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Kiran Bahl

What a romantic month to be celebrating! Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! Let's quickly fall into the heart of fashion this month, and become up-to-date on the latest trends.

Lovely weather, isn't it? The one drawback, however, is that when viewing runways worldwide, you see primary focus on winter wear, appropriate for most places this time of year, however, not for us in sunny Florida. Fashion for the South has turned more tropical, as a result, following looks from Hawaii, Puerto Rico and South America.

Think beach. Water and sun have combined a perfect blend for outfits to wear at any occasion. This is actually a good thing - there are endless color shades for blues (blue, royal blue, turquoise, sea green, teal) and yellows (yellow, orange, peach, mustard, rust). Everyone can find a shade to suit their complexion just right. Ladies, imagine a turquoise lengha with a heavy blouse shining with hot orange and peach shades. Dripping from this blouse are brighter-than-bright yellow jewels, creating an excellent contrast and finishing to the piece.

An orange sari with a sea-green blouse encrusted with gold embroidery and stone sets a fashionable note at any formal function. In all this talk of beach weather, who could forget the warm, soft sand between our toes? Think whites, creams and beiges. It's amazing how one color can turn any outfit into a whole different, unique look. A bright pink sari blouse stands out much more paired with a beige-colored silk sari. Even a traditional red salwar kameez or patiala can become instantly eye-catching with a dominant cream color within it.

Jewels follow the same trend. Think of bright gems, brilliant in color, hanging from delicate threading. Blues and yellows remain leading, with gold and antique gold combos following close behind. Sets still remain large as before, but now solid colors are much more in demand, rather than the two or three-shade tones. Bangles remain fancy, with solid colors and silver or gold entangled between. Stone bangles and jhumkhis are becoming a large trend too.

Men, you get to enjoy the tropics too! Find yourselves a fancy white, beige or brown kurta pajama, and match with a bright red or gold dupatta. For simpler looks, a plain kurta pajama with a good pair of loafers is all you need! The easier the look of the season, the easier the men's dressing (we ladies are so jealous)!

For Valentine's Day events, ladies, a sari or ballroom style lengha is a must-wear. It'll accentuate every curve, large or small, and demand attention. Try a maroon/beige combo, or royal blue/peach pattern, embellished with gold zari work and stones. Gentlemen, gather up those Jodhpuris, this is an important time to show your love your style.

White and cream jodhpuris are the winners this time around, but with no silver work. Silver on top of any light, neutral shade may wash you out, something you need not risk. Other than that, feeling bold and beautiful? Pair that handsome Jodhpuri with contrasting and bright shoes. A white piece with maroon shoes or a cream outfit with a navy blue pair are sure to be the attention grabbers of the event.

Send us your fashion questions and concerns. Follow the trend! E-mail us at [email protected] and we'll answer any and all your fashion dilemmas! Here's this month's Fashion Drama question of the month:

Q: What to wear everyday? I just moved from India and am not used to the pants and jeans worn by everyone. Besides, I find Indian clothing more comfortable. What do you suggest to wear everyday? - Sujata, Tampa.

A: Hi Sujata. Thanks for writing. Everyday, casual Indian clothing is great, and here are some suggestions to remain stylish, but simple everyday. Cotton suits are always in style, with little embroidery around the neck and sleeves area. Benzer silk suits may sound hot and stuffy, but are actually cooling and quite breathable. Try a colorful combo, complete with print work on the suit and dupatta, too!

All colors are fine, but steer clear from blacks, dark blues and browns. These colors won't be back until next season for casual looks. How about also trying to fuse your Indian style with American looks? A long kurti with long, flowing skirt can look so pretty, like a lengha. Or a mid-length skirt with strappy kurti - it can look professional, fit for a business meeting, if need be.

Have a happy month, and once again, Happy Valentine's Day to one and all. Make sure to appreciate all your loved ones now and always. And as always, remember to gro with style!

Kiran Bahl of Gro Styles, "An Indian Boutique," 2035 E. Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33612, can be reached at (813) 843-9040 or (813) 903-8334.

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