What to Wear With the Color Coral

Singer Katharine McPhee pairs her coral pants with a gray top and shrug at the 2011 NBC Upfront Presentation.

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Coral is a juicy, kicky, fruit-punchy color for summer, reminiscent of deliciously flavored ice pops and breezy, carefree pool parties. With the subtle glow of your summer tan, this electric color can really bring out your dewy skin and sun-kissed hair. Seen on celebrities as they pose on the red carpet or spend the afternoon running errands, coral is becoming a popular color for the warmer seasons. But what in the world can you wear with such a bright color? Well, more than you might think!

Metallics

A perfect balance for a saturated bright like coral is a metallic silver or gold. Metallics can offset a color like coral that can sometimes look too little kiddish if you're not careful. A belt in a metallic snakeskin, or espadrille wedges with gold detail can actually do a lot to tone down such a neon color, as counterintuitive as it may sound. Take a look at Ginnifer Goodwin's ensemble at the 2011 premiere of HBO's "Big Love" Season 5 in Los Angeles. She cinched in her coral chiffon dress with a thin silver belt (and neutral accessories, which also work well), which seems like a minute detail but actually packs a dose of big girl chic into an otherwise average outfit.

Neutrals

If shiny accessories are a bit too bold for you, try more muted neutrals. Grays, blacks, nudes and whites can work with your outfit by either dressing it up or dressing it down. Though accessories in soft dove grays, muted whites and camel tones will all serve you well, careful not to pair way too much black (already a relatively heavy color) with a coral outfit. Do it the right way, like Vanessa Hudgens at the 2009 LA premiere of "17 Again." She wore a pale coral mini-dress with a wide black buckle belt and black gladiator heels and finished off the look with some dark nail polish. Voila -- her coral dress goes instantly from demure to edgy.

Similar Hues

Take a cue from actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who wears informal looks just as beautifully as she does formal. She was photographed on the streets of New York City wearing neon coral skinny jeans and a lavender cotton tee shirt -- a combination you wouldn't think would necessarily matches but somehow works because of the similarities in brightness and tone. Coral is a combination of orange, pink and red, so keep it all in the same (immediate or secondary) family. If you're not a fan of lavender, try a sky blue, a citrus yellow or a very pale pink.

What to Avoid

Stay away from pairing coral with coral (and more coral), unless you want to look like a giant tropical cocktail. No matter how tall and slim you are, the excessive color will only overwhelm you. And careful not wear too many different colors at once, or you'll look like a colorblock painting (which is not allowed, because you are a person). When mixing non-neutral colors with coral, stick with the maximum of two, and stay far away from fall and winter shades (including navy blue, crimson red, hunter green) -- pairing them with bright coral will just make you look very mismatched.

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