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Kiran Bahl

Happy holidays! As we get ready for Christmas and the New Year, we say to ourselves, �Where did 2006 go??� The year flew by so fast that we barely had time to catch up and realize that 2007 is right around the corner What to keep in mind, today and always, is that each day should be celebrated with as much zest and motivation as any day. The holidays include lots of great things, but most important is how they include precious time and memories with the family and friends you love. Let�s also think of something unexpected � the dropping temperatures in Florida! Last year was not as cold, and many are left wondering to wear on top of their fancy party wear this season. We�re here to help.

Santa may have us shivering and freezing, but along with the ice-cold temperatures, come a new slew of fancy outerwear fit for any occasion. Ladies, when wearing a sari, wrap yourselves in a thick, durable shawl. We�re lucky this time around � Neutral outer wear is in fashion, which means having the basics will match any and every outfit. A black, brown or cream shawl perfectly complements any color and style. To keep snug under a pantsuit or salwar kameez, the latest craze on runways is to pair the outfit with a camel or tan peacoat. This fitted jacket with a blazer look will keep you warm and still promises to not make you frumpy or bulky. Do not wear puffy jackets, coats or anything with fur. These looks are 2005, and will make whatever you are wearing underneath just as mismatched and outdated. Fashion this season is all about a dressy outfit with simplistic accessories to tone with.

Saris are still very much �in� this month. Holiday colors such as dark reds, blacks and creams are leading the pack, followed by darker blues and pinks. Leave your blinding oranges and yellows, and bold turquoises and fuchsias home until next spring. Pantsuits and salwar kameezes follow the same pattern, adding simple pastel colors to the mix, such as lilac, sea green and pale yellow. To dress these neutral and lighter colors, make sure the outfit is loaded with lots of glitter and sequins to keep the holiday spirit shiny and fresh gold and silver work (especially when combined) is all the rage, embroidery is not.

For jewelry and hair, keep it simple. Jewelry involves a basic necklace and earring set. Earrings are not as long, though. Keep a short- to mid-length look (preferably with sparkles or stones). For bangles, a few fancy ones on your wrists will speak volumes. Hair is the easiest; just focus on loose styles with just a few sparkly clips as ornaments. A messy look, or Bedhead, will ruin your look. So, make sure when your hair is out, it looks clean and sleek no matter how straight or curly your hair is. s

Gentlemen, keep your Jodhpuris looking updated with a contrasting pair of shoes and belt. An elegant black Jodhpuri to be worn at a Christmas party of New Year�s event can become super-trendy when paired with brown dress shoes and a brown belt. Instead of pairing a cream Jodhpuri with brown accessories, opt for maroon ones. This play of colors will impress your date, guaranteed. To keep from being chilly, wear a heavy wool coat. Runways aren�t flaunting puffy jackets and leather as much this year. For simpler kurta pajamas, do not forget a shawl or heavy dupatta to maintain a very polished style. Just as for the ladies, keep in mind, the outfit must remain dressy but accessories should not. Stick with neutral outerwear as the finishing touch to your look.

We thank everyone who read our article last month and who e-mailed us with their fashion questions and concerns. Follow the trend. E-mail us at [email protected] and we�ll answer all your fashion dilemmas. Here�s the Fashion Drama question of the month:

Q: Hello. Wanted to inquire about long-sleeved outfits for winter. Are they necessary? Can I still wear strappy and other sleeveless outfits even though it�s very cold outside? -- Anu, Tampa.

A: Easy answer � NO long-sleeved outfits. The look now is to wear even the strappiest, laciest outfit. As long as you have the proper outer wear to stay warm and stylish, it�s perfectly fine not to wear a sleeved style.

Once again, happy holidays and Happy New Year. We wish you peace, love, and happiness, along with lots of gifts, food and parties. Most importantly, we wish you cherished moments with family and friends; be sure to appreciate each and everyone in your life, today and always. Thank you again for reading our articles. 2006 has been a fabulous year for fashion couture and trends. 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.

By NITISH S. RELE - [email protected]

Amita Patel was quite young when she began painting. She focused her entire energy on her passion for colors and their medium, in the process winning several prizes. At the age of 12, she was chosen as one of 20 first-prize winners in the UNICEF-sponsored international children�s drawing competition in Paris. Subsequently, her award-winning painting on the theme of a springtime festival was picked to commemorate the 25th year of UNICEF through a 1974 Indian stamp.

�I always wanted to be an artist,� says the Orlando resident. But she ended up pursuing something more rewarding monetarily � dress designing. In 1984, she opened Vulcal, an upscale women�s boutique in Baroda. It was a business that eventually brought her half way around the world from her native Baroda.

�I realized that many of my customers found it difficult to visit my boutique there as frequently as they would have liked to, because they now live in the United States,� she says. �The result of her realization was that she began to take her dress designs to her customers, rather than wait for them to come to her.

She continued to tour several U.S. cities regularly to market her designs and displayed her wares to Florida�s Indian community through shows and exhibitions. And it wasn�t before long that in 2003, she opened the 1,200-square-foot Vulcal Boutique on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando.

But of course the heart and most of the original business is still in India, which she visits at least thrice a year. Back in Baroda, more than 70 employees work on the intricate embroidery of her dresses, some of which require painstaking manual skills. But the creation begins on Patel�s palette, where she carefully chooses colors, cuts and embroidery according to the design before the workers take over.

Patel is known for her designer saris, blouses, salwar-kameezes, ghagra-cholis and traditional shararas in cotton, silk and polyester. �I am very quality conscious,� she says. �New designs constantly come to my mind because I am an artist. I tell my customers to trust me and let me do my job. I like to take up a challenge.�

She won�t divulge names but says that Vulcal does supply designer clothing to wholesale stores in New Jersey and Chicago.

For more information, call Vulcal at (407) 718-4737 or click on

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