep claret. Thank you, I have learned something today!

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  16. I silently cheer when I see someone wearing red shoes. They are so chic and bold without being too much.

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    1. I agree, Stephanie, just the right amount of colour :)

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  17. I like red, and I even like red on me, but I just don't seem to wear it. Pink, yes, purple, all the time! Red- very rarely. It just doesn't feel like me most days. I do like red cut flowers in my home, though.

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    1. Red's quite a strong colour, Aurora, so I can understand how you like it but don't necessarily wear it often.

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  18. A pop of red makes me so happy! I tend to wear dark denim, black, white, and the occasional leopard print....almost always with a red lip. Even while recently recovering from a minor surgery, I asked my husband to bring me one of my red lipsticks, stains, etc to wear while lounging in our tiny apartment in my pajamas. I think it helped my bounce back even quicker!

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    1. LaDana (fabulous name), how cool are you that you would call for red lipstick from your sickbed!

      I love your colour choices - and I do include leopard as a 'colour' :)

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Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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