My Favorite Accessory

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bright red lips. Not commonly thought of as an "accessory," but they can be worn like one. In my wardrobe, the color red is cast as that one role that isn't the lead, but is by far the most memorable. Red is the Artful Dodger, Nick Carraway, Rhys Ifans's character in Notting Hill. It is used as that "pop" of color I'm always talking about. Red lips work well in a number of occasions. I like them with tans and beiges (A crew neck heather brown sweater and beige boiled wool skirt) and with navy (navy cape-like sweater and matching plaid leggings) and even with monotone red on red on red. (red cowl-neck cashmere top, hot pink skinny chords, red suede heels) Red lips add an unexpected whim and a touch of classic femininity.

Now, this accessory is difficult to pull off well, first off because of the thousands of shades of red available, and second because of the application. Luckily, thanks to Bella Blissett, who wrote a wonderful little book called Ask: The 1000 Most Asked Questions About Beauty (Octopus Books), and my top five lipstick rules below, your questions about red, red, red lips will be answered.
  1. The best way to apply lipstick is to "spread your lips in a gentle smile and never pucker." Apply two coats, blotting in between and then use a loose, translucent powder to hold the lipstick in place.
  2. When choosing the perfect shade of red, focus on a color that reflects your hair color and your skin tone. For redheads with fair skin, a red with apricot or beige undertones works best. For blondes, coral and pinky reds. Brunettes (like myself!) try bold reds in shades of cherry. For those with dark hair and dark skin, reds with a hint of gold shine.
  3. When testing lipstick at the store, test it on the pad of your fingertip, which is closest to your natural lip color.  
  4. Invest in a quality lipstick like Rouge Coco from Chanel, a mid-range lipstick like Clinique Black Honey, and a cheap pleasure lipstick like Maybelline's Very Cherry.
  5. To avoid the "stage makeup lesson" look, keep everything else on your face SIMPLE. When I wear red lips, I don't use eyeliner or eye shadow, and I put on a little blush and a dab of mascara. For makeup inspiration, flip through a J. Crew catalog. Their models sport red lips often and display the simplicity needed to pull off this look.
Oh, and if you are a little timid at trying out such a bold trend, just remember...

Rhys Ifans in Notting Hill.


  1. Anna! I love your blog! And I'm in love with your position on red lipstick - perfect. I like the idea of "wanting" to pull them off, but I've never found the right shade. Hopefully, it'll magically come to me, haha

  2. Thank you! I'm glad you love lipstick too; it can really define a look. Why don't you sample Clinique Black Honey...its a shade that looks really dark but I've found it works consistently with a variety of skin tones. It can be worn lightly for a little color or you can apply several coats for a more defined statement. Bert's Bees chapstick with color also works really well for experimenting with different shades