dear annie

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Indy Lifestyle Online
A query for the forthcoming winter. Why is it so hard to find knee-high wool or mostly wool socks, the warmest solution for wearing with trousers? Dept store socks are cotton or synthetic and sports store socks are enormously thick, suitable only for mountain hiking in heavy boots. Any ideas?

Marie Frost, London

I don't agree that wool is the warmest thing - and woolly socks can be all itchy, yeurgh. Do have a think about silk. Orvis do some splendid ones for pounds 9 (01264 349500). Fenwick (0171 629 9161) have two suitable types: Falke "soft merino" cost pounds 8.99, are one size and come in black, navy, oatmeal and brown (70 per cent wool, 38 per cent cotton, two per cent Lycra); or KS socks, which are 60 per cent wool, 40 per cent nylon. Field and Trek, one of my favourite shops (and they do a yummy catalogue that I look at while eating my brekkie and dream of being able to do sporty things again) have something called the Field and Trek walking sock (don't let the name put you off because they are quite thin), in 70 per cent wool, 30 per cent nylon, sizes S M L, pounds 7.95. Enquiries: 01277 233122.

In Venice in January I bought a pair of super, black, sheeny-shiny, leather shoes. They are however definitely NOT patent leather, but I do want to maintain their glossy look and have, as yet, dared not polish them. Will ordinary polish dull the leather? Please advise. I remain, your faithful reader.

Margot Beard, Grahamstown, South Africa

Meltonian (01753 523971) do some products ("All Leather Shine Aerosol", pounds 2.90, or there's a "super shine sponge", pounds 1.39) but these products are only available in the UK. In South Africa, try Kiwi products, such as "Kiwi Elite liquid" (00 27 31 719 7111). Mr White, at posh cobblers John Lobb, said that good polish should not dull the leather, and that, although it is difficult to say without seeing the leather, if you spend long enough - sometimes a few hours (!) - any leather should polish up. Some traditional cobblers will polish your shoes for a fee. He gave this advice on polishing technique: all leather needs feeding, so you need to push in a small amount of leather cream in small circles, adding a little bit of water as you're going round as this hardens the polish and helps to get a shine faster, (like old-fashioned spit and polish). After you've worked the cream in, leave for ten minutes and then polish. If you want extra gloss, add a wax polish to enhance the shine. Yum.

As I've never been quite able to kick the habit - acquired in younger, happier days when living in London nearly 20 years ago - of wearing altitudinously high, starched, white, detachable collars "mounting firmly to the chin", I'd be very much obliged if you could furnish me with the name of a manufacturer or shirt-maker who might be prepared to replace my increasingly dilapidated, and apparently irreplaceable, stock of what an admirer once described, not unkindly I think, as one's "Death in Venice" collars.

J A Prufrock, Sligo, West Ireland

I'm not surprised that you have admirers because you have the most beautiful writing, Mr Prufrock (fab surname, too). I was a little unsure what type of collar you meant: a high one like Harry Hill's, or something like an exaggerated mandarin? Never mind. I rang Turnbull and Asser, who refer customers to New and Lingwood for collars. They thought the collars described sounded like straight up collars, which they don't do, although they do have a range of collars, some of which go up to the neck (winged ones). They can't make a replica for you, unfortunately, because the minimum order for the manufacturer must be 24 dozen and they cost around pounds 7 each, so you would really have to love these collars to go down that route. A jolly nice man called Roger at Angels and Bermans thought this sounded like an "imperial" collar, which stands up all the way around. But these stopped being made in the 1910s. As it was 20 years ago in London, he thought that it could be a winged collar, which is the same as the imperial except that the front points bend out. At this point I got stuck. Oh Lordie, I know I've not been doing very well recently but have pity on me. I am very pregnant and have either eaten one too many packets of Walker's crisps (Ready Salted or Cheese and Onion) or my baby is on the way! Hurrah. I might get some time off. If you can help, write to me or e-me. Thank you so much.

Loads of helpful letters came in to help with past problems. Reverend Haynes galoshes: you can get these at Ernest Draper & Co (01604 601580); Worrell Bros (0181 959 1647); Greenock (01475 888555); Michael's Shoecare (0171 405 7436) and Wagstaff (01484 683233). Thanks to all who wrote in. Space dictates that I can't mention you all by name. So, Rev Haynes must be happy now. Remember us all in your prayers, Reverend!

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.

Email: annie@independent.co.uk

Annie regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence

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