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Revisiting Red (A Taylor Swift Lookbook)

The year was 2012. A little over nine years ago when Taylor Swift’s Red album was released. I was unacquainted with Spotify at the time so I did what any other person would do. I had my mom drive me Target to get the album in its physical form so I could then go home, download it onto iTunes, and sync it to my 4th generation iPod touch.

I remember it being such a high moment in her career and I was enthralled not only at her music but this vintage yet sophisticated aesthetic she put forward with her fashion.

Fast forward to present day and she’s is still as relevant as ever. Due to a messy dispute with her previous label Taylor is now revisiting and rerecording her works to maintain a sense of ownership over her discography. Although unfortunate, this predicament has brought us a gift this fall season - Red (Taylor’s Version). In honor of this occasion I decided to look back at her fashion from when the album was just entering the charts. After extensive research and combing through multiple Swiftie blogs I put together four categories that encompass all the elements of Taylor’s style and aesthetic during the Red era. Enjoy!

The 1950s Housewife

In 1947 designer Christian Dior launched his Spring/Summer collection that would be coined as the “New Look”. The New Look is remembered for the nipped-in waist and full skirt. Its innovation was found to be attention grabbing specifically for conceptualizing an elegant appearance for the modern woman.

Every appearance made by Taylor included dresses and skirts in Dior's image. Even if she was just grabbing coffee it looked like she had stepped out of a Good Housekeeping magazine from 1954.

And this image was not exclusively for formal wear. Like all 1950s housewives of the time Taylor incorporated this look into her everyday attire. Everyday every ensemble was feminine and fun.

Staying in line with the era Swift kept accessories to a minimum. All outfits were accompanied by a headscarf, pearls, or a belt to further accentuate the already cinched waist.

Preppy Influence

In addition to capturing women’s fashion, Taylor couldn’t go without taking notes from menswear of the decade.

The term Preppy originated with any and all attire worn by young men attending preparatory school during the 1950s. Embracing the academia look Taylor was often seen wearing letterman’s jackets, blazers, and button down shirts.

Going even further she took Preppy to heart by taking elements of its nautical New England roots. When wealthy Northeastern families were seen spending day trips to Martha’s Vineyard they could be seen sporting polos, boat shoes, knit sweaters, and stripes with a red, white, and blue color palette.

Altogether the style made her look mature with minimal effort. With just a few basics she came across as classic and polished. And of course the trademark Ray-Ban sunglasses were a nice touch.

Fun with Twee

A term borrowed from the British, Twee describes anything cute, quaint, or sweet. A subculture of the hipster image during the 2010s Twee style was all about whimsy with key elements being: oxfords, polka dots, Peter Pan collars, bowler hats, cigarette pants, and colored stockings. A notable element included animal imagery; on virtually any clothing item you could find foxes, owls, and cats. You may remember this look primarily on Zooey Deschannel at the time.

With a lot of Twee's elements drawing from 1960s, and 1970s, it's interesting to see how Taylor utilized the style with her look playing with decade fashion to begin with.


Throughout all of the aforementioned styles Taylor's final touch included her signature bold red lipstick. While the makeup seemed rooted in her new 1950s aesthetic, it’s evident that this look was calculated - after all it is the title of the album.

Red is known to convey passion, anger, life, and love. All of these emotions, color coded in red, played out in her wardrobe both on and off the stage. When she sang of heartbreak her simple but elegant red ballgowns acted as armor against her emotional lyrics. Yet during upbeat songs her high energy was emphasized with pieces covered in red shimmering sequins and glitter. Theres no doubt red was her color. And with every outfit she wore her heart on her sleeve.

Taylor is Timeless

I can say with confidence that in terms of aesthetic and style (and music!) Red was one of Taylor Swift's best eras. At the time Taylor was coming into adulthood. At only 22 she seemed so mature for her age; all of her outfits came off as chic and elegant at least to her young fans, like me, who were still discovering our own style at the time. Looking back Taylor hit the mark, her fashion choices were timeless. As we all cherish Red (Taylor's Version) let's also take the time to appreciate her iconic fashion - and maybe take a few style tips of our own.

Illustration by Inci Sahin


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