11/29/2011 02:02 EST | Updated 12/07/2011 10:19 EST

How To Wear Red: Designer Cynthia Rowley Shares Tips For Wearing The Current It Colour

The Huffington Post Canada

Red, you may already know, is having a moment. Emerging last spring as a surprising splash of colour on many a Parisian panted leg, the bold hue made its way across the Atlantic to New York City this summer, and has recently penetrated the Canadian fashion psyche.

Now, with holiday party season fast upon us, crimson ensembles are popping up in store windows everywhere. Call it a seasonal sartorial dilemma: how do you pull off red without looking like Santa's wife (no offence, Mrs. C)?

"I'd stay away from anything pile-knit or trimmed with white faux fur, for starters!" says Cynthia Rowley, the renowned designer and author who was in Toronto this fall for LG Fashion Week, where she unveiled a unique collection created in support of the Special K Start Something Fabulous campaign. Rowley custom-designed dresses for three women, and in keeping with the brand's iconic logo, the frocks were a vibrant scarlet, similar to the shade that's given red a fresh take.

"I think a bright, orangey-red is particularly relevant right now, as so much of what's in style this season is about experimenting with more daring color," says the designer, who spoke to HuffPost at Fashion Week and via email. And tone can make all the difference when choosing a holiday outfit.

"More sophisticated fabrics and a fusion of multiple shades of red within one look are both easy ways to avoid building a closet that's a little too holiday cheer-y." For those who are daunted by the thought of wearing such an intense hue, there are ways to downplay.

'It's bold, but it's so classic that you can think about it like you would a black dress," she says. You can temper a bright red piece by pairing it with black pieces, such as tights or accessories. Or start small: "Red lips are always a great way to stand out and dress up whatever you've got on, but red is also good for highlights within an ensemble -- a bag or a shoe."

"Think of it as more of a neutral," Rowley says, referencing Liza Minnelli, who said something along the lines of, "All a woman ever needs is red, white and black." This holiday, that includes all of us, not just Mrs. Claus.

Check out our slideshow of red worn well. Will you wear it this holiday? Tell us how in the comments below.

Photo gallery Wearing Red See Gallery