Simply red at Christmas

IT'S the colour of passion and fire, of romance and roses, of stop signs and danger.

It's also the colour of Christmas, for which it never fails to deliver magnificently with all its bold yuletide hues – crimson and ruby, berry and port, burgundy and deep rich rose wine.

But this festive season, the colour red is more than just a traditional Christmas classic, because fashion has rediscovered this most vibrant of shades and embraced it, reinventing it to become a sleek style statement.

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No garishness here.This winter red comes as a simple block colour, almost sculptural in its impressiveness, as is illustrated beautifully by the floor-length dress. If there is one key dress for Christmas this year, it has to be the red maxi dress, of which there are many variations to choose, although the favoured style – because it's flattering to so many figures and is so easy to wear – is the high-waisted cut that nips in just under the waist (where many of us are at our slimmest) and then flares forgivingly over the tummy, hips, thighs, knees and right down to the ankles, which is excellent news for those with cankles (calves that blend without taper into ankles). What could be better for a spot of festive flouncing on Christmas Day after dinner?

Pulling off a maxi, especially a red one, admittedly can be a tall order (sorry) for those on the short side, so take a figleaf fom Kylie and try a Grecian-style column dress, and if you can find one pleated and/or tiered, you'll find this does much to add to the illusion of height.

Large busts should look out for scoop necklines and even halternecks, while the curvy and those who would prefer a longer neck should opt for V-necks and plunge necklines, although a strategically placed necklace or scarf might be best for sitting at table, depending on your co-diners.

There are oodles of short and sassy red dresses around too, as Coleen Rooney here illustrates (she's style editor for, and also modelling for them – love the black nails and the tiny diamond ear studs). One shoulder can be a little dressy for day, but if it's not too origami style, you can get away with wearing a cute little cardi over.

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Team red with black to toughen it and bring an edgy chic. Experiment too by adding taupe and nudes, plus gold and silver to the mix – little touches, mind. Think minimalism. Such is the power of red that statement jewellery will not kill the look, so go for bold pieces. Tiny pieces work well too, especially if they are diamonds.

Best of all, a red dress is not just for Christmas, because the trend is continuing well into 2011.

Merry Christmas, one and all.


The great Harvey Nichols Leeds sale starts Boxing Day at 11am with 50 to 70 per cent off fashion, so don't miss it. Meanwhile many High Street and online shopping store sales have already started, which means it's perefctly possible to pick up bargains in time for Christmas itself. It's wise to keep an eye on company websites before popping out though. If you spot what you want, snap it up online immediately.

Experiment by adding taupe and nudes, plus gold and silver to the mix. Little touches, mind.

Red is the colour for fashion this festive season. Stephanie Smith is dreaming of scarlet, crimson, rich ruby and wine.

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