Can you please help two desperate women? We are both in our mid- forties and cannot find any shoes to fit. My friend Aliye is very small in height (4ft 8in) and takes a size 1 to 11/2. My shoe size used to be a 3 if I wore an insole but shoe sizes seem to have changed and now a size 21/2 is too small for me. Can you advise where we can buy fashionable shoes at a reasonable price, please? Also as we are both small (I am 4ft 9in and a size 6; Aliye is size 8) the clothes we buy tend to be too big and require alterations, which can make the whole thing very expensive. Are there any dressmakers in the North London area that would give us a personal and professional service at a reasonable price? Yours hopefully.

Aliye and Lindsey, Mill Hill, London

PS Aliye is partially sighted and needs more assistance.

It seems that if you are anything other than what is considered the "norm", you have a devilishly difficult time finding anything to fit these days. However, take heart - there are some very good folk out there who deal with the smaller/bigger/thinner/fatter amongst us and that is why I started doing the directories a few years ago. And because they are used to dealing with "odd" sizes most of the staff involved are much more helpful than those you'd find in "normal" shops (excuse these hideous labels) so I'm sure they will be very attentive to Aliye. The two directories that would help you are my Shoe Directory and the Dressmakers Directory. The first lists nationwide stockists/manufacturers of shoes that come in "odd" sizes or fittings; the latter is a nationwide list of dressmakers who I haven't tried personally (that would be a full-time job in itself) but you can ring up those that are near you and see which you like the sound of. I always ask readers to send in feedback, but no one has. Going by the rule of thumb that people often write in more to complain than to compliment, I take this as a good sign. If you have access to the internet you can access both these directories on my website (; if not, send me an A4-sized envelope with 50p worth of stamps for each directory and mark the return envelope with the directory you want. I hope this helps you and Aliye. You may also wish to try the Size 8 club which is offering trial membership of pounds 10 at the moment and was created to help slender types like you find clothes that fit (tel: 01789 842307).

Could you please help me locate a source of Lycra long-legged sporty cycling-shorts-type pants? I bought some in France some time ago, made by Siltex, but they are near to the end of their useful life and I have been unable to replace them.

Tania Bailey, via e-mail

I have tracked a clothing company called Siltex down to Winnipeg in Canada and I did e-mail it on your behalf but no answer so far. If you'd like to try yourself its e-mail is: (fax: 001 204 582 2371; tel: 001 204 582 3071). Failing any of those write to: Siltex Mills Ltd, 10 Robinson Street, Winnipeg, Canada R2W 4C6. I am presuming it is the right company since I have found no other Siltex. Failing that you really can get Lycra cycling shorts from just about any sports shop.

I wonder if you could help me find a swimsuit please. I'm looking for a high-neck, high-back (not racing-back) one in black, size 16-ish. I know it sounds very particular, but Speedo used to do a great one that looked like this and retailed at about pounds 25. However, having scoured most of London, it seems it's been discontinued, and the (not as nice) new version costs a whopping pounds 60! I live in Cornwall so mail order would be ideal, but I do go to London every so often so could wait until my next trip if I need to.

Mary Cavill, Cornwall

Yes, Speedo did used to do one and still does but as you say it costs quite a bit (it is fab though - I swim in mine all the time). If you want to pursue the Speedo angle give the head office a ring (tel: 0115 910 5000) to find a local stockist (and not all its swimsuits cost pounds 60). Otherwise, think of having one made, in the exact style you want, by the fabulous Maureen Smyth who charges off the peg prices (from pounds 25 plus the cost of making the pattern) for made-to-measure. She can deal with you via post/phone (tel: 01903 230861).

Whilst on holiday in Torquay earlier this year I bought a great pair of suede boots. The shop had loads of lovely shoes but unfortunately I can't remember its name. The only thing I can remember is that the logo of the shop was some kind of sailing ship. I hope one of your readers can help me.

Yvonne, Gateshead

Well, can you? Because I have no idea. Postcards attached to doughnuts please.

Can you help me with what is the buy of the season? Is it the Fendi baguette or croissant bag or the Gucci feather jeans?

Alexandra, via e-mail

None of them. I had the misfortune, recently, of sitting next to a young lady who owned a Fendi croissant bag, and it immediately told me (as she plonked it on the table for all to see) that there was little more to her. And during the course of the next five minutes, I was proved right. The absolute must-have accessory of the season is the Captain Moonlight badge (he's on holiday right now but check out his column towards the back of the main paper when he returns in two weeks). I was the very first woman to have one. Not only is it very attractive, but it's also devilishly difficult to get - far more so than any of the above.

Send your fashion problems to: Dear Annie, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, or fax them on: 0171 293 2043. E-mail:


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