To the wonderment of my various flatmates, over the years I have always ensured that I rise early enough to enjoy breakfast at the table whilst perusing the newspaper. I feel this activity must be undertaken in my nightclothes and dressing gown. My present faithful dressing gown is now sadly disintegrating so I am seeking another. I've admired some that have recently appeared in period dramas on TV which look to be made of a heavy damask, often in warm golds, deep oranges or reds. I should wish one with pockets and preferably close fitting sleeves - in case I dip into the marmalade. Having recently left university I can't spend a fortune. I would be most grateful of any assistance you could provide me with.

Jane Brodes-Burnett, Port of Menteith, by Stirling, Scotland

Blimey love, you have been at the period dramas rather a trifle ain't you? Well I have found some posh ones but they aren't exactly on your doorstep and they are rather pricey. Mulberry does a very lovely one: silk and cotton damask in a "Muscat Grapes" weave and it has a gorgeous velvet lining. It comes in champagne, oyster, plum, red, black, green and midnight blue. But it costs pounds 695, sizes s/m/l (those are unisex sizes so a smaller one would be better for you I would have thought). It can be ordered by mail (tel: 0171 491 4323) if you are interested. A much cheaper alternative is to call the lovely Wardrobe - its "partner" company First Call (which I mentioned a few weeks ago) did the "Noel Coward" dressing gown in Goodnight Sweetheart. It has vintage ones, so obviously the style and pattern varies, but Clive who co-owns Wardrobe says they cost pounds 75- pounds 80 which I think is a bit of a bargain. The bad news is that Wardrobe is in Brighton; the good news is that if you ring Clive (tel: 01273 202201) - he will try to sort you out by post. Obviously this option is not as ideal as seeing the item yourself, so if anyone out there has any nearer- to-Jane alternatives, do please write in.

I would like to buy a tartan tie for a friend of mine who has a right to the plaid. The trouble is I don't want a woolly one but one with a smooth, silky finish. To make matters worse, the tartan in question is not one of the most common ones. As I intend a surprise, may I have a nom de couture if you print this letter?

Mr David Silks, Leicester

A nom de couture is yours David, do you like it? I have no idea what sort of tartan your friend has a right to wear. All I can tell you is that Tie Rack, a shop I go into rarely, has lots of different types of smooth silk tartan ties. They cost pounds 17.50 and you'll find them in the "Premium Cutting Edge of Fashion" section, so maybe they know something we don't. They're of the flared variety, rather than skinny (tel: 0181 230 2333 for details of your nearest store). But you may have to suffer the "woolly" variety in order to get the tartan you want, in which case try Dressed By Scotland, (tel: 0131 467 7508; email:; website: It has tartan ties which cost pounds 7- pounds 11 and can supply tartan fabric for making up yourself, plus it can do "clan" ties - telephone for more details.

There was a large person in your column a while ago trying to find a leather jacket made-to-measure. So faster than the speeding bullet, here is my suggestion. I have a much-loved jacket that was made for me by Mary Whitaker (tel: 0181 878 5453). I'm not very big but I know that she will make it whatever size you want. I have bought four jackets in total now, two for me and two for loved ones who adore them. Mine are exceptionally cool and theirs are exceptionally snuggly (lined with baby lambs' fleeces which make even normal fleeces seem cold and hard and scratchy). I read your column with a sense of relief every week to know that there are people in the real world who don't seem to go for lime green when it's the new black. Sorry, my lime green phobia slipped out.

Richard Wood, Chester

Thanks for that Richard, and I don't know how to break this to you but, green - if not lime green - is the cool new colour for autumn/winter. Brace yourself.

Regarding the question on 11 July, regarding a brand of suncream. I do hope you're not being used for a bit of an advertorial. Your correspondent's question seemed to include the whole sales pitch, complete with the full name of the manufacturer. And she knows who made it and the product is stocked in many places, so either she didn't try very hard to find it or she wanted to ease her sales pitch into your column. I respect your ability to find things out and to provide unbiased (though not disinterested) recommendations and I'd hate to see the hard-won reputation of your column undermined. Anyway, all credit to you for pointing out that the sales pitch probably isn't true. Keep up the good work.

Clive Vaisey, London

Clive you love. I have taken all mention of The Product out of your letter, as you can see, to avoid any further distress. Now then, of course, I worry that people try to pass off useful info as hard-sell nonsense and I care very much about this because my advice is totally independent and not tied to any product, manufacturer or advertising. But I have to weigh up the benefits of informing my readers of something useful (see Richard's letter above) with the slight - and I like to think it is no more than that - risk that someone, somewhere is doing a naughty. Because, trust me, no one wants to get on my wrong side. Especially not at the moment.

Further to Bridget H Poore's letter of 8 August regarding waterproof skirts, Tess Lobo of London and Charlotte Crew of lovely Devon both wrote in to tell me that such a beast does exist because lady bowls players wear them (they are, I am reliably informed, expected to play in all weathers). Tess has seen them in Arnold's Leisure on the Broadway in Ealing, London (tel: 0181 840 7383) - I rang and they only come in white and cost pounds 10. Charlotte says she's also seen them in Devon, so Bridget, get ye to your local sports shops and ask for waterproof bowling skirts. Thank you to Tess and Charlotte for writing in.