I am so embarrassed about my question, I am going to sign this letter with a pseudonym - my problem is sweat stains on clothes, which I simply cannot remove. I am not a particularly sweaty person, and I never wear things more than once before they are washed, and yet this problem seems insoluble. I never used to find this a problem and I am wondering whether it is the deodorants I use which are the source of the difficulty. It seems worst with pure silk and fine polyester fabrics. I would be so grateful for your advice on: which deodorant to use to avoid the problem; which washing powder or stain remover might help (currently I am using Vanish spray and Bold washing powder). Thank you so much.

Elsie, Harlow

Don't be embarrassed Elsie, we all sweat. Now then, what we need to do is work out if the stains are actually from your sweat or from your deodorant. Tania rang Proctor and Gamble for you, they make lots of washing stuff (don't know if they do Bold, but who cares eh?) and their official recommendation for deodorant stains, is to apply a liquid detergent and soak first, if fabric is suitable. If it's a sweat stain, then the first step (maybe obvious, sorry) is to make sure you use an anti-perspirant deodorant (actually, it's difficult to find any other kind). It may be that the silk/polyester absorb the sweat easier and stain more because the fabric tends to be thinner and more delicate. I was going to suggest soaking the affected area in clear vinegar, which is great for removing all stains, but I haven't tried this yet, so proceed with caution. I'll ask my mum when I next visit (probably as you're reading this I'll be there eating her yummy lasagna) and anyone else with any advice, please write in or e-mail. Yo. Surf.

These sandals (picture enclosed) are absolutely what I long for. My local stores never seem to stock those with the toe grip. Can you please let me know where they are available and the cost?

Rosemary Block, Rochester

The sandals shown in the picture you sent me are by Ralph Lauren (0171 491 4967). They come in brown only and have a wedge heel. They cost pounds 250 and are only sold in Ralph's shop in London's New Bond Street and Harrods (0171 730 1234) and both have waiting lists for them (so you evidently have good taste). Tania found out lots more stuff for you. (Come back Tania, I miss you, and the sports desk miss your legs!) Many of the sandals are reserved already, but people don't always take them. At Ralphie's shop, two have been ordered in sizes 37.5, 38 and 40 and they have all been held by customers, but there's one free pair in size 38.5. Of course, all this will have changed by the time you read this, but the point, as Tania pointed out, "It's going to be a close race to get a pair of these babies, especially as neither store are going to reorder." Charles David for Bertie's do a similar but flatter version, with an approx one-inch sole, for pounds 65, which comes in black, brown and white (sizes 3 to 8). They supply House of Fraser stores everywhere and Bertie's enquiry number is 0171 935 2002. Good luck.

My problem - I want some cotton pants (Lycra etc plays havoc with my nether regions) that don't leave a VPL, that aren't too expensive, are available in my area, can be hot (not boiled) washed and that keep me warm and comfortable.

Annie Lester, High Wycombe

Miss Fairgreave wrote in regarding underwear that had no rubber elastic in it and her suggestion for that may also help you. Natural Collections (0171 836 5678) do a mail-order catalogue full of unbleached natural cotton things, including two kinds of knickers, the standard ones, in S,M & L, pounds 3 a pair, and a "pointelle" brief, which is more bikini cut than its "comfortable fit" counterpart, pounds 4.95 a pair, and also comes in cream. They are sending you their catalogue, should arrive by the 10th-ish. All Marks and Sparks underwear contains elastic/elastane, but otherwise they do do a high cotton-content range including, to deal with the VPL problem, a "seam-free" range. The high-leg knickers retail at pounds 5 (also includes invisible bra, pounds 11, and vest, pounds 10). They suggested thongs in 100 per cent cotton - the obvious solution but you (and I) may find them uncomfortable - and their "big knicker" range, which is proving immensely popular and comes in a variety of styles starting at pounds 4. Playtex do a range called Cherish with two possible solutions, the thong (as aforementioned) in S-L for pounds 5, and the maxi in S-XL for pounds 5.50. All are 94 per cent cotton, six per cent Lycra, only in white, available at department stores, (enquiries: 01483 291450). John Smedley do 100 per cent Sea Island cotton (yummy) briefs for ladies, S-L, in two normal, high-cut legs at pounds 24 a pair. Main stockist Sogo In Piccadilly. Also mail order, on 01629 534331 (for all Smedley gear).

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