Ready to wear: Dear Annie

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Recently I lost all my hair due to chemotherapy, but I still wish to look nice - both indoors and out. I can only bear to wear a wig for a short while and, at 43, turbans make me look too matronly. Square scarves are fun, but I can only find polyester ones in the shops and they slide off too easily. Any ideas? Please don't ask me to go bald disgracefully - it frightens my son. Thank you.

Ruth Burrows, Bristol

I wouldn't dream of telling you to go bald, even though I think it can look beautiful. I can't imagine how I'd feel if I lost my hair, even temporarily, but I can try to understand what a blow it must be to a woman's self-confidence. I don't want your son to be frightened, either! I turned to the Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund who spoke to two specialist nurses in this field on my behalf. Obviously they deal with problems such as these every day; they suggested using cotton scarves, as these don't slip as much as polyester. (My hint would also be that crepey fabric - either silk or synthetic would be less slippery, as the surface isn't as smooth.) They also suggested getting a stretchy alice band and sewing your scarf to it, ie: fold the material over the band to cover it, don't sew it all the way round, slip it on to your head, and then tie the scarf at the back of your neck. Remember you can also use lengths of material which you just need to hem; I know it's a pain sewing, but this will give you so much more choice. You might also like to experiment with light cotton hats as spring comes, but I appreciate that you may feel a little silly wearing these indoors. I know you don't like the idea of turbans or wigs, but for the sake of others in this predicament who would like to try them, Macmillan also told me about two companies, both of whom have considerable expertise in dealing with people who have lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy: Lizannes (01323 766894) make turbans, which they sell for pounds 1.50. Then there is also Natural Image Wigs, who supply to department stores; they also make turbans (towelling pounds 7; polyester pounds 8 in various colours), to find out details of stockists and mail order call them on 0171 403 2440. I really hope this helps and I wish you a full and speedy recovery.

Is it true that keeping your jumpers in the fridge will stop angora from shedding? I am particularly interested because I have just had a lovely late Christmas present twin-set. It's caramel coloured, and all my black skirts and trousers are now black and caramel. Apart from this, I wear contact lenses, and all the fibres are a complete nightmare on the eyes. If the fridge is not the answer, what is? (I hope you do have an alternative, because my fridge is minuscule, and if cold temperatures are essential it may come to a choice between wearing my twin-set and eating.)

Hester, Wimbledon

I do sympathise. I was given a beautiful cashmere boucle man's sweater from Joseph for Christmas and it sheds everywhere. No scope for being unfaithful, I'd leave my trail everywhere - which is a shame as it's so cosy. (In fact when I was ill recently and wrapped up at home in said jumper, Joseph's lovely PR, Sarah rang me at home to see how I was and coined the wonderful phrase: "Illness is always a bit better in a Joseph jumper.") I spoke to knitwear designer Rina Da Prato who said that keeping jumpers in the fridge does stop them shedding, but you would have to keep returning them to the fridge to retain the effect (in an ideal world our jumper cupboards would be chilled, but this isn't an ideal world). We don't really know why, though. Rina also suggests using Woolite when washing, and squeezing the jumper instead of wringing as this keeps the fibres from matting; then give it a light brush when dry. Unfortunately, there isn't a long-term solution (someone else suggested trying hairspray); there's obviously a great marketing opportunity here. Remember the best way to defluff your other clothes is to use parcel tape; boring I know, but better than looking like you have been rolling in a sheep's pen. You shouldn't have to make a choice between food and fibre - chill your jumpers overnight when, just maybe, your fridge is less full.

I am constantly losing one half of sets of earrings, and so have a box full of single earrings which I can't use, but am fond of. Do you know of a jewellery maker who is willing to copy earrings exactly, and if so, how much is it likely to cost (they are not expensive jewels; for example I have lost one of a marcasite pair, and another is moss agate and gold)?

Diana, Notting Hill

This is a problem that a lot of people have, but I have to point out that copying any style of earring, even something cheap and mass-produced, is illegal. Having said this, your local jeweller will most probably be able to help you - you just need to pop in and ask. If you buy your earrings from a jeweller-designer, however (and this doesn't necessarily mean expensive), they will almost always be able to make the lost earring again, as it's their design to do with what they will. If you remember where you got them from, it really is worth trying to trace the manufacturer and asking them; otherwise your local jeweller is your best bet. During the First World War it became popular to wear just one earring, as women had keepsakes (such as buttons) made into a single earring to remind them of their menfolk at war; this is where the fashion for just one earring (a la Human League) stemmed from.