This review will attempt to do two things: (i) discuss some of the data which are available for testing the theory of evolution of low mass stars, and (ii) point out some problem areas where observations and theory do not seem to agree very well. This is of course too vast a field of research to be covered in one brief review, so I shall concentrate on one particular aspect, namely the study of star clusters and especially their colour-magnitude (CM) diagrams. Star clusters provide large samples of stars at the same distance and with the same age, and the CM diagram gives the easiest way of comparing theoretical predictions with observations, although crucial evidence is also provided by spectroscopic abundance analyses and studies of variable stars. Since this is primarily a review of observational data it is natural to divide it into two parts: (i) galactic globular clusters, and (ii) old and intermediate-age open clusters. Some additional evidence comes from Local Group galaxies, especially now that CM diagrams which reach the old main sequence are becoming available. For each class of cluster I shall consider successive stages of evolution from the main sequence, up the hydrogen-burning red giant branch, and through the helium-burning giant phase.