dear annie

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I am 30 years old, 5ft 7ins, and my statistics are 36-28-35. My legs are quite long, which means that as well as being thick- waisted I am short-bodied. What can I wear to disguise this awful middle of mine, as no amount of exercise seems to help? PS: I have awful problems with evening wear.

Juliette Wills, Devon

Your middle is not awful in the slightest. The supposed "ideal" statistics are having bust and hip measurements that arethe same and a waist 10ins smaller, (ie 36, 26, 36) so yours are just a few inches off being bloody perfect. But anyway, you see this as a problem. What not to wear are things like baggy jumpers which obviously have their purpose, and I'll bet you have been wearing a fair few of these in order to disguise that middle of yours. Don't. Wear lots of fitted jackets. Get any old cardigans and chop them off to just under bosom level. This defines your waist and makes your body look longer. Belts also highlight the waist. Evening wear? Get your legs out, wear shimmering sheer tights, a miniskirt or hotpants, fluff your cleavage up and forget about your waist. Your admirers will find it for you, as they snake their hopeful arms around it.

I'd like to buy a satin shirt, but don't have a lot to spend. Who has done some good ones and what should I look for?

Carolanne, London

Everyone. I guarantee you can go into any high street shop and find a satin shirt. The thing to remember with cheaper satin is that the darker the colour, the more sins it hides. Look for a fairly thin satin as this will hang better, and good stitching, and also make sure it hasn't "pulled". With some cheap synthetic satins the threads pull very easily and after it is worn a few times this will look awful. Satin shirts should really be fitted for a modern look and double cuffs are nice, as you can do a lot with them. Expect to pay about pounds 25 for a high street version. I appreciate that you don't have a great deal to spend, but a satin shirt will last several seasons, so if you can afford a bit more it will be money well spent.

I have a very annoying problem. All my tights give at the seams, even when they are worn for the first time! I am 5ft 5ins with my widest point (at the top of my thighs) approx 41ins. I weigh just under 10 stone and normally I wear size 14 skirts. I have tried nail varnish on a new tear, but it makes it worse. What would you suggest?

Helen, London

I am not sure what you mean by "they give at the seams", as most tights do not have seams other than around the top. Is this where they give? First, look for tights with Lycra in them. This fibre has "stretch and recover" qualities, and DuPont, the manufacturers, insist that any hosiery including Lycra meets various criteria, such as having a gusset. Are you sure you are buying tights that are big enough for you? I always find that large is best, as you don't have to pull on them so much. Nail varnish should work: you need to apply it to the bottom and top of a new tear, although this is only a temporary measure. I wear mostly Wolford, as I think the quality is superb, especially the opaques, some of which I've had for years. Fogal in New Bond Street makes very expensive but very good hosiery, the assistants are also most knowledgeable and will be able to advise you further.

Has anyone done knee-boots that would fit me? I am a size 8 AA, and don't have a great deal to spend.

A Thomson (Mrs), Cumbria

You can get a Footwear for Special Needs directory from the British Footwear Manufacturers Federation, 5 Portland Place, London W1N 3AA, tel: 0171- 580 8687. It costs pounds 2.50 and your cheque should be made payable to the federation (or BFMF for short). It lists manufacturers and shops that specialise in large, small or special-needs footwear. K Shoes in Kendal, tel: 01539 724343, makes women's shoes in size 8AA and prices start from pounds 29.99. There are plenty of others, so do invest in the BFMF booklet.

Who does a black nursing bra? My baby is due at the end of January and I always wear black underwear; why are there only white ones?

Yolanda, Peterborough

I wish I knew, I was so incensed when I was breast feeding at not being able to find black bras, as they are few and far between. Blooming Marvellous does one - style 1604 in sizes 34-40 BCD, in 95 per cent cotton/ 5 per cent elastane, at pounds 17.99. Tel 0181-391 0338.