Ready to wear: Dear annie

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Please can you help?! Having recently laid my sheepskin slippers to rest, I am at my wit's end to find a replacement. Could you suggest a pair that might be loyal, warm and fluffy, as cold winter nights draw near? PS: Should slippers look like their owners?

Ursula Ellen, Billericay

Well, there is a very cute pair in the Save the Children catalogue (26A- D, call 01283 506600); they are called Zippy Slippers with turn-over ankle cuffs and heart motifs (sizes 4-7, pounds 16.99). As for slippers looking like their owners, well that would be a bit difficult. I think it is more important for the owners to look after their slippers than look like them.

I am looking for: long velvet jackets; ornate silk waistcoats; tight- fitting non pleated velvet trousers (at a push these could be moleskin) in midnight blue/black/deep crimson. I have about pounds 500 to spend.

Angus, London

French Connection have a wonderful long velvet jacket, called the high- buttoning Edwardian 6-button jacket, it costs pounds 144 comes in black only (100 per cent cotton velvet) sizes M/L/XL. I'd also recommend a label called Favourbrook of Jermyn Street (tel: 0171-491 2337). They do ornate waistcoats, brocade and velvet jackets and all manner of opulent, dandyish things. They're not cheap (waistcoats start at around pounds 100) but they are beautiful and will last well. You can also trawl round markets, where you can pick up lovely stuff for very little; or second-hand shops such as Past Caring, 76 Essex Road, N1. As for velvet trousers, well that's not hard, but finding them flat-fronted is. Squire, who specialise in this style will be doing them next year, but for this season have them in moleskin, pounds 85, from their soon-to-open shop at 17 Clifford Street, W1 (call 0171-494 1880). They don't come in midnight blue (will navy do?) but they do come in black (they also come in camel and olive), sizes 30in- 36in. Jigsaw have done moleskin jean-style trousers in red, orange, navy or olive, pounds 59, sizes 28in-34in from their menswear branches (try 9/10 Floral Street, WC2, tel: 0171-240 5651).

What is the best way to get chewing gum out of clothes?

Arantxa, Sutton Coldfield

Freeze the garment, then the gum will just snap off. Incidentally, if you get chewing gum in hair then the trick is to work cocoa butter (available from chemists) into the hair and then wash as normal (it dissolves the chewing gum). Alternatively, mix butter with chocolate or cocoa powder (if necessary heat it up and then let it cool until it is still maleable but not hot) and then work the paste into the hair and wash. Thank you Wrigleys.

I have bought my girlfriend a slinky, strappy, backless dress. She is large breasted so must wear a bra, but all the ones she has show. I seem to remember that you've already given advice about this in your column.

Derek O'Carroll, Glasgow

The advice I have given before was for wearing a bra with cut-out shoulders, or a strappy dress without a low back. With a backless and strappy dress, things are a little more difficult. Really, I think you could have given more thought to your girlfriend's natural shape when making this otherwise generous offer. There is little alternative than for her to wear a basque with a very low back. Rigby & Peller in London do some fabulous ones for about pounds 60, but I know this is of little use to you. It is essential that the basque is well-fitting otherwise she may as well go without. It depends how low-backed the dress is but here are details of companies that have done various styles, one of which I hope will be of use. Just call the number for details of a stockist near you. Berlei (01525 850088), do a brilliant range called Answers. Try the Answers bustier which has detachable straps and a low-back, pounds 17.99, sizes 32-38ABCD, colours black, white and pearl; or the Answers basque which has a low back, same sizes and colours as the bustier but costs pounds 28.99. Warners do something called the backless, strapless bra which is actually more like a bustier, in their Allegra range. It costs pounds 35, sizes 34A-38C in white/ ivory/ black, call 01159 795796. Silhouette do two styles: U180, low back strapless bra, sizes 32A-38C, black, pearl, white, pounds 19; U185, low back basque, same colours and sizes, pounds 32, call 01295 275622