dear annie

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Please help. I love dressing up and would like to buy a few specific items of designer clothes past and present (up to 10 years old). I have kept pictures of the specific items but can't afford the designer price tag. I have written to a number of places but no one seems able to give me an answer. What is your advice, as I intend to keep the items, treasure them and keep them for posterity?

Su Ovenden, Wiltshire

I don't have a clue what you're talking about really. The only way to buy original designer clothes is to scour second- hand shops for them, or possibly contact the designer direct. If you want to have copies made then I guess a dressmaker will be able to make them up for you, but you will be infringing copyright and this is illegal.

Please help me find a party dress. My problem is I need it to be appropriate for both black tie 21st parties and also smart club wear. However, I am size 18 and find it hard to find suitable dresses in this size. My budget is around pounds 300. Can you suggest anything? Preferably in midnight blue or black, or is the only option having it made for me?

Daisy Ryall, London

Well there is a wonderful dress in the Freemans autumn/winter 96 catalogue (but you can order from it now) on page 173, it's by Richards and it is a midnight blue, long velvet column dress with a side split and it comes in a size 18 and costs pounds 70 (I recommended it a couple of weeks ago as well, but it's so great I have to tell you about it, because I think it will be perfect for you). Because it is so simple (and therefore stunning) you can dress it up for your black tie dos (evening shawl, dolly bag, high heels, sparkly jewellery) and dress it down for club wear (flat strappy sandals, cotton cardi, long pendant). You could get a dress made for you of course - it will fit like a glove and be made to your specification and it is perfectly possible to have this done with pounds 300. I can't recommend my own dressmakers any more - I've mentioned them at least four times in the past now - so I hope you have a record of their number from past issues, if you haven't, write to me and I'll send it to you, but if I mention them one more time in this column, I think my editor will shoot me for favouritism.

A decade ago I bought the perfect dress. I could still wear it if I hadn't washed it, since when the ''floating'' full skirt of voile sticks to the lining when I walk. Is there some preparation I could stick it in?

A S Crocker (Mrs), Bath

Dear Mrs Crocker, we corresponded for a while and then I bet you thought I'd forgotten you. Well I hadn't, your letters peeked at me in my in-tray for months. But I have failed so miserably that I feel wretched. I just don't know what to advise: dear readers, does anyone, anywhere have a suggestion? (Yes I'm human too and no I don't have all the answers, most of them, but not all.)

I enjoy wearing T-shirts but as I get older my boobs shrink and my nipples seem to stick out more and are visible under tops. I wear a 34AA bra, can you recommend one with smooth line (no seams) but thick enough to mask the nipple?

Henrietta, Devon

The other day at a friend's party, I noticed that my friend Alex's bosoms looked incredibly pert under a chiffon top. So I said: ''Alex, your breasts look incredibly perky, what's up?'' It transpired that she had two Gossard Glossies sheer bras on, because, she said, it stopped her nipps showing. It worked, but you might find this a) extreme and b) expensive. What she didn't know is that Gossard Glossies does an opaque bra (prices are pounds 12.99-pounds 15.99, different shades available) which stops you having nipple show through and is seamless. They are available in loads of places (tel: 0171 331 4519). However, it doesn't do a 34AA, but it does do a 34A in the soft bra style (I realise this isn't your size, but you never know, it might be okay for you). Warners also does a great range called Not So Innocent Nudes, but again they don't come in a double A cup. What I would suggest for you is their NSIN's body which costs pounds 20 and starts at chest size 32". For those interested, however, they do two bras in this range (they start at a B cup and go up to a D) both are underwired but one is lined and one is not, both cost pounds 15, available in four shades from stores all over the place (call 01159 795796).

I have a linen mix shirt which gets so creased. Is there any way I can stop it creasing? Should I even bother to iron it? It's a fairly casual checked style and I wear it outside my chinos.

Roy, Dover

No you can't stop it creasing, well not unless you keep it hanging in the cupboard. Although it doesn't really matter if you don't iron it (for one, the checked pattern will distract from the creases and for two, the style you describe lends itself to a ''lived in'' look), if the creases are really bad, you will look rather messy, so a quick one two with the iron may not be a bad idea.

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