dear annie

I am planning to wear an ankle-length white linen dress to a midday wedding and reception in the summer. The dress has a high yoke, pleats in the body, and is sleeveless. Can you suggest the most appropriate shoes to wear with it? I would like something with a low or even no heel, which I could wear again on less formal occasions. I have a pair of low silver court shoes - would they serve? What kind of handbag would you suggest, or could I get away without one? I'll have my toddler with me, and may need to carry a few toys or books to keep him amused.

J. Harvey, Dyfed

Yes, your silver shoes would go with your dress, and yes, you could get away without a bag, but there is always something you will need to carry (especially with a toddler). What I would suggest is wearing a bag with a long strap that can be worn across the body, which would look nice and also be comfortable; or failing that, a shoulder bag. Silver would match the shoes and would be suitably dressy for a wedding. Alternatively, brown would look nice with white. If you did want to buy some new shoes, this is what I have found for you: Dorothy Perkins has done some great thongs and strappy sandals in silver which would look perfect with your dress and can be worn throughout the summer. Both styles cost pounds 12.99 - call 0171-291 2604 for your nearest stockist. Fratelli Rossetti has some lovely flat strappy sandals for pounds 138 should you opt for brown instead. Call 0171-491 7066 for mail order details. Bags: Dollargrand has some silver bags, but they are light silver so may not match your shoes if they are very silver. The bags are nice and roomy and prices start at pounds 60 for the small "U" (style 356). Call 0171-431 2756 for details. My personal favourite, although it's not a cheap recommendation, is to get a bag by Emily Jo Gibbs. I think it is always a good idea to have a beautiful evening bag that can serve at occasions such as this and if you do decide to go for something smaller, then bear in mind her filigree or organza bags. They start at pounds 200 but are exquisite and you will treasure them for years. Call 0171-490 8834. Finally, a little bag that's very different and that might interest you, although it's a hold-in-the-hand one, which might prove tricky with a toddler as well. It's called a labyrinth bag and is very ingenious, and also hard to describe - one piece of leather with slits in so that it collapses flat but when you lift the handles up it becomes a cute little shopping bag. It costs pounds 65 and you can call 0171-924 4296 for stockists.

I have recently delivered baby number five and it'll take a while for my saggy tummy to return to normal. I also breastfeed for centuries, so I need buttons down the front. I'm looking for a summer frock with short sleeves. Is there such an animal?

Jennifer Lass, London

Thank you for your wonderful drawing. It made me laugh. I've concentrated on mail order for you; I thought that, with five children, you might not feel like traipsing around the shops! I've also stuck to the cheaper end of the market, but with a couple of dearer ones, because I didn't think you'd want anything madly expensive while you're breastfeeding - spills and all that. Racing Green has done my fave dress of the season, a gingham check dress (style DD301), which is perfect for disguising a bit of a tummy. It has a scoop neck and short sleeves and comes in tiny navy and white checks, sizes 8-18, either 31in or 33in length and costs pounds 39. The same style is also available in chambray in blue or pumice (looks like a hessian colour), style DD321. Call 0345 331177 for details. Then there is a company called Nightingales which does mail order and also has several shops up and down the country (the one in London is at Monterey Place, Mill Hill Broadway, NW7, phone 0181-906 4366). I can't say all the styles are to my taste, but then my taste isn't everyone's. There are lots of dresses like you describe and prices are around pounds 30. Now for the more expensive suggestions: Wealth of Nations does a navy silk A-line cheong- sam dress with toggle fastenings (a bit fiddly, I admit). The A-line would be flattering for you and it comes in sizes to fit a 34in-40in chest. Finally, the Kingshill catalogue features a dress by Artwork which has buttons to the hip and is fitted to the waist and then flares out. It comes in pale blue and white stripes in pure cotton in sizes SML. The style no is H21052 and it costs pounds 146. Call 01494 890555.

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