America is a melting pot, and fashion throughout the country is a reflection of the diverse community we live in. The type of venue and cultural demographics influence style. Asian, African, Latin and our own Native American features flavor the fashion world. In our eclectic society, ethnically designed clothes can be worn by everyone; you don't have to be Indian to wear a sari or African to wear a caftan, and you don't have to save your ethnic dress for club events.
Spring and summer 2013 features beautiful, dazzling beading and ethnic touches from India, Russia and the Middle East. Expect to see vibrant colors, earthy combinations and lots of peek-a-boo midriffs. Fabrics tend towards light, flowing materials and softer, more feminine lines. Designers are tweaking old-world style into modernized forms of American glamour.
India-born Naeem Khan is the designer and CEO for Naeem Khan. He has designed multiple celebrity gowns and even one for first lady Michelle Obama. Khan appreciated the fashions of his native India and incorporates many features of that style into his American designs. "India plays a very important role in my life and designs. I come from a country where art and tradition is in everything, and my clothes are very much influenced by that. One of the techniques I've used was to cut felt and re-embroider it back onto the pieces, similar to an old Indian technique where they use ribbon, but I modernized it."
New York Fashion Week, which took place in early February and showcased spring 2013 fashions, featured culturally sensitive designers like Naeem Khan (Indian), Marisol Henriquez (Dominican), Cassey Gan (African and South American), Carolina Herrara (Latin), Oscar de la Renta, Altuzarra, Marchesa and more. In response to everyday dress needs, runway models showed off fashionable apparel in everything from casual play and loungewear to business chic and formal dress-wear and gowns.
According to a statement from GDS Fashion, "the new summer season 2013 is all about optimism and reawakening -- on a quest for the positive aspects of the future, full of imagination and confidence. Technology and innovation, sportiness and futurism encounter with a sweet reward consisting of retro romanticism and expressive ethnic elegance."
With spring and summer come proms, graduations, weddings, travel and numerous other festivities. The recurring theme from all of the top designers is that your outfit should be a reflection of your personality and unique style. Top prom gown designers -- such as Sherri Hill, Tony Bowls, Jovani and Mac Duggal -- have released a variety of dress designs from classic simplicity to elaborate flash. The current fashion trends consistently work their way into the junior market. It shouldn't be hard to find that one dress that fits her personality and sends a young girl onto a dance floor filled with confidence.
A few tips for prom dress shopping: Before shopping for that perfect prom dress, a young lady should decide what she wants to say about herself. Does she want her outfit to reflect her ethnic identity? Proms are usually once-in-a-lifetime events and should be as special as her memories will allow. It's a time for maximum fun. Look at dresses and outfits online to get an idea of what appeals to you and what stores carry the style or ethnic clothing you desire. Take someone, a good friend or your mother, with you to the store to try on dresses and let them give you their opinion. Bring shoes with you -- either the ones you will be wearing or ones similar to what you'd like to get -- so you can see everything together; the same goes for jewelry and hairdo. The perfect prom outfit is the one you look and feel your best in. Stay within your budget.
There are many ethnic outfits to choose from. Ethnic clothing can be worn by anyone and is even featured prominently in several teen magazines. Indian saris must be wrapped a certain way. A Cheongsam is a Chinese dress. Native American dresses are adorned with beads. Mexican dresses are colorful and bold. If you do choose to go with ethnic clothing, make sure you know how to dress yourself to display the beauty of your outfit. Follow your fashion instincts and look fantastic.