FASHION PROBLEMS: DEAR ANNIE...
Sunday 02 May 1999
Margaret Hung, via-e-mail
How strange - this is the second time this week that I have been asked this question and whereas once I never gave it much thought, now I look at my "not-so-clean" clothes jostling for space with my clean ones and they seem to have a dirty "glow". My advice would be that if you intend to put things away for any length of time you should wash/dry-clean where possible. This is because stains, even those invisible to the naked eye, provide food for moth grubs. With casual, slightly worn clothes I must admit to using the Clarins Eau Dynamisante method - I hang them up and spray them with Clarins Eau Dynamisante. Don't do it on anything that the spray might stain but otherwise this method is perfect. (I've actually fished something out of the laundry basket that I've wanted to wear and revitalised it this way. Disgusting, I know, but jolly useful.) If you don't want to have clothes cleaned and you don't have the luxury of a separate drawer, the only thing you can do is segregate them like the dirty garments they are. Fold jumpers and place them in a zip-up garment bag (John Lewis, tel: 0171 629 7711; McCord, tel: 0870 908 7020) and cover items on hangers with (preferably cotton) hanging zip bags. My favourites are by the Holding Company (tel: 0171 610 9160; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) cos they do natural colour and navy (prices start at pounds 12.95 for a suit size).
I'm trying to replace my boyfriend's Kickers. They're trainer-style and black suede. Please help because his old ones keep shedding bits of foam and we're tired of picking up the pieces.
Sharon, I fear you may not be able to replace your boyfriend's Kickers exactly but call them on 0800 334440 for your nearest stockist and you should be able to find something similar. If you had said where you live I would have done this for you. If you live near London, pop into Harrods or Joseph and look at the Hogan range. They're similar but cost more than Kickers (from about pounds 90), but he might be worth it...
One of my favourite things is to sit and sunbathe, but a brace of largish babies and the subsequent passing of years suggests to me that it is classier to do this in a one-piece nowadays. I've had my swimming costume for nearly two decades and even I admit to its bagginess - but nowhere can I find a strapless cotton replacement which I'm confident will be reliably kept up by my 34" bust and yet be comfortably covered by my even smaller bank balance. Please help save my offspring from yet another summer's embarrassment.
Susie Burrows, Rutland
You are right about a one-piece being more flattering (and infinitely sexier) although I wouldn't recommend a strapless swimsuit, as I think they are quite unflattering and bothersome (one always worries they might fall down at any moment). First check out Racing Green's catalogue (tel: 0990 411111) - it does some of the best swimsuits at the cheaper end of the market, very simple from pounds 20 (plus p+p). If you'd really like a strapless one, give the fabulous Maureen Smyth of Splash Out a ring (tel: 01903 230861). Maureen makes swimsuits to measure and although a visit would be best (she lives in West Sussex), she can help you by post. If she already has a pattern made up for what you want it will cost (approx) pounds 35 for the swimsuit: if she has to make up a pattern from your original it will cost an extra pounds 20. She will put bones in the side to keep the swimsuit up and send you swatches of fabric to choose from. So you barely need to move from your armchair! What bliss.
It is my father's 65th birthday next month and the one fashion item he has always hankered after (well perhaps the hankering only started after middle age) is a smoking jacket. I made some brief enquiries at both Harrods and John Lewis a while ago but to no avail as, sadly, their prices went over my low budget which is pounds 70-pounds 100. I don't mind paying this much for a second-hand jacket as long as it is in good condition, but I don't know where to start looking.
Ever mindful of spoiling a surprise, I have taken your name off. Your best bet is to go for something vintage (ie second-hand) - this way you not only get something unique and lovely but much cheaper. There are loads of vintage shops you could try but I would start with Bertie Wooster (tel: 0171 352 5662) at 284 King's Road. Depending on condition and size you should pick up something really nice from pounds 95 which I know is at the upper end of what you wanted to spend. If you don't find what you like there try Cornucopia in Pimlico (tel: 0171 828 5752) or Steinberg and Tolkein on the King's Road (tel: 0171 376 3660).
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