dear annie

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Your advice about shoulder pads and see-through blouses inspired me to write in. Do you also consider it tacky for me to show the "bumps" of my suspenders when wearing a straight skirt? I have been a dedicated wearer of stockings and suspenders for about 25 years. I don't wear skin- tight skirts, and always wear a slip or a lined skirt. A short time ago, when suspenders were very much in fashion, we all showed our bumps, but now I feel out on a limb. So what do you think? Am I the strumpet that some of my friends say?

Shelly, Wilmslow

The wearing of suspenders does not make you a strumpet, Shelly. That involves other things, such as the frequent and inappropriate removal of one's pants in the company of surname-not-known gentlemen. If you don't wear skin-tight skirts and/or wear a slip or lined skirt then the bumps of your suspenders won't show that much surely? A hint of suspender is rather nice I think. I love wearing stockings and suspenders, but only dare do so with a particular skirt that is long, lined and of fairly thick crepe. I should continue with your sensible use of them - your friends are obviously just jealous. Incidentally, you might like to try Marks & Spencer's Tactel suspender belt - it is rather less "bumpy" than most.

My daughters and I have always followed Marlene Dietrich's advice to wear shoes as close as possible to the skin tone of the leg, for a longer, slimmer silhouette. It lifts short girls and slims plump girls and is easy on the purse because the "long naked leg" illusion matches red, blue, green and even black.

Magda, Gibraltar

Thanks, Magda, for your words of Gibraltarian wisdom, although I disagree with you on the source - I think it was Marilyn Monroe. You are right, wearing skin-tone shoes does make your legs look longer, but it isn't quite as versatile as you make out. If your skin tone is of the pinky beige variety, then wearing matching shoes will not really work with dark suits. It is ideal, however, for summer wear or if you are wearing an outfit of a difficult colour (ie turquoise, yellow) as buying matching shoes would be difficult.

I am starting a new job soon that will involve wearing a suit. I am looking for something conventional but not too "stuffy". Having just graduated I am broke, but if you think I should spend more than the couple of hundred quid I was thinking of, I can ask my parents for a sub. Do you have any advice?

George Stewart, Surrey

You can pick up an excellent suit from Jigsaw or Marks & Spencer for a couple of hundred. There's no need to spend more at this stage. As the new boy, you will only inspire envy and suspicion if you turn up in an pounds 800 suit. And, according to my sources, Tom Cruise wore a Jigsaw suit to the premiere of Mission: Impossible so you'd be in good company.

I am looking for an ornate pair of slippers, almost like the ones I imagine Aladdin wore. I realise they most probably won't be that comfortable but I think they would be really different. Do you know anywhere that makes them? I rarely travel to London (or anywhere really).

Wendy Horsham, Exmouth

The best place to look is some little artsy craftsy shop in your local high street. I do know that there is a shop in Glastonbury called Pandora's something or other (Box I should imagine). It sells slippers that are very fancy and ornate and turned up of toe for about pounds 12.

I am 60 and fairly pale. I am unsure what colours to wear on my top half, as I seem to look so washed out. I have some great "bargain" blouses and tops in pale peach, cream, etc. But my sister-in-law recently told me they "did nothing for me". Should I give them to charity or brazen it out?

Mrs Bishop, Bristol

Next time this evil woman says anything so useless and damaging, employ a Churchill-type put-down and say something like: "Oh darling, do you really think so? I've often thought your face does nothing for you, but at least I can change my shirt. More tea?" But you sound far too sweet. All you need do is add a brightly coloured scarf and that will bring colour to your face and allow you to wear what you please.

Attention! There is a massive backlog for replies to Dear Annie, and although (sadly) it is impossible to answer all your letters, I do try. So if you have written, please be patient.

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