Struggling with what to wear tonight? Keep reading to find the best shoes to wear with a red dress.
Use Basic Color Theory
You’ve known colors since kindergarten. With the rainbow — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet — turned into a wheel, we have the basics of color theory.
Color theory is how we can combine colors to elicit the desired effect. Using a color wheel, any combination of colors will look good with each other, but there are specific guidelines that you’ll see in art, theater, and other visual media.
Primary and Secondary Colors
The primary additive colors are red, yellow, and blue. You can mix these colors with themselves to get various other colors. You get secondary colors — orange, green, and violet, by incorporating the additive primary colors.
Complementary Color Combinations
Typically, a primary color looks good with a secondary color, creating complementary color harmony. If you look at a color wheel, this would mean picking two colors that are the opposite of each other.
For example, yellow and purple might seem like an ugly color combination, but it has been used artfully in theater productions. The Lion King on Broadway has been a hit success for 22 years as a result of its amazing costuming and smart color palette.
If you look at the opening scene of the musical — with all the animals coming out to great Simba — you’ll see their mostly yellow and tan costumes contrasted against a purple sky. The complementary colors create a visually striking, dynamic scene that draws in the eye.
You might think you should do the same thing with your shoes. The opposite of red on the color wheel is green, which would certainly make for a visually striking color combination. However, the two of them together on a casual night out would look too theatrical. If that’s your thing, go for it.
However, you might find that green shoes are hard to come by, or that you’d prefer the complementary colors of a green dress with red shoes. Whatever the case, complementary color harmonies on the color wheel could guide you to the right shoes to wear with a red dress — green shoes — but they could also strike discord with your style and personality.
Analogous Color Combinations
Analogous color harmony would be using colors near a chosen color combination. In our case, red, the analogous colors would be orange and yellow.
Mainly, you’ll be sticking to warm colors in your look. Using a combination of red, yellow, and orange make for a summery or spring look, and using darker shades of those colors to create an autumnal aesthetic.
You could pair your red dress with orange or red shoes to create an energetic, spritely appearance. Complement the shoes with a white accent, like a scarf or pearls, so that the color palette doesn’t get too active to the eye.
White adds some calm and peace and helps create a cohesive look to a red dress matched with orange or red shoes.
Finally, you could match red with another red. Red is an energetic color, so matching red with more red intensifies the look. Red looks good with itself, so if you’re struggling with finding the best color to complement red, you could play it safe and choose a red shoe.
However, it would be best to add some more color accessory, such as a white necklace, bracelets, earrings, or a purse. A red dress against a red shoe looks sleek and uniform, but too much red overstimulates the eye. You’ll have to redirect some of the visual energy or absorb it with another color.
Don’t Wear These Color Shoes With a Red Dress
Okay, in some instances, brown shoes with a red dress could look cute. It depends on the shade of red and the types of shoes.
For example, a darker red edging on maroon with a pair of light brown Oxfords would look professional and stylish, especially when worn with white socks and black stockings.
However, dark brown shoes on a bright red cocktail dress would not look very appealing. The brown clashes with the vibrant red, brightening up the look and muddying up the overall appearance.
Use your judgment — if you think your brown shoes could look good with your red dress, throw on an outfit, and check yourself out in the mirror. Get a second opinion from your stylish friend, though, to see if the colors work. What looks good in the mirror could look less fashionable when out in the street.
Under no circumstance should you wear blue shoes with a red dress. The color combination looks as if an elementary school student dressed you.
Red is a warm, inviting color. It’s energetic. It’s bold. Blue is calming and cool, so the two of them next to each other clash tremendously. You could salvage your look if both the red and blue are pastels and lighter versions of themselves. A pink dress would go well with a periwinkle blue shoe.
Conversely, the color combination could look okay if you’re hoping to dress for a themed occasion. You could pair a red dress with blue shoes and white jewelry if you live in the United States and are celebrating the Fourth of July.
If you want to show Russia some pride as well, red, white, and blue could go well with each other. However, the colors compliment each other better when it’s a blue dress with red shoes and, say, a red belt.
Otherwise, on a normal day out, if you have a bold red dress and deep blue shoes, keep them away from each other.
Functionally, purple is too close to blue for comfort. Yes, they’re different colors and work with red in different ways. But blue and purple are both the coolest colors on the color wheel and will elicit a similar effect when paired with a red dress — clashing.
Again, it looks elementary to pair a red dress with purple shoes. Red is too absorbing and energetic, and it needs less energy, not more. Purple is a vibrant color, even if it’s a cool color, so you can’t pair the two together. That much red in the dress needs a calming companion.
If it were a purple dress, you could wear red shoes with them. The red adds a pop of technicolor, but the overall focus is on the dress. Purple shoes will draw attention to themselves, drawing the eye away from the dress — where you want people to look. After a while, purple shoes with a red dress will be an eyesore.
Pink helps keep with a monochrome look, which could be what you want if you want to provide the erotic, powerful energy behind red. But pink is a weaker, washed-out red, and would look weird matched against a bold red dress.
First, pink has a younger, girlish look to them, whereas red is more mature. Those connotations alone add to the discord between the colors. Besides, unless it’s a bright neon or hot pink (which should be avoided at all costs with a red dress), pink inches close to white.
A pure, clean white would look better with pink, so the viewer would wonder what the heck you were thinking about choosing a pink shoe with a red dress.
If you can help it, don’t wear pink shoes with a red dress. Opt for some of the options below.
