In Defense of Red Pants

I have a complicated relationship with Tatler magazine, the British magazine that breathlessly chronicles the latest goings-on of the royals, high society, and well-heeled wanna-be’s.

On the one hand, they have published some interesting articles on how to raise children in an affluent environment, estate planning, and other more grounded subject matter. On the other hand, I think most people can live without knowing who the florist was some high society mixer celebrating someone’s latest tell-all book.

All in all, the publication makes high school look like a meeting of the Academie Francaise.

Mixed emotions aside, I do need them to make up their minds about red pants. In one wafer-thin post, they ponder the psyche of those of us who favor red pants. See here.

Then, in another article, they condemn those who wear red pants as fashion barbarians. See here.

Of course, they’ve chosen photos of the worst examples of people wearing red pants to accompany their verbal lashing. But the photos are hardly good examples of bad red pants. They’re often red suits. (Why a red suit? one might ask. Don’t ask me. I have no idea.) The late Nancy Reagan gets a pass. She looked elegant in her red pantsuit.

As with many things sartorial, the secret lies not as much as what you wear as how you wear it. Red pants worn by men are best worn with a navy blazer and white dress shirt. This goes for Nantucket reds as well, even though they are more peach colored than red. I wouldn’t wear red pants too tight, either. It’s just not the best look for some reason. Brown loafers seem to work best with red pants.

For women, red pants simply need to be of good quality, cut in a classic style, and they need to fit properly. They also need to be worn at the appropriate occasion. Garden party, yes. Memorial service, no.

Heels are probably the best shoe. A white or navy blouse or jacket will probably compliment the red pants well. And remember that the red pants are probably the star of the show, ensemble-wise, so don’t throw on an orange scarf to go with them.

What’s been your experience with red pants? I’m anxious to hear.


  • BGT




7 thoughts on “In Defense of Red Pants

  1. I’ve always been partial to Nantucket reds but white or blue shirts are the only colors you can wear with them. Then again, some OMGs feel that white or blue shirts are the only colors you can wear anyway.

  2. Whatever one wears, it is down to how one wears it. As the saying goes: ‘ if you’re cool, they’ll be cool. If you’re hot, they’ll be hot’.

    On the topic of magazine referred to: While I understand that most publications need to an extent, move with the times, Tatler has become so woke it simply ‘ain’t what it once was’. In my view it is now targeting a market its founders will almost not recognise.

    Red trousers and useful articles, aside !


  3. A grey, camel, or beige cashmere sweater looks fantastic with red pants. It is important when introducing color to keep the pieces in the same palette. With attention, anyone can learn to see the tones of cool compared to warm. Camel suits warm, beige/taupe suit cool. As summer (finally!) gives way to fall here, I turn to burgundy red and cool gray and it is just beautiful. The right shade of blush pink looks fantastic with red if they are the same tone. ( Blush pink is a neutral in my closet)
    Oh, shoes can be tricky with red pants. Definitely do not introduce a third color. Subtlety is key.

  4. Michael Bastian, the Creative Director at Brooks Brothers, has incorporated quite a bit of red including red pants into his AW22 clothing lineup. I concur with Byron and Amy re: Nantucket Reds. I specifically like those sold at Murray’s Toggery Shop. Done properly, this is a sophisticated style element that resonates with me. I’ve seen numerous pictures of royals and aristocrats in red pants.

  5. Indeed, keep it extremely simple when sporting red or yellow pants/trousers. I have and do. As you say, navy blazer, dark brown loafers and belt, white ocbd collar shirt. Possibly light blue. Tie optional, but very understated if, or when you go that route. I prefer a navy grenadine when other elements are bright or busy.

    Kind Regards,


  6. Mr. Tully,

    Read this article two weeks ago, then looked at my wardrobe, and purchased a pair of red linen long shorts. I wore them out today with a beige trench, white cotton tank under it, Sperry boat shoes, Chanel dangle earrings and a loosely tied small giraffe scarf about my neck. (to block out my white body) I told spouse, “Mr. Tully would have approved of my look today.”

    Thank you so much for bringing these to my attention. I use to see red pants a lot back in the 80’s.

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