dear annie

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Please can you tell me what happened to towelling bath robes? All I can find in the shops are towelling dressing gowns - far too long, the robe finishes just above the knee which is a more suitable for men.

P Evans, Putney, London

I see towelling bath robes all the time, Mr Evans. You must be a very fussy fellow. Yes you are, otherwise you wouldn't be reading my column. You would be reading some inferior imitators in some other publications. I think it is very important for men to show their knees - when I see a nice pair of male knees I can understand why men are so obsessed with female breasts. My husband has a particularly fine pair of genoux that I like to see at every opportunity. Anyhow, all the department stores do them so next time you're up Oxford Street pop in. If you want to shop from the comfort of your armchair, Empire do them also - in green, black, navy or burgundy and should you wish to, you can have it monogrammed - pounds 17.99; call 0345 200 400. Or buy any old one and lop off the hem.

Where have all the petticoats gone? The shops are full of pretty, short, flared chemises - no good under a shift dress because of the flares and far too short as they only reach mid-thigh. I know most skirts and many dresses come lined but I still prefer a petticoat between inner and outer wear. Some chain and department stores do have a few: black, white or cream - no lace, no fun. I can't afford the specialists like David Niper (standard 41in at pounds 67, 43in at pounds 69) and, although beautifully lacy, still only available in ivory. Does anyone still make pretty, coloured, lacey petticoats of a suitable length to go under any of the current skirt lengths - long or short? (PS As an 18/20 I cannot recommend Elvi too highly for 16 plus. However they would not suit the very petite length-wise, although they do not commit the usual sin of bigger manufacturers of giving larger women gorillas' arms.)

Mrs L J K Evans, Dumbreck, Glasgow

Thank you for the tip about Elvi, I am sure women everywhere who suffer from "gorilla arm syndrome" will breathe a sigh of relief. Anyone wishing to can contact Elvi on 01212 122332. You are right about petticoats, much to my surprise. Lots of pretty lacey ones at the more expensive end, but not so many at the other (where there are pretty lacey, coloured ones, but in the "chemise" length that you do not care for). What I have found, and it isn't much, is this: J D Williams do a pink, lace-topped one (97cm or 104cm long) in sizes 12-32, from pounds 11.99 (for pack of two); call 0161 236 9911. La Redoute catalogue do a few you might like in pink, lilac, yellow or pale blue. Have a look on page 375, prices start at pounds 11.50; call 0500 777 777.

Do you know where I can get 60cm square chiffon scarves? Liberty used to do them but doesn't any more, leaving me hanging on to some old ones which are like rags now.

M Taylor, Southampton

Fenwick branches will be stocking some in the spring, but they won't all be one colour (and you didn't specify colour so I was a bit in the dark) and prices will start at pounds 39; call 0171 629 9061. John Lewis branches have some 50cm ones by Calvin Klein, pounds 49; a 53cm print by Jonelle, pounds 7.95 and a 70cm print, pounds 12.50; call 0171 629 7711. Cornelia James have 50cm sheer patterned polyester scarves, pounds 8; call 0171 499 9423. Alternatively you could make your own, not that difficult, just buy the fabric (about pounds 10ish for a metre) and hem.

Rip-roaring replies to previous problems:

Re your article about "plimmies" (Dr Alex Scott Samuel, 5 Jan). Our chain of shops can still supply the black lace-ups up to size 11s (not 12s!). We used to bring them into the country in wooden crates back in the 1950s by the thousands. As you say, trainers have now taken over but we can still supply at approx pounds 3.99. (PS We used to sell them at 91/2 d.)

Tim Baldock, Baldocks Menswear, 1-3 Swan St, West Malling, Kent ME19 6LD; Tel: 01732 845292.

Thank you Timmy. Your shop sounds fab. And hope that helps you Dr Scott Samuel. Now then, about my recurring trouble... Miss Janet Pound rang in to give me the direct number for the manufacturers of Ugg Boots (12 Jan), although they are now called Celt Boots. The newly named Celt Boot Co does lots of styles, some of them with a hard sole, so call them on 01637 871605 for more info/nearest stockist.

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