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Fashion Tips and Trends -- Sizzling South of the Border!

Waiting for summer's hottest trend? Top designers in the industry are pulling their inspirations from our neighbors to the south and they've embellished this season's hottest items with embroidery replicating authentic Mexican textiles. With the reports flooding the market that the season's hottest new color is 'chili-pepper,' it's no surprise that we're seeing these fun and funky clothes showcased in all the storefronts.

Embroidered tunics and peasant style tops are appearing both in traditional fabrics like cotton, and authentic fabrics imported directly from the source. These floral motifs are bright and colorful and jump out at you, making a statement wherever you go. The tango-inspired dresses of Argentina have designers creating pieces that are billowing and full in length. Just imagine a sultry summer night, filled with dancing the tango or salsa with your favorite partner; one of these dresses will be the perfect compliment to your seductive self. Pull your hair out of your face with a long, silky scarf or tie it up off of your neck; a bare neck is incredibly sexy and paired with the off-the-shoulder peasant blouses, it makes a smoldering combination.

No outfit is complete without accessories and this summer, any and all inspired by the Latin culture is on fire! Jewelry to compliment these extravagant clothes is brass or gold and big and chunky. Gold chain mail necklaces and bangle bracelets are popping up everywhere from New York to Milan. Large hoop earrings or vintage settings with Lucite or colorful glass beading work well too. When you're running out the door, don't forget to grab your hand-tooled leather purse; a must have this year. This is the piece that you can really be carefree with. Even if you prefer to have your clothing more understated, choose a hand-tooled purse that is accented in orange, yellow and red; don't be shy, let your fiery side out to play! To complete the look, you'll need a set of sunglasses, and this season, they remain big.

At the beach, we are seeing crisp white suits that are also embroidered with these colorful floral embellishments. What better place to unwind and be fun and flirty then when you're showing a little skin. If you have a suit you already like, pair it with a thin cotton sarong, embellished with a little Latin flair and slip in to a pair of straw wedges; you'll be a sight to behold when you're sauntering down the beach, either alone or with someone else. Toes are flirty this season also; the most fashionable ladies everywhere are leaving their weekly pedicures with bright, summery colors in tangerines and bright berry shades.

The concept for this type of clothing is not a new one, as the Latin Americas have long been a source of ideas, but until this season, many have overlooked the possibilities. This year, it's making as bold a statement as ever. Remember, when pulling off a look with a bright floral, they inevitably draw attention to the area that they cover; make sure you are flattering your best features!


Explore More Plus Size Fashion Options

Fashion for plus sized women has come a long way since the dark ages. More companies are meeting the demand for sizes over 12, but are you stifling your own fashion sense by donning black material day after day because you want it to slim you down? Instead of being grateful for the sudden expansion of plus sized clothing choices, you might be limiting yourself to black because you know it hides the bumps and curves more than other colors do. Even thinner women often get stuck in black color schemes because they, too, want to look as slender as possible, but all black all the time can be boring! Yes, black does have the slimming effect, but there are other ways you can find the same effect in more colorful clothing options. Plus sized manufacturers are designing clothes that fit better to accentuate the areas you feel are your best qualities, whether it your legs, décolletage, or your arms. The fit of the clothes, not the color, can help you remain fashionable without having to hide behind fabrics. Print fabrics can hide problem areas, such as the stomach. And you can find well-fitting clothes for plus sizes in all types of clothing lines, including casual and evening wear, sporting clothes, and even swimsuits! Check out the different online plus sized stores or catalogs and you’ll find a very diverse selection of clothes to suit your needs. You can find clothes for teens, pregnant women and businesswomen. Adding accessories, such as scarves and jewelry can also help brighten an outfit and possibly hide any area you may not feel comfortable about. Does that mean you should throw away all of those black clothes you have ready on standby for when you’re feeling uncomfortable about your body? You certainly don’t have to, but you should add other clothes to your closet that come in all sorts of styles and colors. The next time you go to your closet to pick out an outfit, the only problem you’ll have is in deciding which one of the beautiful outfits you want to wear to bring out the color of your eyes or showcase your long legs. Don’t get sucked in by the black trend that leaves you feeling despair if someone gives you a bright yellow sweater for Christmas or a salesperson advises you to try on the exotic leopard print skirt they just got in.


Fashion Tips and Trends -- The Summer's Hottest Dresses

What's best this summer? A popular style is the strapless dress. Strapless can flatter any body type, as long it is in the right fabric and the right fit. For example, if you are looking to support a fuller bust, or you feel that your figure needs to be slimmed down, stay away from clingy fabrics, like jersey dresses. Choose a fabric, like heavy cotton with built in boning to create a sexy, streamlined look.

If you fall into the dreaded half-size category, always choose a dress that is one size larger to avoid any hang over in the armpit area; if you fear that it will not fit correctly everywhere else, take it to a tailor and have it taken in only in the areas that need it. One of the hottest new looks for the strapless dress is to wear a paper-thin t-shirt, in a solid color, underneath it; if you choose to go with bare shoulders and are worried about being a little chilly in the evening, purchase a cropped jacket or a wrap knit in silk for a luxurious feel all night long.

