I hope you accept queries from blokes because I have a small problem - namely smalls. House of Fraser (Lakeside) no longer stock "Matinique" briefs and are unable to tell me where else I can buy them. Can you help me find somewhere that stocks their entire range? (In case you were wondering why specifically "Matinique", they're well made, 95 per cent cotton with five per cent Lycra - providing just the right amount of support for one's bits and bobs - and they're reasonably priced, too - about pounds 13). I hope you can help.

Geoff Stephens, Essex

Of course I accept queries from blokes, as you will see from this week's column. Near you, Matinique pants are stocked at Deauville, 52 Queens Road, Buckhurst Hill, Essex (0181 505 5618) - they've got briefs, boxers and vests in stock at the mo and they get repeat orders every week - or Alders of Ilford, The Exchange, High Road, Ilford (0181 514 7272). For general enquiries, call Matinique on 0181 871 2155.

While in Sydney, recently, I tried on a suit made of tensil (apologies for the spelling, but until then I hadn't heard of the fabric). Unfortunately it was the wrong size, so I thought I would look out for something when I got home. Do you know of any stockists in the Bath area? In the places where I've enquired, their ignorance matched mine, and although I have read an article about how it was discovered by the Courtaulds people in Grimsby in the Eighties, the marketplace hardly seems flooded with the product. Thanks for your help.

Richard Barley, Bath

Without wishing to sound like a schoolteacher, it's spelt Tencel, it is a fibre not a fabric, and its generic name (in the same way that Lycra's generic name is elastane and Tactel's is nylon) is lyocell. When Tencel was invented, it was the first new fibre for 30 years and established this new classification (lyocell). It is, indeed, a wonderful fibre, with a good, meaty handle, a bit like a silk fuji or a silk broadsheet. Helen Storey was one of the first to use it in jeans. Now then, onto Tencel's PR people, who were a little reluctant to give info on Tencel, saying that they thought this column was rather "silly". Let me explain, it is witty. Rather different from silly - although I do admit that if you've never been called witty then the word "silly" might be more familiar to you. But the research is anything BUT silly. Stupid girl. Eventually, they did say that for Autumn/Winter 1997 the following have used Tencel in their collections: Limehaus (01159 632268) and Woodhouse (0171 629 1254) have done Tencel suits; Next (16/17 Union Street, 01225 469828, enquiries 0116 2849624) and Burton Menswear (24/25 Stall Street, Bath, enquiries 0800 138 6138) have done Tencel jeans; All Saints (Cooshti, 57 Park Street, Bristol, 0117 9290850, enquiries 0171 377 5707) have done casual trousers; Bhs (1 Southgate, Bath, 01225 423527, enquiries 0171 262 3288), John Lewis's own label and Ben Sherman (Kitchi Gai, 28 Broad Street, Bath, 01225 465944, enquiries 0800 592 549) have done shirts.

A good friend's ex divorced him because he, among other things, would not throw out his 30-year-old, well-worn, army-issue, string vest. I am coming under pressure over my 40-year-old, navy-issue, seaman's jersey. But I cannot find anything like it anywhere. It is not the shape, a standard no-frills T with a crew neck, nor the colour, navy, but what it is made out of. It is a fine wool yarn which knits up at about 10 rows to the inch. This makes a garment which is cool, yet warm, still stretchy (it is close fitting) and which throws off moisture almost like a raincoat. A thread from the tattered cuff is enclosed. Please help me. I do not know who the winner will be if I have to choose between my wife and my seaman's jersey.

Tom Taylor, Highgate, London

Ooh Tom, well don't chuck out Mrs T just yet because I don't know if I can get you a replacement jersey to keep you warm. I phoned Silverman Military Clothing, 2 Harford Street, London E1 4PS (0171 790 0900 for a catalogue). The manager, Malcolm, said he hasn't seen them around for a long time and can't think of where you might get one. The new navy crew necks he described that they do sounded too thick - they cost from about pounds 20, depending on size. I also tried Laurence Corner, but they had never seen one. They suggested the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, who couldn't help, and the Imperial War Museum thought the nearest you would find to it for its gauge and water repellent qualities is an oiled Guernsey. Also spoke to the Defence Clothing and Textile Agency who put me onto a lieutenant who knows about these things, apparently, but he was on leave. They also said I could try some ex-bishop who is a knitwear expert, but at this stage my family needed me to cook dinner and I gave up. If anyone out there can help get in touch, please...

Comments