If you're looking for something substantial in the lingerie line, the retailers featured here may be able to suggest one or two little items for the weak end
Here is a list of our favourite independent stockists of structured underwear:

Agent Provocateur, 6 Broadwick Street, London W1. Stockist of boudoir flights of fancy, from fluffy mules to hard-edged corsets.

Bellers, 193 Upper Street, Islington, London N1. Home of the old-fashioned, hook-sided, extra-support brocade-cotton corset.

Denners, High Street, Yeovil, Somerset. This store stocks old-style control- underwear by Supportu Supplewear.

Foundations, 96 Holburn Street, Aberdeen. Hook-sided corsets and control underwear from Triumph, Playtex and Charnos.

Goulds of Dorchester, 11-12 South Street, Dorchester. Playtex Secrets, from £18.99, smooth-line body toner briefs and hosiery.

June's, 4 Bullshead Passage, London EC3. Details on 0171-623 2615.

Lace, 10 Meadow Row, Buckingham. Berlei and Playtex basques and control briefs.

Rigby & Peller, 2 Hans Road, London SW3. Renowned corsetier of queens, etc.

Rose Lewis, Knightsbridge, London SW3. An old-fashioned store, where quality is the key and fitting is all-important.

Undies Unlimited, 4 Millar Court, Station Road, Kenilworth, Warwickshire. Berlei control briefs, £17.99; Triumph control Sloggi brief, £8.99; Fantasie, Vanity Fair, Playtex.

And here are some of our favourite items of designer underwear-as- outerwear:

Vivienne Westwood's provo-cative plunge corsets, padded knickers and derrire cage; Karl Lagerfeld's uni-bosom corsets (available at Haute Couture prices only ... and don't breathe out). Karl's shiny black vinyl corsets, designed to wear over your Chanel frock. Isaac Mizrahi's form- fitting girdles; Gianni Versace's black stretch satin lace-up girdle and stretch jersey corset; Dolce e Gabbana's black Lycra and mesh corset- style dress and black Lycra girdle-style panties ... or indeed any underwear by Dolce e Gabbana; items from Jean Colonna's 1950s-inspired mail order underwear range.

Then there is Calvin Klein, designer leader of the underwear market, who is still on a roll. After Kate Moss adorned every New York bus-side and telephone kiosk, Klein hasdecided a "real'' woman is right for his underwear line. Enter Christy Turlington, already familiar to Calvin (she was once under contract as his "girl" and remains the eternal face of Eternity, his fragrance). Turlington's womanly curves are now featured in Calvin's scanties.

News from the underwear world: Men have finally realised (New Men already knew) that most women do not want red lacy underwear (at least not for everyday use). The most commonly returned underwear is red, brought back on the grounds that women can't bear the shade.

The most popular colours for Valentine's Day gifts this year have been amber and sea green, according to industry giant Warners. It is too early to tell how many .will be returned and replaced with white or black.

Lovable has an idea - a bra with a continuous cup strap band which provides support and lift without wires. Worth a try.

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