Shift dresses are another hot look this season that compliment any figure. They are cool and comfortable no matter what you are doing, and the swing they give is flirty and fun. You can pair these dresses with wedges, flip flops or ballet flats and still have a great look; jelly shoes are back in again too and these are such a quick and fun slip-on. The beauty of the shift dress is that it takes you back to the less stressful, younger years in your life when you were busy chasing butterflies and running through sprinklers instead of chasing cabs and running through the subway.

Keeping with the newest Latin American inspired trends, Mexican blanket tube dresses are popping up on the runways, accented with bright floral patterns. Remember, bright patterns accent whatever area they cover, so, if you are self-conscious about a specific area of your body, choose a solid and wear the floral on the area you feel is the most sexy. These tube dresses will turn you into a sexy senorita within minutes of slipping them on. Similar to the strapless dress, they show off bare shoulders, but typically have a less structured look; these dresses make it easy to dance the night away with a special partner. Complete this look with a pair of wedge espadrilles and a chunky beaded necklace in turquoise.

All this talk about dresses! What about the proper underpinnings for these amazing summer pieces? Every girl that has ever worn a strapless dress knows that the one downfall, no matter how well it fits, is that you find yourself tugging at it to keep it in place. So, follow a few, simple rules, and you'll be able to wear your summer dress all day and night without another thought. To avoid a "shelf" look, choose a strapless bra that offers under wire or lightly molded cups. No matter how big or small ladies, you need to lift and separate! The exception to this rule is if you are wearing a dress that is made of a heavier fabric, such as cotton or linen. Choose a bustier instead of a strapless bra simply because, the heavier the fabric, the more it will weigh your breasts down; a strapless bra will not provide the all day and night support that you will need and it will make your breasts appear saggy. Let's face it, no one enjoys that look!

One last note about the strapless bra; when shopping for one, it is recommended that you purchase a bra that is one size smaller in the band than you typically wear. This variation will provide additional support and lift when you need it the most; remember you're going for function over sex kitten, when it comes to pulling off the summer dress look!


Fashion Trends --- Dressing For The Cause

'Socially Responsible' has become a buzzword like no other; between oil, conflict diamonds, and depleting natural resources, many designers feel that the earth can only give up so much, and many are working really hard to squash the myth that organic equals crunchy. What started with Al Gore's movie and the RED campaign at the GAP has become an all out phenomenon with celebrities leading the way. Instead of opting for typical diamonds, many are choosing to purchase conflict-free diamonds as a way to show that they are socially responsible. Turn on the television to any talk show, and one celebrity or another is discussing what they do to stay green. So, as a style conscience consumer, how do you stay fashionable while being socially responsible? Fortunately, designers have done all the hard work, so all we need to do is shop!

Choosing fashions and accessories made from recycled materials is a great way to do it. The amount of jewelry out on the market that is made from vintage baubles and recycled and antique pieces is amazing, and beautiful. Look at any new line for the summer or fall, and you'll see the market is flooded with it. These large and punchy pieces look great with shift dresses and the large handbags that are hot right now as well. Speaking of handbags, choose a faux leather bag from one of the many up-and-coming vegan stores as opposed to the standby leather handbag.

This season, and likely in the future, you will see many designers donating a percentage of their profits to climate projects or other environmental organizations. In addition, you will begin to see more and more products, including denim, being made from organic cotton, bamboo, corn polymers, milk and seaweed; it seems impossible, but it's happening. Many manufacturers are also striving to integrate production processes that eliminate PVC.

In Asia, designers have begun making woven handbags from recycled newspapers to help cut down on their waste issues. Here in the states, we see many top knit and crochet designers doing similar things, except with the plastic bags we all get at the market. If you're not ready to go quite that far, carry reusable tote bags in your car and use them at both the market and the mall; shop around to find the cutest in wicker handbags and you'll leave the store feeling like a million bucks. Many stores are also offering discounts, both on food and clothing items, if you bring your own bags. And let's face it, if there is a discount to be had, you ladies are sure to seek it out and use it!

Body care is also going organic and socially responsible. Face powders, bronzers and lip glosses are going to flower-based and paraben-free ingredients. Sunscreens, deodorants, lotions and oils line the shelves of all major department stores touting all-natural and organic ingredients. Reports on these products indicate that they work just as well, if not better, than the traditional products that we've used for so long. Not to mention, you get to flash that gorgeous smile knowing that you haven't coated your beautiful skin with chemicals.

As a whole, the fashion industry is moving in a more sustainable direction when it comes to producing their wares; as a result, many shoppers are realizing that being socially responsible doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice your personal style. You can feel good knowing that you are doing your part to help save the environment while still painting the town red in a totally fashionable way!


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