It’s one of those colors that looks great when coordinated properly, but kind of obnoxious and excessive when overdone. So, what color shirt should you wear with red pants?
Red pants can be worn with pink shirts for a monochromatic look or with neutral-colored shirts (eg. white, black, or grey) for a more subtle and muted aesthetic. For more contrast, red pants could be worn with shirts in light shades of other “warm” colors such as orange or yellow.
Although that’s the short answer, there’s more.
After going through the main guidelines to consider whenever matching red pants with shirts, I’ll run through some great examples you can try out for yourself.
Let’s get to it.
Color Matching Red Pants With Shirts: Guidelines
Consider all of these before putting everything together.
1. Keep The Rest Of The Outfit Subtle
Red isn’t a subtle color. It’s bold, warm, and in-your-face. That’s the beauty of it.
The trouble with wearing red pants is that your pants cover a large part of your body. It isn’t a hint or a splash of color.
It’s a lot of color.
That’s why it’s generally best to let your red pants be the boldest and most colorful part of your outfit. The other items you wear should be pretty subtle in comparison.
That doesn’t mean you need to go for shirts in neutral colors only (although this would be the easiest option).
Just make sure that the shade and hue of the other colors you wear is muted in comparison. This would definitely include your shirt.
We’ll go through all of these examples later on.
2. Consider The Formality
Red pants can never be considered formal. In fact, they could never be considered business-casual either.
The color is bright and bold enough that it would only really be suited in casual or smart-casual settings.
Think garden parties, sporting events, dinners at mid-level restaurants, dates, etc.
Bear this in mind – always consider the formality of the setting you’re attending and consider whether red pants would be suitable in the first place.
3. Know The Color Wheel
The color wheel can be helpful when coordinating your outfit, especially when dealing with “loud” colors such as red.
Here are the main things you need to know about it:
- The color wheel illustrates how colors relate to each other.
- It’s split into two halves – “warm” colors and “cool” colors.
- Warm colors (reds, yellows, oranges) are bold, striking, and great for the summer/spring.
- Cool colors (blues, purples, greens) are relaxing, calm, and great for the winter/fall.
- Neutral colors are white, black, and grey. They don’t feature on the color wheel but can easily be paired with any of the colors on the color wheel.
The color wheel can be used to combine colors of similar hues (i.e close to each other on the wheel). Alternatively, they can be used to combine colors of very different hues (i.e far apart on the wheel) to produce more contrast.
Red is a “warm” color – just knowing this fact alone can make color-coordinating red pants a whole lot easier.
5 Red Pants And Shirt Combinations
Although red pants could never be truly formal, the color of the shirt you wear with them does play a role in how casual they’ll look.
You’ll notice that the monochromatic and neutral options (in the first two options below) look a little less casual than the other options.
So, consider how casual you want your outfit to look when making your decision.
Example: Red Pants + Pink Shirt
“Monochromatic” doesn’t mean pairing exactly the same shades of red. In fact, this would usually look pretty bad.
It just means you’re working within the same spectrum.
The image above shows red pants paired with a pink shirt.
They’re different enough for the two items to be easily distinguished from each other while being similar enough for the outfit to be considered monochromatic.
What’s great about monochromatic outfits is that they’re so easy to put together.
You don’t need a degree in color theory to just pick a lighter shade or hue of red. Anyone can do it and it’ll usually look great.
While this outfit isn’t formal, it’s a great smart-casual ensemble.
Red Pants With Neutral Shirt
Example: Red Pants With White Or Grey Shirt
Choosing a truly neutral-colored shirt is just as easy to do as going for a monochromatic combo.
The “neutrals” are white, grey, and black. What’s great about neutral colors is that you can wear them with anything and you’d get away with it.
While outfits consisting of only neutrals may be a little too minimalistic for everyone, most people would benefit from using neutrals as a foundation for their outfits.
On top of that foundation, it’s easy to add splashes of color as you please.
Here, you could pair red pants with a white, grey, or black shirt and make the red pants that one pop of color.
You could pop a neutral-colored blazer or sports coat to really round things off – maybe a charcoal grey one or navy blue.
While navy blue isn’t a true neutral, it’s muted enough to pair with most other colors and is sort of considered an “honorary” neutral in men’s style because of this.
Ultimately, neutrals can make life a whole lot easier. They’re great if you want to make sure your outfit doesn’t look too casual and also ensure there isn’t too much color in your outfit.
Red Pants With Cool-Colored Shirt
Example: Red Pants With Light Blue Shirt
Here we start using the color wheel. As you’ll see from the illustration of the wheel above, the color red lies on the “warm” half with the cool colors on the opposite side.
Mixing cool colors with warm colors can work well but will produce a lot of contrast.
While contrast can be eye-catching, it can be excessive when overdone.
With the red pants being a pretty intense color to begin with, you’ll want to make sure the shirt you choose isn’t too bright, bold, or attention-grabbing.
The easiest way to do this would be to choose a relatively light and muted shade of the cool color.
In the image above, you’ve got a baby blue shirt paired with red pants. You can easily see how much contrast you get between them, but the shade of blue isn’t too intense.
As a result, it works. However, the contrast does make the outfit look pretty casual at the end of the day. It’ll also quite easily stand out from the crowd.
It really depends on whether you want this much contrast, or whether you’d prefer to play it safe and choose a monochromatic/neutral combination (like the previous two examples) instead.
Red Pants With Warm-Colored Shirt
Example: Red Pants With Light Orange Shirt
While mixing warm colors with other warm colors might sound simple, it doesn’t always work as well as intended.
It isn’t quite as easy as mixing cool colors with other cool colors, for instance.
Combining warms with warms can often come across as pretty in-your-face as well. Ultimately, warm colors are bold and striking.
A simple way to reduce the risk of things looking too intense would be to choose a shirt light and muted shade of the warm color, just like you did with the cool color in the previous example.
In this image, you’ve got red pants paired with a light orange shirt.
Orange is definitely a warm color. However, the light, peachy shade of orange we’ve gone for with this shirt is so light and subtle that it doesn’t add too much to the intensity of the red pants.
As a result, it works.
Take seasonality into account, however. As you’d expect, pairing warm-colored pants with warm-colored shirts does work better in the summer and spring.
Red Pants With Complementary Shirt
Example: Red Pants With Mint Green Polo Shirt
If you want a whole lot of contrast, refer to the color wheel and choose two colors that lie directly opposite each other.
Red and green lie opposite each other and would be considered “complementary” because of this.
But going for a bright, fluorescent, or pastel green shirt and pairing it with red pants is unlikely to look good on anyone.
It’s simply too intense.
Instead, go for a light and subtle shade of green, just like you did with the previous two examples.
In the image above, you’ve got red pants combined with a mint green polo shirt. The mint green has the same relaxed and calm feel to it that other “cool” colors do.
But it’s so light and subtle that it prevents the red pants outfit from looking too striking as a whole.
Overall, this combination does have the contrast that any “complementary” outfit would, but the subtlety of the green makes it more tasteful.
There you have it. Hopefully, that’s everything you could ever want to know about pairing red pants with shirts.
While it isn’t complicated, sticking to basic principles does reduce the risk of things looking excessive or too intense.