Like it or hate it HTML email appears to be here to stay. Personally I'm not a big fan, but if you are trying to push your content for publicity it is more captivating than a plain ASCII email.
Anyway getting to the point, it seems the consensus that, most email browsers, as you would expect, do not support the latest design standards, especially the use of CSS2. To deliver a well presented HTML email you are almost entirely forced to use tables and embedded style, for example old font tags which define colour and background colours.
Some email clients remove inline style tags entirely, and obviously online web based email sites such as gmail or hotmail will not accept (and should not) embedded html style. These online email clients strip out style sheet definitions from the email message, as they don稚 want html emails overriding their own sites style definitions. They will also remove <head>, <body>, <HTML> tags as they don稚 want duplicates within the applications web page.
Further reading on this subject can be found:-
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- Web design