The only thing I can think to suggest is that you try something called Curves, which are sold at Janet Reger (2 Beauchamp Place, London SW3, tel 0171 584 9360). Although these will do nothing to permanently change your shape (obviously such advice is outside my expertise), they can make a great cosmetic difference. Curves are weird things. They are silicone breasts, really, which you wear in your bra next to your real breast. They are also great fun to play with because they are like jellies. Seriously - they are extremely supple, waterproof, sea and chlorine-proof and come in S,L,XL. You really need to try them to see if they can help (and I hope they do). The downside is that they are expensive - they cost pounds 169 (regardless of size) and I think they should be available on the NHS - something the Labour government should think about because they can give you that bit of extra confidence which is no bad thing. Mail order costs an extra pounds 5 but if they don't suit you, you can get a complete refund/exchange if you return them within seven days.
I have recently developed stretch marks on my legs from eating too much and they won't go away. For summer I don't want them to be seen and I want a swimming costume/bikini with little shorts at the top of the legs. My friend has an absolutely divine one, but it is from France and I can't find any here. I would prefer not to have mail order. I live near Manchester and can go to the city, have a budget of about pounds 30 to pounds 35 and am size 8 (M&S) bust size 32A. Please, please help. I am desperate. I hope the drawings help.
PS: I love your column. I would like especially something in aqua colours eg purple, green, blue, turquoise. PLEASE PRINT THIS LETTER. I would really appreciate it.
You are a size 8, for goodness sake. Eat more (how can you be eating too much if you are a size 8?) and then your stretch marks will - like a depleted balloon that is given a good old blow - disappear. You sound tiny. I used to be, too, and I used to worry about the silliest, most tiniest blemish when I should have been cavorting round in a perennial state of hot pants and sequin boob tube. Now then, M&S do a range of costumes and bikinis with shorts as legs, but none in aqua colours: a black bikini with a white trim and belt (pounds 25) that also comes in a one-piece style with a V-neck top (pounds 25); a black swimsuit with a crossover-strap back (pounds 16); and a pair of black shorts with a vest-top sold together for pounds 18. Or what about a denim-style, underwired swimsuit for pounds 22? Stores in Chester (01244 348441) and Manchester (0161 237 9888). John Lewis's own brand, Jonelle Aquatics, have two in this style - one black and white (about pounds 30) and a green gingham bikini with flower print (pounds 29.50), sizes 10-16 (size 10 will fit an 8). Your nearest stockist is in Cheadle (0161 491 4914). Racing Green do a Fifties-style suit in sizes 8-18 for pounds 25, but only in black. There is a navy one with a striped panel with even longer legs for pounds 25, by mail order (0345 331177) or from the Manchester branch (0161 835 2022). Speedo do a black range - they reckon most legged suits are meant to look sporty and so aren't made in "pretty" colours. Price pounds 30 to pounds 40, sizes 30-42 chest (01159 296131 for stockists). Knickerbox do a cherry-print bikini with hot pant-style bottoms for about pounds 30 but no aqua colours except in wraparound skirts (royal blue and pale aqua) which you can swim in and cost pounds 14.99, sizes 8-14 (0171 284 1744). Kunick swimwear do the perfect one, but the smallest size is a C cup as the manufacturers say there isn't much demand for a low leg in smaller sizes. Finally, Debenhams have a mix and match selection, each piece costing pounds 10. Blue shorts are available and can be matched with a skimpier top, sizes 10-16 (0171 408 4444).
I am responding to a query about the toe-grip sandals (27 April). Sundaes do some for pounds 31.95 and the style is "Loop". They're brilliant and the sandals just go on and on forever. They're extremely strongly made and never fall apart like some toe-post and toe-loop sandals - usually when you least expect it and have to hobble around for the rest of the day!
Mavis Griffiths, Abergavenny
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