FASHION: DEAR ANNIE...

Please help. I have been invited to Cornwall for the Millennium festivities and I am looking for a pair of fleece trousers to keep me warm on all those bracing, hangover- shifting walks. Hawkshead had the perfect pair but has sold out. I am 5ft 2in and size 8-10 so men's trousers won't do. Ideally in blue or black.

Helen, Oxford

OK, I am your height and I found a perfect pair in the teenage department of Zara, but the only UK stockists are in London. If you do find yourself coming to London call the branch at 118 Regent Street (tel: 0171 534 9500). It does them in grey or navy, for pounds 17 (age 14 should be fine for you) but do ring first cos they sell out quick. Hennes childrenswear also has some that would fit, for pounds 9.99, but only in grey (tel 0171 323 2211).

Please help me find the one thing that I covet. I love the big fur coat look, the sort you see men wear in gangster films (but I am a woman). I suppose what I want is a shaggy fake coat, not fur, but infinitely more vulgar than the trimmed animal-print variety you see. Also, I don't want it to be animal print - no zebras or leopard. Do I need to go second hand?

V, North London

Um, the best I've found is in Wallis's W-Woman range. It is not completely full length but three-quarter and is very shaggy fake fur, in brown, and costs pounds 250. Sizes are 10-14 and if you ring 0800 9159901 you can find out the stockist nearest to you. If you do decide to go second hand then I recommend you go to Crazy Clothes in Ladbroke Grove (tel: 0171 221 3989) but allow plenty of time cos it's a bit of an Aladdin's Cave.

Twelve years ago I was plucked out of the rank and file of the Parachute Regiment and placed gently into the Merchant Ivory world of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. My Hugo Boss suit was punted into touch and a stroll down Jermyn Street took me from oily tick to sophisticated urbanite in 400 easy lessons. A Grenadier Guards Officer, Marcus Newton, introduced to me a style curiosity that has now tormented me for 12 years: he would take a handkerchief and thread it through the buttonhole of his lapel. Why? On my own initiative I have studied written pieces by Sir Hardy Amies and watched Stephen Fry's portrayal of Oscar Wilde. No source of potential enlightenment, however tenuous, has escaped my attention. Handkerchief through button hole? History, precedent, notable exponents, anything?

In hope, Shindi Poonia, Somerset

Just like an officer. You use 168 words when the last nine would have done perfectly well. And what a lot of showing off there is! Sandhurst, Guards, name-drop, name-drop, name-drop. The answer to your question is: negative. As I stand easy and go on-the-double to recce some foreign equipment, I break rank and realise that, eyes left for a salute, and... I haven't got a darn clue my lovely. Sorry!

I really want a "Posh Spice" dress, ie black and strapless and short, to wear on New Year's Eve. Can you please tell me where I can get one from?

Amy, aged 14, Kent

Yes, Next does one for pounds 49.99, sizes 8-20. Call 08702 435435 for your nearest stockist. But I'd hurry if I were you cos evening dresses are going fast.

Several weeks ago now (7 Nov) I published a letter from Lara who was looking for sheepskin mittens. Mandy Burgess wrote in to say that the definitive ones are made by Nursey and Son Ltd, Sheepskin Pond, 12 Upper Olland Street, Bungay, Suffolk (tel: 01986 892821). And she's right, they cost from only pounds 10 and Nursey (fab name, eh?) also does other fab sheepskin products - actually, I mentioned them last week with regards to slippers!

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