Jane Greenfield, Windsor
You should definitely visit Agent Provocateur which is at 6 Broadwick Street, London W1 (0171 439 0229). It has some wonderful Christian Dior lace girdles in black and camel with suspenders that cost pounds 90, and some very modern VivienWestwood girdles with bustle cage (to enhance your bottie) for pounds 190. Berlei (01525 850088) do a High Line zipped girdle which has a zip at the side but it is only available in white, it has lace at the front and costs pounds 29.99 and comes in sizes M-XL (36in-51in hips). For autumn/winter 1996 (which will be in store in September) Warners is launching a new lace collection which will feature a "cinch suspender" in sizes SML for pounds 32 and it will be available in white, damson with lilac and black with blush. It is described to me as "dead sexy, retro 1950s styling but comfortable". Might try one myself. Warners' clothes are sold in department stores nationwide, ring 01159 795 796 for a stockist near you.
As a vegetarian I try to be aware of how things are produced. I have a problem with silk - I have heard it is produced by steaming silk worms alive. So for years I have avoided buying it. Can you tell me what goes on - I secretly have a hope the silk worms have a happy little life, so I could buy silk with a clear conscience!
Debbie Watson, Leeds
Oh my dear. I rang the wonderful Textile Institute in Manchester who told me that it is true. The silk worms' cocoons are killed by steam or hot air then placed in hot water to soften the gum (known as sericin) which binds the silk to the cocoon. I didn't know this either and have to admit that I now look at silk in a different way. You will have to continue avoiding silk clothes if you feel this strongly about it. However, you may wish to consider Tencel which is a good silk alternative. Tencel is a cellulosic fibre which is kinder to the environment than the process to make viscose rayon is. It is still a relatively new fibre and quite magnificent. It doesn't involve cruelty to animals in any way. Jaeger, Thomas Burberry, Principles (from 1 June), Bianca (sold in John Lewis and House of Fraser stores) and Marks & Spencer all use Tencel in silk- like garments - look for the swing tickets or ask the staff. No wee worms should suffer now that science has provided us with a worthy alternative.
I am going to a wedding in May and would appreciate your advice. It sounds horribly cliched but I'm a fairly youthful 49, I wear glasses which are modern and stylish - Armani steel-framed - but I hate glasses worn with hats. The wedding will be a smart one, what do you think? I could try to look cool by wearing my tinted lenses. Shall I forget the hat or is there a particular shape which you think will look OK? I have a small face, am 5ft 3in tall and I'm probably asking you the impossible without seeing me, but I'd appreciate your opinion.
Annie Norris, Stroud
You're not asking the impossible, and how could I resist a problem from my namesake. Don't wear tinted lenses, they make people look like they have liver problems. I don't know what your hair looks like but my advice is don't wear a big showy hat, I hate them anyway and I think if you combine such a hat with glasses you'll end up looking like Deirdre from Coronation Street does when she goes to a wedding. Your glasses sound chic, so I'd wear a beret. Kangol do some berets in zephr (which is like stiff aertex) or cotton in black, natural, navy, pearl, sand and white which cost only pounds 17.99 and are available from Co-op branches nationwide (0171 487 4888). I know a beret isn't as smart as some hats, but it's infinitely more stylish. The only other thing I would consider is wearing a long chiffon scarf tied at the nape of the neck (very bohemian) and left to hang down your back. But, of course, it all depends on your hair and outfit - the beret would look good with bobbed hair and a smart suit, the scarf with either a slight beehive (not as radical as it sounds) or long straight hair (think of Meg Ryan in The Doors). Stuff tradition and be cool, Annie.
Finally, this very helpful letter came in from Ms S Lloyd in Holmfirth:
"With regard to recent queries on seamed stockings and suitable suspender belts - the best suspender belt is made by Cover Girl, 44 Cross St, London N1 (0171 354 2883). Although a shop for transvestites, it makes and sells a 1950s-style six-garter (essential), black satin, deep cut suspender belt with proper metal clasps which keeps seams straight and taut (costs around pounds 26). The best seamed stockings - Aristoc Harmony Point - are no longer made; an excellent alternative, made to a 1954 US design with cuban heel (accept no other) is available from The Sheer Factor, 5 Crowden Way, London SE28 (0181 473 7312) at pounds 9.95."Reuse content