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Can red and white go together?

Red and white are two of the most popular colors that are often used together in fashion, interior design, graphic design, and more. But can these colors actually work well as a color combination? Let’s take a closer look at the color theory behind red and white.

The color wheel

On the standard color wheel, red and white are complementary colors. This means they are directly opposite each other. Complementary color combinations create a strong visual contrast, which allows both colors to stand out.

When placed side-by-side, red and white create a vibrant, energetic effect. The bold red makes the crisp white appear even brighter. This contrast is part of what makes the pairing so striking.

A classic combination

Red and white have been used together throughout history in flags, uniforms, branding, and beyond. Some classic examples include:

  • The flag of Japan
  • The flag of Switzerland
  • The flag of Austria
  • The flag of Poland
  • Coca-Cola branding
  • The Red Cross logo
  • Barber shop poles
  • Santa Claus’ outfit

The ubiquity of red and white in well-known imagery demonstrates how this combination clearly conveys meaning. Red and white has become shorthand for concepts like emergency services, holidays, patriotism, and more.

A flexible pairing

While red and white automatically create contrast, the effect can change significantly depending on which color dominates. A mostly white scheme with red accents feels crisp and minimalist. On the other hand, a primarily red look with white details comes across as bold and lively.

Varying the proportions of each color allows red and white to work for both traditional and contemporary aesthetics. And choosing different shades, like cherry red, pale red, bright white, or off-white, provides even more flexibility.

Red and white fashion

The fashion world has fully embraced red and white. This combination shows up on runways every season. In warmer months, a red and white sundress is a breezy classic. Come winter, red and white holiday sweaters represent a cozy tradition.

Red and white also balance each other out on the color wheel. Crisp white neutrals downplay the boldness of a bright red blazer. And red pumps or handbags pop against an all-white outfit.

Outfit ideas

Here are a few fresh takes on red and white for modern wardrobes:

  • White jeans + red top + neutral shoes
  • Red dress + white jacket + red heels
  • White button-down + red skirt + red or white shoes
  • White blazer over red dress + white accessories

Red and white interiors

Using red and white together in home decor helps create rooms that are inviting and cheerful. The contrast immediately catches the eye.

All-white rooms with red accents feel crisp and modern. Deep red walls with white trim and furniture provide a cozy, cabin-like ambiance. And mixing equivalent amounts of red and white lends homes a playful, eclectic personality.

Decor ideas

Some creative ways to incorporate red and white throughout your home include:

  • White walls with red throw pillows
  • Red sofa + white chairs + neutral rug
  • White kitchen cabinets + red appliances
  • Red front door + white trim
  • White table + red chairs/place settings

Red and white graphics

Red and white make a visually memorable combination in logos, posters, advertisements, and other graphic design as well. Using red for the most important elements like text immediately draws the eye, while white negative space prevents the design from feeling too cluttered.

Some ways graphic designers can utilize red and white together include:

  • Red headline on a white background
  • White text over a red shape or banner
  • Red logo on white packaging
  • Red accent lines on a white brochure

When paired strategically, red and white create a bold, active aesthetic. The high-contrast combination conveys visual excitement and energy.


So can red and white go well together? The short answer is yes. This classic color pairing has stood the test of time across many applications. Red and white complement each other on the color wheel, allowing both hues to stand out. The inherent contrast draws the eye. Yet adjusting the balance between the two colors creates very different effects.

Red and white work together beautifully in flags, branding, fashion, interior design, and graphic design. Their versatility, visibility, and visual impact make red and white a winning combination that will continue to be popular for years to come.