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:


AT LAST I have a reason to ask for your assistance! I love my husband dearly so want to humour him in his quest for a monocle. As with most other long searches for items, I know that once found it will sit in a drawer and never be donned, but, as I said, I love him dearly. This is for his birthday, which is looming (in September) and I hope that at least you can steer me in the right direction. I have tried all the larger opticians, alas with no luck. I should also mention that I work from home (in Twickenham) and have a young baby to mother, so if I can avoid travelling too far it would be wonderful. I hope this is not too much trouble for you and I will be forever in your debt if you can help.

R, via e-mail

I have taken your name off in case your husband reads this and the surprise is spoiled. See how considerate I can be? I say this because I have had, this week, a letter asking me why I have been so "nice" these past few weeks, and am I going soft? Of course not, but I fear a bad mood may be coming on soon so I'd like you all to make hay while the sun shines and remember how kind I can be so that I will not feel so guilty when I cut some poor reader off short for wasting my time. Now then, R. I found two opticians in Twickenham that can help you - I rang them myself. The Optical Gallery (16 King St, tel: 0181 982 2800) can do them to order, from pounds 60, as can Frith Robert Opticians, (104 Heath Road, tel: 0181 892 1682) from pounds 50. Kirk Originals Manufacture can also make them to order, from pounds 100 but is based in central London (0171 240 5055).

Please could you help me find out if Island Earth shirts are still available? They are beautifully soft cotton shirts and my boyfriend adores his but it will soon only be fit as a comfort rag!

Jane Marsh, Lutterworth, Leics

Jane, I have searched high and low and, thanks to my being so internet- friendly now (all credit to my Zoom column - I can search the net. And I have, for you, searched the world telephone directories and done a good old swoop. Nothing. There is something called Earth shirts ( but they are dip-dyed T-shirt things. If anyone else can help, please do not be shy and write/e-mail me. Thank you.

For a while I thought you and Annalisa Barbieri were one and the same person, then I decided you weren't. Now I'm not so sure ... anyway. I've bought myself a nice cotton gaberdine shift dress in blue and yellow and I need a yellow belt to go with it (preferably in plastic). I imagined that as yellow is this season's colour it would be easy to find, but no.

Jayne Cooke, London SE1

No of course AB and I aren't the same person! I have had to quash that rumour on many occasions. She is all urban and uptight while I am countrified and laid- back. But you are right that yellow belts are devilishly difficult to find. Bloody right. I looked everywhere for you with no luck. You will have to search the second-hand shops. For example, Crazy Clothes Connection (tel: 0171 221 3989) has a lemon- yellow plastic belt (with round yellow buckle) at the moment for pounds 15, which is quite a bargain.

Some helpful replies to replies that I've received:

In response to Georgia's T-shirt bra problem (18 July), you may well be amazed to learn that the declining M&S produces an excellent model of exactly what she needs. I am 36B and wished for the same as Georgia. When I tried the M&S T-shirt bra (available in black, white and flesh) I was so impressed I bought six! It has a seamless cup, is underwired and is lightly padded and I must say that my previously unremarkable chest actually receives compliments from husband, colleagues and strange men!

Emma Dry, Knutsford

Thank you for that, Emma.

I'm new to your column and was interested to read the request for the Julia Roberts' Chinese jacket (18 July). Isn't it always the way when you see something (or someone!) gorgeous? It always belongs to someone else and is not obtainable. However, you did miss a superb establishment where Kitty could try for a similar jacket: Wardrobe, 51 Upper North Street, Brighton (tel: 01273 202201) Clive and Philip run this fantastic period clothes emporium. I bought my wedding dress from them - red velvet and not another one like it! If you're ever in Brighton, pay them a visit. I bet you can't get out without buying something. Tell them Sally sent you. Here's hoping to see my name in print.

Sally Taylor, Worthing, West Sussex

Well I hope your credit is good with them Sally and that telling them that "Sally sent me" won't mean they set the dogs on us. What useful information - thank you for that. And I'll tell you something else, Sally, that you didn't know and I have just found out. Clive who runs Wardrobe has another business called First Call and his business partner in that is the very same Shuna Harwood who was the costume designer in Notting Hill!! So you, madam, were spot on when you said Wardrobe was just the sort of place to get a similar type jacket because the original belongs to the business partner of the owner. I hope this is perfectly clear.

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