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Can I rock florals and avoid looking kitschy?

Stock photo | Getty Images | Lifesize/Stock photo | Getty Images | Lifesize

The question

Florals – I love them. But my boyfriend hates them. Are there surefire rules for dodging the grandma factor?

The answer

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It's true: Your question made me immediately picture a Laura Ashley dress from the 1970s. With a lace collar. Wait, it's coming to me more clearly now: It's your first piano recital. It's in a church hall. You've got flesh-toned nylons on. You need to get rid of those huge plastic-framed spectacles. Anyway – I am opening my eyes now – there are more recent floral pieces on the market that are considerably lighter and less swamping. I'm thinking short cocktail dresses in particular. For advice on how to wear them, I turned to fashion stylist Amy Lu, who told me that "florals tend to get a bad rap because they are often paired with vibrant contrasting colour combinations and loose, unflattering silhouettes." See, she pictured the Laura Ashley tent, too. She went on, more helpfully, to say, "With any bold trend, try to highlight one element [in your outfit]and keep the rest more subdued. For example, a tone-on-tone tailored floral blouse paired with a pencil skirt or slim-fit denim and kitten heels touches on the trend without looking too kitsch."

Russell Smith's latest novel, Girl Crazy , was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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