Dear Annie

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My girlfriend has the ability to combine sober, sensible clothes with something a bit more frivolous, frilly and playful, without looking tasteless or overdressed. She has great legs and prefers to wear stockings when the length of her skirt allows it. I've bought her a white skirt and want to buy her some stockings to go with it. I'm thinking of some with a swirly lace pattern or a glittery seam, or anything that has a bit of life. Fishnet stockings come to mind but I think there's always something a bit cheesy about them. I find the hosiery section in department stores a bit daunting with (to the untrained eye!) row upon row of basically the same colours made by different firms. Can you help me with any suggestions, as well as the names of manufacturers, so I'm armed when I next visit a department store. If the answer lies in a specialist shop in London please mention that as I visit London fairly regularly.

Martin Forrester, Chorlton

My dear boy. I know that some people feel that ladies and gentlemen of the press can have too much power, expressing, as they do, feelings and opinions that may influence many. But if I achieve one thing through this column it will be the eradication of swirly lace tights. They are foul things that should be foisted upon only the most unfortunate of women, perhaps as a punishment for adultery, in countries that still punish for such things. If you love your girlfriend, even if you like her, do not, I beg you, buy her novelty tights. Words like frivolous, playful and frilly may come to your mind, but words such as naff, passe and Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink are the only words that come to mind when I think of such hosiery. Forgive me this violent opinion and let us get on with guiding you around the hosiery world. The best specialist shop for hosiery in London, in my opinion, is Fogal. But it is expensive. There is a branch at 36 New Bond Street, W1 (0171 493 0900) and it has a brilliant array of tights, from boring but excellent opaques and sheers to something a bit more "novelty". Then you might want to pop into Fenwick at 63 New Bond Street (0171 629 9161), and then John Lewis and Selfridges on Oxford Street. The brands to look for are Jonathan Aston, which is well known for more fancy hosiery (and in fact has a red lacy pair if you really want), and Wolford for something unusual such as seamless tights (Fatal) and, yes, netty/lacy tights. You are sure to find something a bit unusual among all that lot.

Could you please tell me where I can get "rub and scrub" mascara from? You know, the kind that comes in a solid cake format and you apply by dampening a brush and rubbing it into the cake.

Cindy, Staffordshire

Chanel does a lovely one called Le Regard de Chanel which contains three products: eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara with a separate applicator for each. It is available from department stores nationwide, comes in black or brown and costs pounds 29.75. It is a very classy product. I must point out that I know very little about make-up but luckily my utterly gorgeous assistant Sarah, who is always immaculately coiffed and maquillaged, knows a thing or two about it and was able to help me out here.

I need help with shoes. Nothing too posh, and I have the usual overdraft problems. I have some difficulty finding comfortable winter shoes because my feet are fairly broad, although this has become easier. The real problem is in summer, as my feet are sweaty. It's not my fault - it's genetic - we are a family of foot-sweaters. In winter my socks and insoles look after the problem, but I really, really want to be able to wear lightweight summer shoes without socks or tights. I tend to wear either plimsole type canvas shoes, with insoles and keep washing both, or strappy sandals which give enough draughts, plus insoles if not too hideous, though nice sandals tend not to fit my fat feet. How can I wear standard enclosed summer shoes? Has science come up with a solution? Do foot deodorants work? Are my summer outfits forever destined to look elegant to the ankles and ridiculous thereafter? Help me!

Jo Griggs, East Sussex

I have no idea if foot deodorants work as, she says smugly, I have never had any need for them. In fact my feet have always been so remarkably unsmelly that it has caused astonishment among my friends. Once when I was on holiday with five girlfriends we all bought the same flat canvas shoes. Towards the end of the holiday all theirs stank like an incontinent tramp's pants, but not mine. Of course you know about the merits of wearing footwear with leather insoles rather than yukky perspiration inducing synthetic (quite a lot of the time shoes will have leather uppers and synthy stuff next to your feet which I think is quite, quite stupid). There isn't a solution as such, just some suggestions. For a few years I have been wearing Panama Jacks which are blissfully comfortable. They are flat ergonomically shaped backless sandals and I'm rarely out of mine in the summer. They're not hideously hippyish as some of those styles can be and they are surprisingly versatile - I even wear mine with my Armani suit (yes I have one) and they look well classy. Prices start at pounds 39.99. Call 01582 765774 for your nearest stockist. Scholl also does a similar style called the Airbag, which cost pounds 29.99 and are available in large chemists and shoe shops. Both are ideal for wider feet as a) they are wide fitting and b) they are easily adjustable. Luckily, thongs are big news this summer and all the shoe shops have covered them (Next, Clarks). You could always try putting talc in your shoes to absorb the excess moisture. I always dust my shoes with talc after wearing them and you might also like to try cedarwood foot trees (John Lewis) or cedar blocks (haberdashery departments, Body Shop), which are good to pop into potentially whiffy shoes while they're resting.

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