Karen Davis, Kent
I haven't seen Silent Witness so I'm a bit in the dark here - I don't know just what sort of collarless style you mean: Nehru, grandad, v-neck? But I can tell you that Austin Reed (0171 734 6789) do some very smart collarless jackets and shirts, such as a single-breasted pure silk jackets in sizes 6-18, pounds 169; ice blue, short sleeve, single-breasted linen/wool jacket same sizes, pounds 149; and a variety of shirts, starting from about pounds 39. I'm not sure where in Kent you live but if you call 0800 585479 they will be able to advise you on your nearest branch. Wealth of Nations (0171 371 5333) have a collarless shirt with rouleaux fastenings (it's called a Guayabera shirt) and it's what businessmen in Merida wear (because it's so hot there). If I'm completely off the mark you'll have to send me a sketch.
I am 50 and recently retired from a job where I always wore a uniform. Suddenly I don't know what to wear. The only clothes I wore, apart from my uniform, were smart things (for "dos") or really casual clothes for slobbing about. In my mind's eye I am still 20, but of course I'm not and the pear shape I had then has grown more exaggerated. I find myself thinking of clothes I wore in my late teens (the last time I really spent any time thinking about my wardrobe), which don't suit me now! I have lots of time on my hands and am happy to spend a fair amount on clothes, but am at a loss as to what to buy. What shapes would flatter a pear shape?
It will take you a while to adjust and find your natural style again. So I wouldn't recommend rushing out and buying lots of new clothes just yet. There is a temptation to wear tight bottoms and just a huge jumper all the time, and while this will hide your pear shape it doesn't give you much scope. The major mistake pear shapes make, I find, is when they wear suits: in order to avoid buying a huge size jacket, they wear the bottom half a touch too tight. This just accentuates the pear shape. What I would recommend are: dresses that flare out from the waist so that you can show off your top half and the flared skirt bottom hides your problem; buying contrasting jacket and skirt/ trousers: ie a black or darker colour bottom half (which is instantly more slimming) and a lighter jacket. This is if you can't buy "mix and match" suits. If you find matching jackets and skirts/trousers that you can buy in different sizes then this would be perfect for you. A slightly fuller skirt with a tucked-in blouse would also work well, but avoid too much pleating or gathering around the stomach if this is a problem area for you. When wearing trousers, go for a slightly flared leg. Nothing will accentuate your pear shape more than tight-all- the-way-down trousers: you need a bit of width at the bottom to balance out your hips. Also, go for tops and jumpers that are short and sit on the hips, but again are not too tight if the bottoms you are wearing are tight - once more this will simply accentuate things you don't want to. Buy a couple of things and see how you go.
I have been trying to find a stone to clean suede shoes with. I saw it being used in a Hobbs shoe shop and it worked miracles on suede shoes. I have also tried to get one at the local cobblers, John Lewis stores, and supermarkets but although they all say they have heard of it, no one seems to stock it. Please save my collection of suede shoes from being given to Oxfam and tell me where I can buy one!
Alison Glaister, London
The best way to clean suede is to hold your shoes over a steaming kettle and brush with a soft brush. If you have some bald patches you can lightly rub them with fine sandpaper. My mother always cleans black suede by holding it over a candle flame and brushing up the pile. I think the soot from the flame blackens the shoe so this is why you can't use it on lighter colour. I haven't found a suede stone, but I would imagine it works like a pumice stone to rub the suede, so between the steaming kettle and the sandpaper, you should have a cheap alternative. You might be interested in Pied a Terre's Suede Cleaning Sponge, which is a hard sponge and costs pounds 3. It is available from their branches and if you need to know where your nearest one is, call 0171 491 3857.Reuse content