Real clothes: DEAR ANNIE...

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Indy Lifestyle Online
In a recent splurge, I bought a jacket and a bag made of nappa leather. They look and feel wonderful but I hardly dare let them out of the house because one of the sales people gave me the impression that a drop of rain can cause nappa to "blister" and the other said "most" leather care products can damage nappa. How shall I get my money's worth out of my lovely things? I will do anything within reason to give them a long and happy life but I want to use them too.

Anna Statham, London

They told you all that and you still bought them? They must have been really wonderful. I consulted Bill Amberg, leather supremo, who makes jolly nice bags including a very nice weekend bag which I have wanted for the longest time but can never afford. (It's about pounds 700 but really lovely, the sort of bag that makes you think you've made it in life, sniff.) He had this to say: "Nappa leather is a soft tannage of sheepskin made mainly for the garment trade. All leather is different, so it is difficult to predict its reaction to water, but outdoor wear should have been expected, and it is unlikely to blister. A leather protection such as Scotchguard is a good idea, although it will slightly change the feel of the leather as it applies a thin silicone coating to the surface. It will, however, protect the leather from water. If the jacket and bag do get wet, they should be air dried, away from any source of heat." Don't you go blaming us though if it all goes wrong; complain to the people who sold you what amounts to a white elephant if you can't wear them out of the house.

I've plucked up the courage to write to you and at the same time admit to the world that I am an unashamed fan of male nightshirts. I have a dwindling number but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a retailer who sells them at a reasonable price! Good old M&S did some a few years ago but not for some time. Can you help?

Bob Booker, Alton, Hampshire

My very first boyfriend came from Alton (Upper Grove Road); indeed his father still lives there. Hello John! Me and my then boyfriend would buy the most fantastic chips from the chippie at the end of Upper Grove Road which I think were drenched in gravy. You needed courage to write to me, Bob? Why, for goodness sake? I can be quite nice. Now then, nightshirts. I'm not 100 per cent certain of what you take to mean "a reasonable price" but I am going to suggest what I perceive to be nightshirts of good quality that are well priced. First of all, Higginbotham (tel: 01379 668833) make lovely crisp nightshirts, with or without collars, in pure cotton stripes. The only reason they won't be suitable for you is if you are really tiny, because their sizes can be quite big. Prices are either pounds 45 or pounds 48 and they do mail order so you can call for a catalogue, have a look and order if you like. Next, Bonsoir by post (tel: 0171 439 2101, open 9am to 10.30pm daily). They make smooth cotton ones in the summer and brushed cotton ones in the winter. Prices start from pounds 42. If, once you've got both these catalogues and neither of these suit, then please don't be afraid to get back in touch Bob, okay?

I got some pollen on my white T-shirt. I tried to brush it off but that didn't work and despite several washes it won't come out. Will it ever?

Kate Shelton, Birmingham

Unlikely. You could try bleach, which is the only thing that might get it out. What you should have done is lifted the pollen off with sticky tape. Brushing it just drives it deeper into the fabric. Don't worry: it was a lesson well learnt on what I hope wasn't a highly expensive/precious garment.

I greatly enjoy your useful column and try never to miss reading it, but I must take issue with you on the subject of packing clothes in tissue paper etc versus the rolling method (11 July). Since the early Sixties I have travelled abroad extensively. At first I used to fold carefully, using tissue paper in the prescribed manner. I then discovered rolling. Since that time I have never looked back and for 30-plus years I have rolled just about everything, except perhaps jackets. Yes, clothes may crease a little but somehow the creases are much softer and fall out easily.

Margaret Lambert, Oldham

Margaret, Margaret. What can I say? Sometimes I get it wrong maybe, but rolling just never worked for me. But readers, give it another go. Thanks for your letter.

Annie, help! I just bought a pashmina last month only to be told they are now out. Is this true?

Miranda, London

Yes. So, I'll buy it off you for a pony.

A while ago, while attending an exhibition I bought a manicure set - American I think - which in place of the usual nail file of metal had a file shaped like a pencil made of some carborundum material. It was the best nail file I have ever possessed but, unfortunately, it was stolen. Since then I have tried to find a replacement both in this country and in America but to no avail. Can you help?

K Kidd (Mrs), Shropshire

Hmm. I've tried all my usual places: Mr Mascara, Screen Face, Beautique, to name but three. I have found something that is shaped just like a pencil but it is made of pumice stone and used for removing cuticle growth. So I'll mention it to a) show that I know something and b) it just might be of interest to other readers. It costs pounds 6.55; for stockists call: 0181 868 3400. Also, I tried my West Coast American Dear Annie stringer Laurie and she rang her local "Beauty Store" (apparently a chain of massive beauty emporiums) and the lady she spoke to had worked in this field for 26 years and had never heard of such a thing. "Maybe," she said, "your lady's one was a novelty item." I'm not saying that such a thing does not exist Mrs K, just that I do not know where to find it.