Dear Annie

Could you please help me locate a navy blue Chinese Maoist workers suit, in denim or quilted. A Chinese girl recently told me she had seen one in a mini catalogue which came with an Independent supplement (it had the word 'world' on the cover or maybe it was 'world clothing' or something similar). If you could find this catalogue or know of any other sources of chinese workers suits (authentic if possible) I will be very grateful. Thanks

Andrew Blabey, Devon

I don't know which catalogue you mean, there are always hundreds of catalogues around and I can't keep track of all of them, sadly. I though Wealth of Nations might do them, but they don't. I couldn't find a stockist near you (although of course this sort of thing might be available in a little shop somewhere in which case, as always, I invite people to get in touch...but Neal Street East (0171 240 0135) in London's Covent Garden (and yes they do do mail order) have an indigo cotton suit like this, sizes s,m, l- the jacket costs pounds 54 and the trousers pounds 41. They also do a padded/quilted jacket in indigo or black which costs pounds 106 but there are no trousers to match. They do tend to sell out quickly however, so make sure you ring before making a trip especially.

Can you tell me where I can buy fake fur by the metre to cover a coat collar? Thank you

E. Scott, Edinburgh

For goodness sake, have you looked anywhere? I do think some of you just use me as some sort of servant! Come on now. Fake fur is sold just about anywhere and everywhere you lazy sod. But, because it's Christmas and as I write I am munching on a boozy mince pie (my husband makes them far too alcoholic, hic) I shall help you. Johnny Loulou's have have three types of fake fur sold by the metre: black, bottle green, purple, tiger printed and a grey leopard print. Prices range from pounds 29.50 per metre to pounds 59 per metre. The branch in the St James Centre, Edinburgh (0131 556 9121) also does them although not as many colours (brown, black, brown leopard print and grey leopard print). If you are too lazy to get there, and by the sound of it you might be, there is a postal order service available from the London branch, if you write to John Lewis plc, Dress Fabrics, Oxford Street, London, W1A 1EX. They accept cheques and in non-seasonal times you usually get the fabric in 7-10 days (if you pay extra you can get it sooner).

My six year old daughter longs for a grown up full length nightie with ribbons and lace, preferably pink. I have searched all the children's clothes shops and department stores in Dublin to no avail. Can you suggest anywhere I might try, perhaps on a mail order basis or in Central London, which I visit from time to time on business. With thanks

Aisling Kennedy, Dublin

This was another item that I thought I'd find everywhere but didn't. I got a bit stuck actually. I know waht you mean as I used to have one of these myself but where does them now? I tried all the places I could think of and the only thing I found was by the mail order catalogue Mini Boden (0181 453 1535). It isn't pink as such, it has pink rose buds on a white background (it also comes in blue rosebud formation) and it doesn't have any ribbons, but it is (italics) very pretty and I think your daughter might like it. In sizes 5-6yrs it costs pounds 26 and you can machine wash it (it's brushed cotton). However, because Dublin is classed as Europe the postal charge is pounds 15, so if you have any friends in Northern Ireland or mainland UK, get them to buy it for you because then the postal charge is only pounds 3. Please get in touch anyone else who can knows where you can get these nighties.

I'm currently looking for someone who is willing to cut me a pair of jeans to my own specifications. I last had a pair made in Nottingham in 1986, unfortunately the designer concerned is no longer trading. I would be grateful for your assistance as you proved rather helpful some 18 months ago in my quest for a Russian bear skin hat.

Mr Richard Dekard, London

Levi's do a made to measure service, called Personal Pair, but that's for women only. I'm glad you liked my help with the Russian hat (although I'd like to point out that I guided you to fake fur hats not the actual thing...), gosh, that was only the second or third week of Dear Annie...sigh. Well I don't know who does Richard, so I throw this open to the general public.....

I was really pleased with myself when I found a Christian Dior suit in a second hand shop at a third of its price new. However, I now find that it picks up stains so easily that I'm spending a fortune on dry cleaning. It is bright red and made of pure new wool. Even a splash of water leaves a brownish stain that looks like coffee has been spilt on it. Can you suggest anything? Please keep me anonymous as I don't think anyone in my office knows I buy second hand clothes!

D, Wiltshire

Oh really! What shame is there in buying second hand clothes? Rather canny and clever I think! There is nothing I can suggest, tant pis (that's French) but what a pain eh? Probably why someone bunged it in the second hand shop in the first place. Teflon is now used as a fibre coating to aid in resisting stains but there's not very much you can do with it now...sorry. Donate it back to the charity shop and let someone else have the problem. Tee hee.

Some useful reader replies to Juliet Parkinson's (Dear Annie 30 Nov) requst for size 6 mens' shoes for her husband.

Hawkshead do all their mens shoes in a size 6. Call 0990 434000 for a catalogue.

Joan, Bridport, Dorset

Thank you Joan. You have a fine fish restaurant there if my memory serves me correctly.

I too have a husband with small feet! And we too trudge the streets and malls looking for size 6 shoes. In his case, he actually needs a continental size 39 (same as me) which is a ladies size 6, a mens' size 6 is a 40 and often too big. Try Ravel, who occasionally do size 39 and 40 in certain styles (usually made in Italy where, as you observed, me are smaller). Plain shoes will be the hardest to find because 6 is regarded as a 'youth' size and will often only be available in trendy styles. Fortunately my husband likes trainers as many sports shoe shops have a range which runs through from size 3-11 as does the Hawkshead catalogue. In summer, my delicately footed other half wears deck shoes, unisex and available from boaty shops or he wears trendy strapy sandals (without socks thank heaven) which are also unisex and come in all sizes. As to having them made, at those prices wouldt it be mroe fun to go on holiday to Milan and go shopping? Bet you could buy lovely shoes there...matter of fact why don't we?

S Herbert, Ilford Essex

Thank you Mrs H. You have a fine point about spending the money it would cost to have a pair made, on going somewhere where smaller sized mens' shoes are not so hard to find. I presume, however that you mean you and your husband go shopping and not you and I??? Anyway, Happy New Year everyone and see you in 1998. Da da da da da da da da, na na na na na na na....

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