Paint the town

The colour of danger and seduction, red is a shade that packs power and can conjure a host of different connotations. However, at this time every year it means only one thing – Christmas.

Along with the reindeer jumpers and flashing earrings, red party dresses and ball gowns have become a regular Christmas cliché, not the fashionista’s festive colour of choice... until now. We have shunned this show-stopping hue for far too long, so don’t play safe with an LBD. Instead, it’s time to ooze elegance in this season’s red hot shade.

The easiest was to wear red this Christmas is to keep it simple. There is a fine line between Marilyn Monroe and Mrs Claus, so avoid furry white shawls or excessive jewellery and let the dress speak for itself.

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Look for shimmering fabrics in ruby red tones such as satin, silk and chiffon that will catch the light. The shadows created by draped and gathered detailing bring dramatic contrasts against a flat colour. In fashion, black and red are often avoided, but this season, jet beading, black sheer tights and dark accessories create a modern and sultry look.

Red is a seductive shade in itself, so avoid short lengths or plunging necklines that will appear overtly vampy. A slash leg, like this heart-stopping maxi dress from River Island, a key hole neckline or a bare back will look demure and flash just enough flesh.

Jewel-toned red is also an ideal colour for velvet dresses, as is crimson, but avoid going any shade lighter in this fabric or your dress may appear cheaper than you had hoped.

Red dresses called for applause as they closed many autumn/winter catwalk shows. Celebrities quickly snapped up these red carpets.

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Kate Winslet’s floor-length dress by Elie Saab, a dramatic fish-tail Donna Karen dress worn by Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev and Glee star Lea Michele’s seductive backless dress by Marchesa were the pick of a huge parade of red dresses seen at the 2011 Emmy Awards in LA.

Burgundy, cherry and raspberry hues look wonderful with loose curls of blonde hair, whereas brunettes can get away with lighter, more vibrant tones. When pampering and preparing, forget fake tan, as orange will most certainly clash with the dress.

Natural skin tones, especially very pale or very dark skin will provide a beautiful base for your outfit. Use a light beige or translucent powder to combat sheen and redness. Avoid wearing red all together if you tend to have a flush complexion.

You don’t have to wear red from head to toe to embrace the colourful trend. This red blazer from Miss Selfridge is ideal to throw over a black party dress. Pillar box red lipstick and nail polish will accentuate the shade so you can paint the town red this Christmas.