Monday, January 24, 2011

The Infamous Red Dress

Valentines day is just around the corner...for one brief day Cupid will cast his spell and Romance will reign queen. It is a day for sentimental cards of hearts and lace, decadent chocolates in gaudy boxes and sweet smelling roses. A day for innocent flirtation or passionate declarations and certainly a day to be daring. Red is the traditional color of romance and passion and it's the color of Valentines day. So... I decided to pay tribute by posting a collection of red vintage dress on my website. This got me to thinking. What is it about a red dress? Why have fashion ads and articles consistently described the red dress as bold or saucy or even racy (for decades mind you). It's seldom the style that elicits this response. A little 1950s party dress in powder blue might be termed sweet or darling but the same exact dress in red suddenly becomes daring. How curious. Why I wondered?

I decided to look into this and did you know that a study was released just last October by two researchers at the University of Rochester which concluded that the color red absolutely enhances men's attraction to women? You can read about it here but the gist of it is this... hands down, no doubt about it men seem to have a primal attraction to a woman wearing red. There were some really interesting finds like the fact that men estimated they would be willing to spend more on a date with the women they saw wearing red (wow, who knew?). Anyway, it appears that the infamy of the red dress now has a bonafide base in human psychology.

Given all this you would think the red dress market would have always been a booming one. Not so. Ask any vintage dealer and they will tell you just how difficult it is to find them. Flip through your vintage magazines and you will see that there are precious few examples to be found. Again, I began to wonder why. Then I remembered a story an older friend of mine told me. She was a teen in the 1950s and was looking for a prom dress. She fell in love with a frothy number in crimson and rushed home to tell her mother. Imagine how taken aback she must have been when her mother adamantly refused to allow her to buy the dress. When pressed for a reason all her mom would say was "only fast girls wear red dresses". Yes, Dior said it was his lucky color and Valentino was famous for his scarlet gowns but back in the day, it appears, the red dress was reserved for only the most daring and confident of women.

Best to you all and Happy Valentines Day!!


  1. I love red but that is so true. A "good" girl would of never worn red, not even red lipstick. That was for ladies of the night.

  2. Great post. Everyone should have at least one red dress. :)

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