I should like your observations on the following: why does everyone in the fashion trade think that anyone who is a size 16 has no waist and frequently no legs? I am over 60 but like clothes with a waistline, not those tunic affairs, or trousers. I'd like to buy clothes that compliment my legs and waist. Can you help me with finding stockists in the Chester area? I'm far from well off but I am prepared to pay for just one smart outfit. Many thanks.

Mollie Green (Mrs), Chester

Oh Mollie, your letter could have been written by my mam, who is just like you. I shan't wax on about what suits you as you seem like a canny lass who knows. It's taken a while, but there are now many in the trade who've copped on to the fact that there are people who take a size 16 or over. I thought mail order might suit. Racing Green has ventured into it (0345 331177) and from its catalogue there are several things I think you'd like: Simone stretch trousers (which go up to size 18), pounds 49; Lisa short-sleeved top, pounds 23; gaberdine suit, jacket pounds 110, skirt, pounds 40, trousers, pounds 55. Racing Green carries mostly casual clothes, but it also does great twinsets and accessories. Kingshill (01494 890555) has some great designers in its catalogue. For a taster try the Paul Costelloe fine pink wool jacket, pounds 250, and skirt, pounds 109, which goes up to size 16. Coral silk jacket, pounds 361, and skirt, pounds 175. I could go on, but get the catalogue, it is excellent and, I think, right up your street. Designs by Nicole Farhi, Paddy Campbell, Amanda Wakeley and many others are also available from it. I requested a catalogue from Contemporary Classics (0500 10 20 20) several weeks ago, which still hasn't come, but it looks good so give them a try. Good luck and stay funky.

I have a very special birthday party to go to and have been given a beautiful long, languid English Eccentrics brown velvet dress. I'd like to wear a pair of brown velvet (or possibly suede) shoes with it, perhaps in a Louis or kitten heel. Where can I find some? I have size 40 feet and about pounds 75 to spend.

Judith Endell, London

Well, you've picked the wrong time of year for velvet. I rang everyone within your price range and no one had done any, if you'd had more time and more money you could have had some made, but this is now academic. What I did find is that Bertie does a brown, elegant mule for pounds 75 or a very soft camel leather correspondent shoe with a kitten heel for pounds 69. As an alternative Russell & Bromley stocks a beautiful satin ballet slipper for pounds 85.50. I was so worried about not being able to help you that I rang you to try to tell you what I had got so far. Luckily you'd managed to find the perfect pair from a friend. I am glad you sorted it out, 'cos I'm good, but I ain't Jesus.

I have two problems: I have a large bosom, a very small waist and the biggest bum in the world, honest! I look best in little agnes b t-shirts, which make my chest practically disappear and show off my waist, but then I can't walk out of a room without putting on a coat to cover my bum. What should I be wearing? Are hipsters right out? Why didn't Vivienne Westwood succeed in making bottoms fashionable?

Kate, London

I can't understand how little agnes b t-shirts make your chest practically disappear but it obviously works for you, so good. It is pointless me saying "go here and buy this" since I don't think this is the sort of advice you need. There are certain things that might work for you, and here are a selection. Firstly and most importantly, being confident about how you are is everything; before you sigh and say "I know that" you obviously aren't - yet. I went to Italy once and there was this woman with just about everything "wrong" with her. Her upper arms were just a touch too flabby, her clothes were just a bit too tight, her bra strap was showing and she was wearing these slipper things in the street and her bottom was enormous. On top of all this she had an apron on (as these Latin women tend to, you know), but by bosoms she was sexy. Normally I would have baulked (inwardly, silently) and thought "cor she hasn't got a clue". But she radiated something; she was attractive, really attractive, because she was totally confident. I have to admit that for days afterwards I tried to affect this nonchalant mode of dress. Even my husband said she was one of the sexiest women he had ever met (after me of course). But I digress. Cut-off cardigans are brilliant for you, if you don't have any, buy cheap ones and cut them off yourself, they should come to just below bust level. If I were you (and I'm not far off, believe me) I'd wear tight tops, long skirts (either slim fitting or flared) and belts at the waist. The old trick of tying a cardigan or something else around your waist is also a good camouflage trick (make sure it is made of thin material or else you will just bulk yourself out). Vivienne Westwood did, absolutely, make bottoms fashionable. There are few things sexier than a woman with an hour glass figure so how could she fail, but like all outre fashion things, that very exaggerated silhouette will be watered down and become more "acceptable" in seasons to come.

I am pregnant and am finding it harder and harder to find tights to fit me. I was by no means large before and am hardly huge now, but even extra large tights are getting snug on me. Does anyone do really big tights?

Mary Lonsdale, London

Yes, there are extra big tights around: Hue stocks a Queen-Sized pair for women with more to grab hold of, but that's not what you need. You need maternity tights, specially shaped to accommodate your bump. Hue also stocks these, from pounds 9.95, as does Mothercare, which has them in black, navy and natural, 10 to 70 denier, and costing between pounds 2 and pounds 3.50 a pack.

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