What do you think of those trousers that are ever-so-slightly flared at the bottom - are they still fashionable? Do you know of any simple black ones that cost no more than pounds 120?

B. Gordon (Ms), London

I think they are great and one of the most endearing trouser shapes of recent years; they are perfect over ankle boots and are stylish and slimming. A nice pair to try is one by agnes b called the "Pant Alto", which comes in black only and costs pounds 104. They have a shop at 111 Fulham Road, London SW3.

I bought the Marks & Spencer black Tactel slip that you mentioned. It is wonderful. However, as you know it has shoe-string straps and I cannot wear it without a bra. I've tried strapless ones but my bust is quite large (34DD) and believe me, it does not look good with a strapless bra. The slip would look great worn as a dress but all the bras I've tried have straps which don't align with those of the slip. I thought if anyone could help, you could. Please do!

Georgia, Plymouth

Thank you for your drawing showing me what the problem is; it is easily solved. I know exactly what you mean. Firstly you have to get a black bra with as simple a strap as possible: no fancy lace, scalloping or beefy belt-size straps. Then put the bra on, put the dress on top and and move the dress around by pulling it slightly under the arms (effectively stretching it out a bit) until the straps are one on top of the other, then just run a few stitches along (sort of under the arm) to join the dress to the bra - it will just look like your dress straps and your bra straps are one. I find people are always afraid to stitch themselves into clothing, but it is not frightening. Often a quick one-two with a needle and thread can remove the need for fidgetting.

I wonder if you could answer two more questions about seamed stockings? I've tried to buy silk ones without success for some time now. Even a rare trip to Harrods failed to bring any joy. Do you know of a stockist? Also I would love to get hold of a pair which have a little bow at the top of the heel on the ankle. They have them in white for brides but nothing in black.

Emma Boardman, Manchester

Well, firstly this little bow business: little bows at the back of the ankle are not great. They look like you've stuck a plaster on the back of your heel and it's slipped. Secondly, silk seamed stockings, with or without bows are impossible to find. I know, I've tried. Everyone does seamed stockings, lots of people do silk, but not the two together. You may have seen that Yellow Pages ad where Albert (I think that's what he's called) promises some bird some silk stockings and he finds them in a specialist shop? Well that gave me an idea, so I rang up all the 1940's shops I knew; no joy. "Modom, they are very difficult to find," I was told again and again. I don't have a Yellow Pages for the Manchester area, but please try that. Someone, somewhere may have a pair, but they will no doubt be old stock, as I know of no modern manufacturer that makes copies. As for finding them with a bow on as well, I think you might be asking a touch too much.

I am 4ft 11in and have great difficulty finding clothes to fit, particularly coats and jackets. I am currently looking for a raincoat, but even size 8, petite fit, is too large - in width as well as length. Where can I find smaller sizes? I am prepared to travel a reasonable distance.

Karen, Canterbury

Things in the bigger sizes department are bad enough, but clothes for the smaller woman are even harder to find. You didn't specifiy a price so I have tried to trawl across the board for you: MaxMara do a lovely microfibre (which is really soft) one in their Weekend label. It is slightly A-line, with covered buttons, raglan sleeves and it is shorter than usual. It is available in beige and navy and costs pounds 193. Their size 8 comes up very small. The closest stockist to you is: Silks, 59/61 High Street, Tunbridge Wells, Kent or Eves, 84a High Street, West Malling, Kent. The stockist inquiry number is 0171-287 3434. Burberry also do the king of raincoats, their world-famous trench or the single-breasted Lawbry, in sizes 6-18, which come in petite/regular/ long and extra long. There is also a short mini belted version of the raincoat, which is known as the Bodmin (sizes 6-18); I think this would be particularly good for you (ladies raincoats start at pounds 395). Burberry's "younger" label Thomas Burberry do more modern styles in the same sizes (prices start at pounds 120). If size 6 is still too small (which is unlikely), Burberry do their classic trench in children's sizes (prices start at pounds 120). I hesitate to suggest children's clothes as I know some petites find it insulting (even though you benefit from no VAT) but Burbie's children's trench is very classy. All of their trenchcoats and raincoats come in colours and fabrics too various to mention here; they have no stockists in Canterbury but if you call their mail order/inquiry number on 0171-930 3343 they will be able to help you.

8 Annie Needs You! As this column attracts more and more readers' letters, with increasingly hard-to-solve problems, I'd like to put out a heart-felt plea. Do you specialise in weird and wonderful sizes; specialist clothes (old-fashioned, antique etc) or accessories; a special service (eg maternity wear by post) or generally any obscure or rare item of clothing? I'd love to hear from you so that I can keep the information on file for use in future columns. Write to me at the address below and I'll go out and buy a new filing cabinet.

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