How to pull off bold, red lips

photo Red, Red, Red by Clinique

Like the little black dress, red lipstick is a tried-and-true part of the arsenal of beauty. It is no wonder that both, along with classic pearls, were staples of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel.

"Red lipstick is an alluring statement of elegance," said Eleni Tingirou, manager of the Chanel counter at Belk at Hamilton Place. "It is very glamorous and makes a woman feel powerful."

Red lipstick, however, can also be intimidating. What shade works best, how to apply and how to avoid crossing that fine line between looking like a glamour puss and a sad-clown hooker?

But fear not. Anyone can pull off a gorgeous red lip. It just takes a careful hand, a little bit of forethought and a whole lot of attitude.

"You have to have confidence to pull off a red lip," said Jodi McGee, consultant at the MAC counter at Belk.

Go on. Make Coco proud.

Lip tips

1. Bluish reds can make the teeth appear whiter, but be careful of orange-toned reds. They can yellow the teeth.

2. When choosing a red lipstick, pay attention to the color of the skin, the natural lip, the hair and the eye.

3. Coral reds, with pink or orange undertones, are well-suited for fair-skinned women with freckles and red hair.

4. Women with more of an olive complexion should aim for a merlot or plum shade.

5. Blue-based tones can work on almost anyone ...

6. ... but they tend to look best on slightly darker complexions. A blue-based red can wash out a fair blonde.

7. Fair-skinned women should look for a true red.

8. Use red lipstick moderately. Don't cake it on.

9. Make red lips your focal point. Try a neutral eye and a subtle cheek with a bold, bold lip.

10. Use a lip primer and a liner. Outline and fill in the lips to create a base, then apply lipstick over it with a lip brush to define and avoid feathering.

11. Pay attention to the natural lip color. Look for a brighter red for pale lips, a warmer red for darker ones.

12. Find a lipstick that contrasts your eyes.

13. Keep the color consistent with the outfit. A bluish-red lipstick, for example, would not complement an autumnal orange sweater.

14. However, if you're wearing black, you can probably pull off just about anything.

15. Break the rules if you want. "If a person is scared of red lips, (she should) go with what looks best with her skin tone and hair color," said Myra Petty, cosmetics manager at Dillard's at Hamilton Place. "If it's an attitude thing, just put it on."

Sources: Karmel Jochlym, Clinique consultant, Dillard's; Cassandra Russell, business manager, The Edge Beauty, Dillard's; Myra Petty, cosmetics manager, Dillard's; Jodi McGee, MAC, Belk; Carmen Martin, business manager, Bobbi Brown, Belk; Eleni Tingirou, counter manager, Chanel, Belk.