FASHION: DEAR ANNIE...

I have just spent several hours traipsing up and down Oxford Street in London in search of a T-shirt body but no one seems to do them anymore - not even Marks & Sparks! Is it because it's summer, or am I horribly passe? The only bodies I found were in lingerie departments and they looked too much like lingerie and had all sorts of girlie properties, which are useless to me as I'm pregnant. Can you help?

Kate, Stoke Newington, London

PS: In case your pregnant readers have not yet discovered them, can I recommend Mothercare's High Leg maternity knickers, three for a tenner. They are cut to sit under your bump. They are fantastically comfortable and don't make you feel like you've got your mother's pants on!

Thanks for that and of course you're not horribly passe, it's just that retailers have been too busy giving us floral shirts and sling-bags to concentrate on the basics. Levante does a vest-top body called Envy which costs pounds 25 and comes in either black or white, up to a size 16, available from John Lewis (tel: 0171 629 7711 ). It is made of polyamide (the European name for nylon) and elastane. It also does a a seam-free short-sleeve T-shirt style, called Allure, which costs pounds 29.75 and is made of 94 per cent cotton and 6 per cent elastane. Companies like Wolford and Christian Dior do bodies all the time (you'll find them in the hosiery section of major department stores) and they are lovely, but what I consider to be way too expensive - around the pounds 80 and upwards mark. Falke has just launched a T-shirt body that looks like a T-shirt (there's a false hem) - it's available in black, cream and grey, sizes S,M,L, for pounds 59, from Fenwicks (tel: 0171 629 9161).

Can you help with hatboxes? My daughter is about to move to the US to work and needs a strong hatbox in which to transport her large-brimmed hats.

Caroline, Reigate, Surrey

For your daughter to buy a really strong hatbox that can survive the luggage handlers, she will need to spend quite a bit per box. I don't recommend this unless she plans to travel the world frequently with her hats. Far better for her to put all of them in one hard-sided suitcase, and pad them out with tissue paper. At least she can then use the suitcase for other things as well. It will also be easier to carry than lots of boxes. This is how the milliners I know carry their hats to and from appointments. Hatboxes, lovely though they are, seldom really appear outside of Forties' movies. But while I'm on the subject, anyone looking for flimsier hatboxes, for say storage, can get them from the award-winning hat boy, Philip Treacy. Made from cardboard, they cost pounds 10 and pounds 15 (tel: 0171 259 9605). Harrod's also does some (tel: 0171 730 1234) for about the tenner mark - in fact you can find them in lots of department stores, usually near the haberdashery.

My five-year-old daughter seems to be allergic to the elastic used in underwear and swimming costumes. After wearing them for a short time (less than half an hour), she develops angry red marks where the elastic touches her. Until now we have managed by using traditional PE knickers (which have cotton binding around the leg holes) as underwear and for trips to the pool and beach. Occasionally we have tried a swimming costume again to see if the allergy has faded, but are always disappointed. This summer we had to abandon a particularly snazzy pink one with rainbow-coloured polka dots. My daughter is due to start swimming lessons soon and would be thrilled if she could have a "proper" swimming costume like all her friends. Please can you help?

Michelle Olivier, Manchester

I must apologise for having taken so long to reply to your heart-rending letter. You must have thought me so uninterested in dealing with what is a real problem for your little girl. But the real reason is more prosaic, one of my children (and of course each is blaming the other or maybe it was all of them) took a whole sheaf of letters and stuffed them down the back of the sofa and because I don't clean behind there every week, I have only just discovered them. (Of course I realise this is a protest of some sort on their part, but I think a diet of spaghetti hoops for a couple of weeks will sort that out.) There is no clear-cut answer to your problem, which is becoming increasingly widespread as we all pollute ourselves into oblivion. First, you should ring the British Allergy Foundation (tel: 0181 303 8525). It will put you in touch with some people from the latex support group (I have some numbers but can't print them as they belong to individuals). Also, have you heard of Greenfibres (tel: 018103 868001)? It makes organic cotton knickers that do contain elastic but no elastic actually touches the skin. Greenfibres is also very helpful and used to dealing with people with allergies so it is well worth getting in touch with them. Also try The Natural Collection (tel: 01225 442288) which makes all sorts of organic clothes, although I must say that "natural" is not necessarily less allergy-inducing as some poor folk are allergic to even the most planet-friendly cloth. One thing you have probably already tried but I'll mention it nonetheless. If you look for knickers that are more old-fashioned in their styling, without stitched-in elastic, you can remove the elastic quite easily and thread through a cotton drawstring for your daughter to tie (probably better when she's a little older!) Finally, the splendiferous Maureen Smyth of the swimwear made-to-order company Splash Out (tel: 01903 230861) says she may be able to help by making your little girl something to swim in that doesn't involve elastic, so give her a ring.

By the way, N Turner who wrote in on a little card illustrated with an elephant, requesting a dressmaker's directory. Thank you for the stamps but you did not include your address. Please write in again and I'll get one in the post to you.

Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Sport
Jose Mourinho restrains his assistant manager Rui Faria, Fabio Borini celebrates his winning penalty and Connor Wickham equalises for Sunderland
sportChelsea 1 Sunderland 2: Deafeat is extra bitter as former Chelsea player Fabio Borini scores late penalty to seal victory
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Apprentice IT Technician

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

    1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

    £153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

    1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

    Sales Associate Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit