Please, where can I find a safari trouser-suit in cotton/polyester? Also, is viscose as cool a material to wear as cotton? I want as cool a material as possible, but one that is as crease-free as possible and will keep the sun's rays off.
A Thornton (Mrs), Wirral
ps: My nearest large towns are Liverpool, Birkenhead and Chester.
Viscose comes from wood pulp so it isn't a synthetic fibre, it is a man-made fibre from a natural polymer (posh word eh?). Therefore, it will be pretty breathable, but nothing is as cool to wear as cotton or linen, I think. The downside to this is that these fabrics crease to buggery. Go for a lighter colour where possible (although I have also included some darker ones), as this will reflect the sun, rather than absorb it, thus keeping you cooler. My excellent helper this week is Tania, a girl with ridiculously long legs, who is studying something rather flash in Scotland. She has dug long and deep to find answers to problems this week. Jaeger (0171 200 4000) do a mink-coloured trouser-suit in crepe, jacket pounds 330, trousers pounds 140, sizes 8-18. Fenn Wright & Manson (0171 323 4821) have one in a 100 per cent lightweight linen, belted with flapped pockets, pounds 130, and matching loose trousers, pounds 90, that comes in various colours. Karen Millen (01622 644032) do a chocolate-coloured, belted, four-pocketed jacket, pounds 150, trousers, pounds 85, in a lightweight crepe material (sizes 8- 14). Freeman's catalogue (0345 900 100) do a beige, short-sleeved trouser- suit in viscose/polyester (dry-clean only); jacket, pounds 50, trousers, pounds 37.
Can you help me with the address of an old-fashioned corsetiere? It's really for my husband who has had an operation which has left him without much in the way of stomach muscles - currently he is wearing a wide elastic belt from John Bell & Croyden because he hates all the things designed by the hospital and says they are useless. He knows just what he wants and thinks someone with the necessary skills could make it for him. I realise this is probably too odd a request to find its way into your column, but there might be other people who need a good corset made to measure for other reasons. He also wants an old fashioned swimsuit - not boxer short but not shiny latex either. He's a pain, but can you help?
Sue Davies, Bucks
I'd like to appeal for anyone making corsets to write in, because I don't know of any. As for these sexy-sounding swimsuits, HOM do some that might be good: "Uselli" has a scoop-neck, short legs in black/ indigo, about pounds 49; "Arnissa", nylon/elastane, plain top and lower legs, horizontal stripe on midriff, white edging on neck and arms, in black/white or marine/white, about pounds 65; "Igor" in nylon/Lycra, similar to previous but with lower neck and arms and bold, vertical stripes in black/white and blue/white, about pounds 67. All sizes 30 to 38. From the HOM shop, 519 Brompton Walk, Thurrock Lakeside. Also mail order on 01708 891012.
In December, I bought a silver-coloured Schott pilot's jacket which cost me nearly pounds 150 - but I thought it was well worth it as it was very warm and comfortable and even, I was told, fireproof. About four weeks later, I took it to be dry-cleaned for the first time. When I collected it from the shop it smelled terribly of fried onions and I said it would need to be recleaned. When it came back again it smelled fine. The trouble is that over the past few weeks the fried-onion smell has gradually come back - I can only assume it has something to do with the dry-cleaning process. What am I to do? If I go out wearing it my friends and colleagues will think that I hang around cheap hamburger stalls. Can you help?
Iain, London NW10
Schott's head office in New Jersey said they don't do a fireproof jacket. Harrods (who stock Schott) said the fabric content of your jacket is 50 per cent nylon and 50 per cent rayon on the outside with 100 per cent nylon lining. The padding is 100 per cent polyester fibre-fill. Dr Richard Neil at the Dry Cleaning Technology Centre was very helpful. He said unusual smells are a common problem when it comes to dry-cleaning complaints. Yours sounds like (and, obviously, he can only speculate) it is due to a cleaning error, where there had been a chemical breakdown in the solvent used (this would account for the immediate ponginess). Or, as the smell also came back gradually, it could be due to the fabric finish (ie manufacturing fault). Either way, ask your dry-cleaner to use a different machine to the one they used previously. If the problem persists, take the jacket back to where you bought it, explain what has happened and they should send it back to Schott.
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