Dear annie

Ready to wear

I need some advice on what measure I should take to stop my clothes being swamped by static. I have a certain dress from Miss Selfridge that I bought and have never worn as it just sticks to me and looks ridiculous. What causes static? My body? Washing powder? Cheap material? I am sick of my hair looking like Edward Scissorhands's whenever I put a jumper on. What cheap ideas can you offer me?

Katy Ross, Oxfordshire

I don't know if you have been reading this column lately but Mrs Crocker of Bath had this problem with a dress of hers. Right then: static and what causes it. I turned to the textile centre at DuPont (the people that manufacture nylon and other stuff) for help. They told me that static is discharge of electricity from fabric and it is due to friction and a build up of charge that needs to be discharged for the fabric to become more stable and neutralise. Hydrophobic fibres (fibres that don't ''like'' water, ie that don't absorb water too well, like some synthetics) have more of a tendency towards static than hydrophilic fibres (fibres that love water, such as cotton), and this is because hydrophobic fibres have minimal leakage and so the static can't escape. How to avoid it? Heaps of readers wrote in offering advice to Mrs Crocker about her static problem a few weeks ago and I shall summarise them here: don't tumble dry; don't use fabric softener/do use fabric softener (we were split here, so try both); wash in Woolite; try Go-Stat, an anti-static spray (about pounds 2 from John Lewis, distributed by Coats Leisure Crafts Group).

I have an obsession with the colour purple and would like to be able to dress from head to toe in it. I am 23. Can you tell me where I can buy dark purple jeans, a long floaty summer dress, slim plain T-shirts, two-tone tops and any interesting purple shoes? I prefer to buy by mail order as I am generally too busy to go shopping, but find that catalogue items are often too tatty and cheap looking. Are there any good high street stores for people of my age who now sell by mail order? Please help me as I fear that I may descend into a dark purple hole for the rest of my life if I don't satisfy this need right now.

Clare Lusher, Crouch End, London

Goodness, you are in a state aren't you? I don't know of any high street shops that have started selling by mail order but most shops now open seven days a week so hopefully you will find a bit of time to trawl round them. This is what I've found for you: Jigsaw has two styles of two-tone tops, both in boiled wool and they cost from pounds 36; it also has dark purple heavyweight nylon ribbed T-shirts, pounds 27; vests, pounds 25; and long sleeved T- shirts, pounds 39.95, available from 126/127 New Bond Street, London W1, and branches (tel: 0171 491 4484). Biba, purveyor of purple swirly things in the Sixties has relaunched with design diva Monica Zipper at the helm. It has tons of purple clothes: crepe wide-leg or narrow-leg trousers (both styles pounds 75); velvet wide-leg or narrow-leg trousers, pounds 75; velvet short sleeved long a-line dress, pounds 150; and a lilac- and-purple two-tone top, pounds 30, find them at 15 Shorts Gardens, London WC2 (tel: 0171 226 0663). Ravel has some great bright purple suede shoes for pounds 46.99 (branches nationwide, tel: 0171 631 0224). Oasis has a purple v-neck T-shirt, pounds 14.99; a long sleeved shirt with a sheen to it, pounds 29.99; and a purple suede knee-length skirt, pounds 44.99, from 292 Regent St, W1 (tel: 0171 377 5335). Ghost has done a purple plain crepe long sheath dress which is approximately pounds 100 and is available from its shop at 13 Hinde St, W1 (tel: 0181 960 3121). Hyper Hyper on Kensington High Street (tel: 0171 937 3100) has purple nylon two-tone jeans by Machiavel, pounds 55. As for mail order: Racing Green has a purple long-sleeved T-shirt in cotton jersey, pounds 17 (tel: 0345 331177); Freemans (0345 900 100) has purple velvet hipsters, pounds 34.99; Grattan (0345 444 333) has purple velvet jeans, pounds 29.99; and a purple panne velvet T-shirt, pounds 14.99.

I am 43 years old and have chin length hair and a fringe (dark brown). I have a brightly patterned knitted dress (lots of lines like TV interference with a few spots) from the early Seventies. It still fits but I have never dared wear it. Since watching Casino, however it has made me think of it again. I am 5'9" and a size 10. Do you think I could wear it? I don't want to look ridiculous but it was very stylish in its day and still is (I think). What do you think?

Romney Nichols, Dorset

I think you sound like a groovy bird. But I'll bet thousands of readers hate you for being 43 and still a size 10 (and tall too). Of course, you can still wear it, duckie. Italian knitwear label Missoni (who do things just like your dress) are really sought after and very chic, so you'll be the trendiest woman in Dorset.

An apology

Two weeks ago (18 August) I mentioned the Dry Cleaning Technology Centre and wrote that the person who picked up the telephone had been most unhelpful and put the phone down without so much as an "I'm a rude pig and no mistake". I'd like to apologise, unreservedly, to pigs everywhere, but especially those on my farm, who, since this column appeared have been refusing to roll around in mud and have been snorting at me in a most unappealing fashion. In the light of mad cow disease and reported mad lamb disease, my pigs are a valuable commodity. So Hermes pig collars all round to my herd and soz soz soz.

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