What to Wear With Red Shoes

what to wear with red shoes

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I consider red shoes to be something of a neutral. I own more pairs of red shoes than I do any other colour except “nude”, and if I’m stuck for a way to make an outfit seem a little more special, red shoes is often the way I’ll choose to do it. I know a lot of my readers share my love of red shoes too, but lately I’ve noticed that quite a few new visitors to the site arrive here after typing the phrase “What to wear with red shoes” into Google, so I thought I’d put together some suggestions.

Now, I should probably begin here by saying that “red shoes” can mean anything from thigh-high boots, to spindly stilettos, to wellies, and what you wear with them will obviously depend very much on the style of shoe you’re wearing, and where you’re wearing it TO. For the purposes of this article, then, I’m choosing to focus mostly on the colours you might want to consider wearing with red shoes rather than specific outfits. Let’s start with the most obvious ones…

What to wear with red shoes

Reese Witherspoon in a black polka dot dress with red high heel shoes

1. Red shoes with black

It doesn’t actually work with everything, despite what some people might say, but black does look good with red, and is probably the easiest type of outfit to incorporate a pair of red shoes into. I love the fact that Reese Witherspoon’s black dress has little polka dots which pick up the colour of her red shoes, but plain black will be just as easy to wear, and will allow the shoes to be the focal point of the outfit.

2. Red shoes with white

Kelly Brook in a white dress with red peep toe shoes

What to wear with red shoes: Kelly Brook in white

White works just as well with red as black does, in that you don’t have to worry about clashing colours, but the effect will be a lot more dramatic, making it a little less easy to pull off. It IS a combination which is guaranteed to turn heads, though, even if you don’t look like Kelly Brook…

3. Both together

Danni Minogue in a black and white stripe dress with red shoes

What to wear with red shoes: Danni Minogue in stripes

Well, if black works with red and white works with red, it makes sense that black AND white would work with red together, no? Bold black and white stripes are one of my favourite looks with red shoes: this photo of Danni Minogue is actually a few years old, but it looks totally up to date, thanks to the monochrome trend of this summer. I hope she kept that dress!

4. Red shoes, red outfit

Katy Perry with purple hair, wearing a red dress and shoes

What to wear with red shoes: Katy Perry in red

Red should be one of the most obvious colours to wear with red shoes, but it can actually be difficult to pull off, unless the colour of your shoes is an exact match for the colour of your dress. There are so many different shades of red out there that it’s easy to end up with a mis-match, which can simply look like a mistake. I personally love wearing outfits where everything is either the same colour, or shades of the same colour, but while you don’t have to be totally matchy-matchy, it’s a good idea not to stay too far away from your base colour if you want this look to work.

5. Red shoes with grey

Beth Ostrosky in a grey pencil dress with red shoes

What to wear with red shoes: Beth Ostrosky in grey

Red with grey is basically a variation on the “red with black” theme, but if you don’t want to wear black or white, grey is a pretty good compromise, and another one of my favourite ways to wear red shoes.

6. Red shoes with pink

Audrey Tautou in a pink dress with red high heels and clutch bag

What to wear with red shoes: Audrey Tautou in pink

Red and pink is one of those colour combinations which used to be considered a fashion no-no, but which is now very fashionable. It’s one of the more fashion-forward ways to answer the question “what to wear with red shoes”, but when done well, it can look stunning.

7. Red shoes with blue

navy blue dress with red sandals

What to wear with red shoes: Sylvie Van der Vaart in blue

This photo shows red shoes worn with navy blue, but red will work really well with just about any shade of blue you can think with. I love red shoes with either cobalt or sky/baby blue, especially in summertime, when it creates a very bright, fresh look, but navy is a more toned-down option, which could work for the office, say.

8. Prints and patterns

Pin-up girls in floral dresses and red shoes

Images: Pin-Up Girl Clothing

Prints and patterns are another great option to wear with red shoes. If you’re worried about the colours clashing, or looking too “busy”, make sure your shoes are a solid shade of red (as opposed to a pattern), and stick to patterns and prints which contain a hint of red themselves.If the pattern has some red in it, chances are it’ll work with red shoes.