Best Color Shoes to Wear with a Red Dress
White is a calming, cleansing color. When paired with a red dress, it adds a pop of serenity to the otherwise powerfully charged red dress. The white accent is like a breath of fresh air compared to all the red covering your body. It draws your eye down for a glance, but it doesn’t hold all your attention like a blue or purple shoe would.
White takes a moment of your vision then relinquishes the attention back to the main star of the show — the red dress, which is what you want people to pay attention to. In that way, white is the perfect wingman to red’s power.
A clean, white shoe should be in your closet for a variety of situations. White goes with any outfit and adds aesthetically pleasing neutrality with any color. If you’re in a pinch, choose your white shoes with a red dress and continue creating your outfit.
The opposite of white, black, is also a quiet yet stylish complement to a red dress. The colors don’t clash, and black doesn’t steal the show. A black shoe puts the attention where it needs to go — the red dress.
Black is mature and dapper. It provides an elegant pop to black’s energetic nature. Classy black heels with a red dress is a standard combination and would help you draw attention to yourself without taking up too much space. Black pumps, flats, or even Oxfords would help create a classic look with a vintage air to it.
Tan shoes are another sleek color to pair with a red dress. Tan is a light color without sending out too much energy — it’s not yellow. And it’s not a deep shade of brown that could clash with your dress.
A simple, tan shoe could be your go-to if your white shoes are too dirty or scuffed from previous events to wear with your red dress. Tan is a neutral tone that keeps the attention on your dress but allows you to keep the focus away from your feet.
Tan with red is almost the standard color combination in fashion, so if you want to dress conservatively but still turn heads, wear a tan shoe with a red dress.
Remember when we talked about monochrome colors? A red shoe with a red dress is a perfectly acceptable color combination to add a little more energy to your outfit. Red paired against itself doubles the vibrancy of the look, taking a little more attention to yourself.
Just be sure to add a different color accent elsewhere in the look, like with your hair, wrists, neck, or jewelry, as too much red could overpower the viewer’s eye.
To add an air of regality and power to your already dynamic outfit, opt for gold shoes with a red dress. Gold shoes have the connotation of wealth, but gold is a more muted color than yellow. A gold glimmer on your feet will make the viewer look at your feet, notice your shoes for a second, but then keep the eye back on your dress.
Not many people buy gold-colored shoes, but if you have a pair in your closet and hope to bust them out with the perfect dress, red is your best option.
You don’t have to have a solid color shoe to match with your dress. Your shoes could be a mix of any of the colors above.
Black and white shoes with a red dress offer more dynamic but still neutral footwear. Black and gold give a more sophisticated, wealthy look to the white dress, and so on. White probably wouldn’t look as good with a tan in the same shoe, so use your judgment when choosing the two-tone shoe to wear with your red dress.
Overall, adding a neutral color on your feet helps keep the attention on your dress. Adding two neutral or muted colors on your feet creates a more visually diverse color combo while still keeping the focus on your dress.
What Types of Shoes to Wear With a Red Dress
Now that we’ve covered color — the most important element to matching shoes with a red dress, the next important aspect to cover is the type of shoes to wear. You could opt to wear the style of shoe depending on the event you’re going to.
A white, tan, or black high heels with a red dress is a fashionable, mature look for anyone of any age. High heels also force you to stand on the balls of your heels, engaging the calves and making you stand up straighter.
Not only will you have better posture and better-looking legs, but you’ll choose a great color to go with your beautiful red dress. The whole ensemble — you included — will look excellent.
A subset of high heels, pumps typically don’t involve straps, unlike some high-heels. A good pair of pumps provide the same benefits of high heels while involving fewer straps. Slip the pump on and strut out of your house, looking fierce and confident.
Every dress-owner should have a good pair of pumps in their closet for whatever the situation calls. For your sleek red dress, a white, black, tan, gold, or two-tone pair of pumps will be just what you need to pull the outfit together. You’ll be turning heads and become the envy of the room in no time.
Just be sure that your dress is short enough not to get caught under the heel of the pump. You don’t want to turn heads because you tripped and fell due to your dress.
If you’re self-conscious of your height, flats are another way to compliment your shoes with whatever necessary color with your red dress. Flats could be more comfortable for you to wear than heels, and they won’t add inches to your height if you’re worried about looking too tall.
Good flats are simple yet elegant shoes to wear with a red dress. Whether it’s a formal occasion or you want to look cute on the trip to the store, flats elevate your outfit to a whole new level.
Wedges are a bit less formal than high heels, wedges, and flats, but they can still complement your red dress well. They can be more comfortable because they even out the pressure on your feet, so you can wear them longer than you could wear heels or pumps.
If it’s too hot to wear anything constricting on your feet, sandals are the way to go. They’re comfortable and while keeping you cool.
Cold out? You’ll want to wear a pair of boots to stay warm in your red dress. Boots in any of the above colors will match well with your red dress.
That’s right — a black pair of Converse All-Stars provide a mix of casual and formal that could suit your fancy. Lots of ladies are tossing away their heels in favor of the humble sneaker. Not only are they more comfortable than heels, but the sneakers can still add the necessary color complement to your red dress.
If you’re going to a semi-formal event, you could pull off sneakers with a dress. If you’re worried about looking too casual in a professional setting, keep the sneakers at home and opt for more formal footwear.
Finding what to wear is hard — especially with the formidable red dress. But this article gave you the basis to not only find the best shoes to wear with a red dress, but to go out and rock your red outfit.