My wonderfully warm full-length winter coat, bought 11 years ago, now deserves an honourable retirement. But I am quite unable to find a suitable replacement. There are plenty of warm jackets and short coats, but as a non-driver who has to wait at windy bus stops, I need warmth at my lower end. Although quilted, my old coat is not bulky, and weighs practically nothing. I call it my "duvet" coat. My shape is pretty awkward, 10/12 on top, but 16 below and in my old age (75) I have shrunk to five foot. Colour? The old coat is aubergine, the new one could be the same or black/navy/claret/grey. All my efforts to find such a coat have been wholly unsuccessful. I should be most grateful if you could advise me where to go next.

Antonia Gerard, Highgate, London N6

I TRIED John Lewis, C&A, the Damart catalogue, and BHS for you with no joy. Where you will most probably find one is advertised in newspapers and women's magazines - I know I've seen them, but of course now that I need to find them, they've all disappeared. L L Bean, the fab American mail order company have done one that you might like - it's called their winter storm coat and it is 42" long. It has a drawstring waist that you can use (or not) for extra warmth and it's stuffed with goose feathers and has a Gore-Tex liner to give waterproof protection. It looks very snug and costs $275 (they will translate into sterling when you order). This may be more than you wanted to spend and p&p costs more on top of this - they will advise. Call them on 0800 962 954. It comes in your aubergine colour only, sizes from 8-20. Other than that, I appeal to small women's wear shops that may have done one to get in touch.

I HAVE been looking for my ideal vest for many years - about 15! I wear one all the year as I live in a chilly, hilly area. The vest should be made of knitted silk or cotton with a high back and wide shoulders for warmth, but no sleeves. It should have a V-neck, plunging enough so that it doesn't show under an open shirt. It should cover my waist and finish in a neat rib just below so there are no bulges under trousers. M&S and Patra have quite a range of shapes but they have sleeves, the neck doesn't plunge enough or they are made of thermal material. Surely lots of women would like a vest like I have described at a reasonable price. Can you help?

Mrs J G Woods, Whitby, N Yorks

ALTHOUGH these don't have ribbed hems, I think Hanro are perfect for you. They make dead simple, beautifully made undies. They have four styles that are exactly what you want: style 1972 (this one has a particularly high back, the others are "normal") which comes in ivory or black, in 100 per cent silk, sizes XS-XL, pounds 47.50; style 1401 (shoulder "straps" slightly thinner on this one), in 70 per cent wool with 30 per cent silk (I know you didn't specify wool, but anyway...), pounds 36.50, same colours and sizes; style 1222 (very low V, but in 100 per cent pure new wool but has wide shoulders like you want), same colours, sizes and pounds 29.50; and finally style 1502, in 100 per cent mercerised cotton, pounds 23.50. Hanro are sold in department stores nationwide, but call 0171 245 6231 for your nearest one and details of mail order.

HOW does one fold and securely fasten a sari?

Judith Sawyer, London E13

I SPOKE to Kiki Siddiqi (what a fantastic name eh?) at Ritu in North Audley Street in London W1 (0171 491 4600) who make beautiful saris that range from pounds 125-pounds 1,440. They would be only too happy to help you - or any newcomers - drape your sari, as it is much easier to show than it is to explain in words. (Incidentally, Kiki gave me a sheet of easy diagrams on "how to" which I can forward on to you, and anyone else interested, if you send me an SAE. But really, there is no substitute for having an expert show you first hand.) In the meantime, this is what Kiki had to say: "The sari is a piece of material about six yards long and four wide. Most of this is pleated at the waist, wound round to form a skirt and the remaining fabric swept across the upper body to cover at least one shoulder and sometimes veiling the head. It is part of a three-piece ensemble including a blouse (snug and to the waist) and a full-length petticoat with drawstring waist. To wear your sari hold it with the inner edge in the left hand and tuck it into the petticoat at the right hip. Take the sari round the back of your hip and tuck the upper border in as you go around the waist band of the petticoat until you get to the front again. Now pleat one half to two thirds of the sari - the pleats should be about four inches deep and overlapping - then tuck into the petticoat waist band at the centre (front) of the body. This sounds more difficult than it is. The remaining fabric is passed round the left hip and then gathered or pleated again to drape over the left shoulder. The part of the sari that drapes over the shoulder is called a pallav and can be worn in various ways: to cover your head, wrapped fully around both shoulders in a shawl style or left hanging over the left shoulder."

IN REPLY to David Gardner's problem of 22 December, looking for independent shopping advisers, the following have written in:

"STYLE by Josie" is an independent shopping consultancy service. I have no real interest in the actual label/designer field but what the individual looks like and what suits them. My market has been predominately ladies' fashion, but as the same principals apply I will be willing to advise David. If he is in anyway unhappy with the service then there will be no cost. Contact Josie on 01303 259630.

WE ARE independent shopping advisers for both men and women. We can arrange escorted shopping trips, advise on building a wardrobe or investment shopping on a budget etc. Contact Laurel Herman on 0171 586 7925 for more information/prices.

ALSO in reply to Sally and her Gore-Tex boots, Susan Mansfield of Dublin wrote in to tell me about Dubarry footwear from Ballinasloe, which is sold in Harrods, London and Fitzpatricks in Dublin. Thanks, Susan.

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