9. Can you wear red shoes with green?

green dress with red shoes

What to wear with red shoes: Bridget Marquardt in green

It’s often said that red and green should not be seen… without something else in between. The two colours actually look good together as colours: when worn together as part of the same outfit, however, the combination CAN look a little garish… or make you look like Santa’s Little Helper. If you do want to wear red shoes with something green, try going for a shade of green that isn’t too bright. The jade green shown above, for instance, would be easier to wear with red than a grass or emerald green would, while a pale mint would be even easier. These two colours will always be a little tricky to pull off, though, so if you’re in doubt, they may be best avoided.

10. And if you’re STILL wondering what to wear with red shoes…

Christina Aguilera in turned-up blue jeans and red ballet flats

…there’s always good ol’ jeans!

Jeans are my fallback option any time I find myself really stuck for something to wear with a particular pair of shoes. They really do work with almost anything, but look particularly good with a pair of bright red shoes: right, Christina?

What do you like to wear with red shoes?

[Images: PRPhotos.com]


  • A few years back I bought a pair of red heels, wore them once and sold them… Why ? It really felt too “slutty” – and it seemed everyone was looking at me. Now i’m older, a little more secure probably and I will know not to pair them with any dress too sexy. So I recently bought a new pair – which I havent worn yet ! We’ll see ! It probably depends of where you live, but in a big city it does have a tendancy too assimilate you with a prostitute or its just too flashy and people focus on them. If I do try to wear them again, thanks to you, i will probably choose to coordinate them with a pink dress 🙂

    • Gosh, it would never have occurred to me that people might be making those kind of assumptions because of the colour of a shoe… I guess it just goes to show that some people have completely different associations with certain things! I would be interested to know if this is a common association that people make: I’ve probably been giving a lot of people the wrong idea if so!

  • I love wearing red shoes and green clothes together, especially, if the shoes are bright red and the outfit a deep, hunter green.

  • When I was younger, I was scared of even red nail polish because the common belief is that “red is slutty”. I remember having a boyfriend that frowned upon me using red polish because it made me “look like a whore”. Nice guy. Anyways, same goes for red lipstick, red shoes, red dress… For years I avoided that colour like the plague because of that ass backwards idea. Nowadays, I feel like it IS a strong colour and that it does take some confidence to be able to wear it without being worried about what other people will think, and I when I do wear it… screw what other people think, I look fabuloooouusss!

    • That’s so interesting… It definitely is a strong colour: I can’t wear red next to my face because it doesn’t suit me, but even if I could, I’d probably hesitate, purely because it’s such a bold colour. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to think of it as “slutty” until now, though, so I’m really interested to know that’s an association some people have with it. I have to admit that I don’t really think about colours as having subtexts, though: I’m very guilty of just thinking about whether I like them or suit them, so I’m always surprised when people attach some significance to a particular colour. I was horrified last year when I discovered that it’s apparently “bad luck” to wear green to a wedding – it’s always my been my go-to colour for dresses, and I had no idea that some people were superstitious about it!

  • Red=”slutty” must be a generational thing. I’m a child of the 80s/90s and never made or even heard of that connotation. Red being one of my favorite colors, I love wearing it as clothes, shoes, or accessories. Red patent heels are a great way to add POP to a black or white dress.

    • I’m glad it’s not just me! It’s always been just a colour to me… I know that it’s associated with romance/passion, but I wasn’t aware of the red shoes = prostitute idea! I don’t wear red clothes because I’ve yet to find a shade I don’t hate on me, so shoes are my outlet for red!

  • Not sure about the generational thing… I’m in my fifties (yep, you have dinosaurs lurking on your blog), have lived in several European countries and never heard of “that” association with red shoes. It’s just a colour to me too. Used to wear it a lot when I was younger but it washes me out a bit now, so just stick to accents (shoes, belt etc.).

