Dear annie

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I am looking for a dark brown trouser suit to go with a super pair of bitter-chocolate loafers I brought recently. Ideally, I'd like the suit to be single-breasted and pinstripe. I can spend pounds 200-pounds 250 and could get anywhere in inner or outer London. Even a superficial glance at the fashion pages reveals that brown is "in" again, this season, so I was hoping to find the right outfit without much trouble. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places!

Kate Winn, London, W4

Next (0345 100 500) have a dark brown pure new wool long line s/b jacket for pounds 110 and matching slim leg trousers (with turn ups) at pounds 59.99. Jigsaw on Bond Street (0171 491 4484) have a selection of dark brown trouser suits (sold separately).

The most expensive jacket is pounds 180, trousers cost from pounds 75 (To give you an idea of what they do: chocolate brown calvary twill single breasted jacket and straight leg trousers or aubergine/brown wool fleck s/b jacket and wide leg pants. But no pinstripe.) La Redoute catalogue (0500 777 777) have a stylish suit in stretch gaberdine (page 128) dark brown s/b fitted jacket, pounds 88.50 matching tapered trousers, pounds 46.50. Redoute also offer a trouser suit in stretch fabric (page 134) of wool/polyester/lycra in marl brown, which has a more traditional cut; jacket pounds 88.50 and trousers pounds 44.99. French Connection (0171 580 2508) have a dark brown s/b jacket in pure new wool with subtle pinstripe, pounds 130, and matching straight leg trousers, pounds 75. Karen Millen, (01622 664032) have a chocolate brown s/b fitted jacket (two button) approx pounds 150 and matching straight leg trousers approx pounds 80.

I have some cami-vests with suspenders in slightly stretchy, knitted fabric which cling comfortably and evenly to the body without gripping. The styles vary but some have elastication just across the back for ease of getting on. The manufacturer was Laura Lee, who I'm told has now ceased production. I have searched everywhere for replacements but shops seem only to stock styles which (to me) are uncomfortably fitted with shaped bra tops (I don't own a bra either). I have tried a woven silk version of my usual style but the lack of "give" in the material makes it less comfortable. I am 5ft 7in, slim with broad shoulders. I would be willing to travel anywhere in the country to find suitable suspender-camis.

Carol Reid, Cheshire

Thank you for your very nice sketches, they made all the difference as I had never heard of suspender-camis. Unfortunately I have not been able to find any for you. Jill at Rigby & Peller said: "Lives and times have changed and there is no longer a demand for that type of undergarment. What people want now is fitted garments." Unfortunately, they wouldn't even be able to make you one. The nearest they have is a corset, which is boned. The Damart catalogue (01274 510000) has a few things which you might like to look at, but which aren't suspender-camis, such as the camisole on the first page - it has lace trimmed neckline and adjustable ribbon straps - pounds 17.99 (thermolactyl/silk mix) but not with suspenders attached. However they do a standard or higher waist length girdle with four suspenders (pounds 12.99) and also pantie girdles with four suspenders which could be worn with the camisole. Damart also do an all in one "corselet" (pounds 26 approx) which has adjustable straps but, alas, bustline support too. Fenwicks (branches nationwide) have a long stretchy slip with suspenders attached. It is underwired but not boned. It is made by Aubade and priced pounds 99 in antique gold or chocolate brown. Does anyone out there still make these things? Maybe a small shop somewhere? If so please get in touch.

This is not so much a fashion problem as one of availability and whereabouts. I am 64 years old, short and fat. Major surgery requires physiotherapy which includes swimming. Years of attempts at slimming have left me with an abdominal "flap" and I really need support in that region. Are there any manufacturers who make swimming costumes in large sizes which give some support/control? Many years ago Spinela and Spencer did some, but I haven't heard of either of these for some time. Budgetwise, I would not wish to spend more than pounds 50-75 and I shop in the Harrogate/York/Leeds areas. I do hope you can help. I am certain that I am not alone with this problem.

Judith Haffenden, N. Yorks

Fantasie is a great label that does all sorts of swimwear (and underwear) for "problem" sizes/figures (I hate that word but you know what I mean, they don't just do easy- peasy swimwear that every one else does, they tackle the problems normal people have too!). In their Classic Collection they have a selection of swimsuits with tummy control in sizes 36-44 B to E cup, approx price pounds 55. Stockist inquiries on 01536 760282. Triumph (01793 720330) have a range in their collection called "Charme" which provides abdominal support (due to lycra lining on tummy). These retail from pounds 35. The Bravissimo catalogue (0181 742 7292), has a classic swimsuit with internal support at pounds 35. I know you said you wanted something in your area, but a very useful contact is a lady called Margaret Ann (01985 840520) who works from home and can get all sorts of undies and swimwear in bigger sizes and that give support.

8 Yes, yes, I know that I said I would be on holiday. I really am going now, back on 3 November - when I shall start on the Big Shoe Directory business. Be patient.

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