Fashion: Sparkle factor taken as red

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As Bonfire Night approaches, Stephanie Smith celebrates the fiery appeal of red and picks out some of the best pieces in stores now.

It’s called “the red effect” – the idea that women can increase their sex appeal simply by choosing to wear the colour associated with fire, warmth and passion.

The concept appears to have scientific backing too, with a Chinese study published earlier this year confirming red’s boost to feminine allure and also finding that the colour makes a woman seem more approachable and competent, after showing images of women wearing various colours to heterosexual men.

Last year, Canadian scientists found that women were more likely to wear red or pink when they are ovulating, perhaps in an unconscious bid to attract a mate. And studies have shown that women also like to see men wearing red, as the colour works to increase their sexual attractiveness too, it’s thought maybe because red is associated with higher status in some vertebrates and females evolve to prefer the males most able to provide for their young.

As primitively enlightening as all this research is, it’s not to be taken too seriously. Most women would agree that, when they choose to wear red, it is not because they are looking for a mate either for the night or for the rest of their life, no matter what the studies say. But it is certainly true that the colour can have the effect of boosting confidence. When a woman wears red, she looks like she means business – and she knows it.

The colour red is a major player for this autumn/winter, coming through in a variety of hues and tones from deep berry through warm, orange and earthy brown tones to the poppy and fuchsia end of the colour wheel spectrum.

Traditionally associated with Christmas, this year red has come into play far earlier in the season than we usually see it, because designers have been fascinated by the colour, using it both in block shapes reflecting the New Sixties trend and in clean, graphic lines capturing a modern art mood. Red is also used this season in pattern and print, especially dense florals and checks and especially in folkish and fairy tale themes. It is here that the colour can be seen at its mysterious best, bringing depth and a quickening to floral dresses and tops, many of which can be found in sequin and rich embellishment. Be ready to glow in style.

Brow guru Shavata, left, at Harvey Nichols Leeds last week with the Laura Moore and her new defining brows.

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