    • I have a similar issue: it doesn’t wash me out, but most shades of red clash horribly with my hair (I know lots of redheads who look amazing in red, but I’m not one of them, unfortunately), so it has to just be accents for me, too. It’s annoying, because I always seem to be finding stunning red dresses, which I know I’d just never be able to wear!

  • I’m glad the slutty thing wasn’t restricted to my family…..my mum always used to say ‘red shoes no knickers’ for some reason!

  • Great piece Superwoman! I love how bold, sassy and feminine the colour red it is… I love hot pink/fuchisia even more because it connotates girliness and playfulness for me. I’d wear red shoes with yellow too, and a combination stripe of some of the colours mentioned above (i.e. nautical blue and white, yellow and grey, many options!).

  • I’ve been gradually getting into red – have two pair of red shoes now (flats and patent leather slingbacks), two red sweaters and I’m thinking of red print for a couple of summer dresses. Never wore it before because of the “look at me!” factor. I really didn’t have the confidence to pull it off, even though people always told me I’d look good in red. Well, it turns out they were right and I’ve gained a lot of confidence over the last few years. Shoeperwoman, thanks for being an inspiration!

  • I think the red=slutty idea is fairly common (maybe it is because of the “red light district”?), at least where I live, but I also feel like it is becoming outdated by the fashion forwardness of red. I think if you are worried about it, the best thing to do is wear red with something that is a little more conservative, or maybe with a lower heel. Also, it really only looks like you’re trying to hard if you actually are trying to hard, so if you wear red that suits your coloring, and are confident with it, you’re golden.

  • I have been wanting a pair of red shoes for a while, since reading kendy everyday’s blog and seeing the cool casual way to wear red pumps. Two years ago all i could find in red ( not coral mind you ) was a pair of nude t-straps with the t-strap and toecap red( 3.5 inch heel ). and a nude and red d’orsay shoe ( red ackle strap). Last year i bought a pair of red suede mary janes (3 inch) and an M&S pair of low heel ( 2 inch ) patent almod mary jane. Also , this year i bought red sandals ( for dancig byut whatever ) Well happy to report. You can wear them with everything.
    I wear my red shoes with my white dresses my polka dot dresses my white and black dresses my jeans my black pants with white/black tops my white jeans with whatever top, my beige pants with neutral creamy tops. They also work well with black opaque tights. With skirts i like the button down pencil and red shoe combo.
    hmm. long winded way of saying they work with mostly everything

  • My mum sometimes teases me when I wear red shoes, her mum used to call them ‘follow me home’ shoes! She’s only joking though. I imagine it probably harks from a time when it was believed young ladies should be demure and that drawing attention to themselves in any way might mean they lose all self control and give in to the sins of the flesh or some such nonsense. I’ve only ever heard it joked about though, I don’t think anyone takes it too seriously in my neck of the woods. Mine have only seemed to attract compliments anyway! Red shoes are one of my fave accessories too, especially when paired with Breton stripes or something similarly nautical! When I want to do something a little different I like to use a berry palette and use shades of purple and raspberry. Can be tricky to match the shades but its a colour combo I really like when done well!

  • I am newcomer to liking red shoes. I really like the color, but on me, I think less is maybe more. My favorite is black and white with some red. And I really like a red and gray combination. I totally agree with jeans being the ‘when all else fails’ option. I have a few shoes with color, and when in doubt with what to wear, I always go with jeans!

  • As an interesting note: The return of high heels in the nineteenth century stems from their being worn in the entertainment businesses of pornography, burlesque, and cinema. Plus it was women becoming aware of what their men were being attracted to in the way those staged women were dressed or less dressed. Since then the reputation of high heels as become more socially accepted, with a few strands looming from the past.

    As far as red heels goes, they are among my favorites.

  • Red Mary Janes heels, and vintage floral dress cream colored w mauve flowers.I am 4’11” in my 50’s,curvy, and wonder what color hose to wear with this outfit?

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