REAL LIFE: DEAR ANNIE...

Send your fashion problems to: Dear Annie, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, or fax them on: 0171 293 2043. E-mail: annie@independent.co.uk

I have tried for some years to find driving shoes. Please, do you know a stockist?

P Garner, Eye, Suffolk

It depends on what you mean by driving shoes. The real thing was (and still is) originally made by the Car Shoe Company in Italy. Its driving shoe was made for professional racing drivers just after the war. They were light and supple and their studded soles were perfect for gripping the slippery metal car pedals. In the Fifties, Gianni Agnelli, then chairman of the Fiat group, started wearing his out and about, and a trend was born. Connolly, purveyors of luxury leather and the people responsible for that sumptuous leather in all the best top-of-the-range cars, was determined to trace the original car shoe designers and get them to make Connolly's. Which is what happened. You can still get them but they cost pounds 195, sizes 37-45, and they come in a variety of suedes and leathers (tel: 0171 235 3883). Other people do variations on these but, if you want a really proper driving shoe, remember that cheaper ones will be mere fashion items. They are not readily available anyway, as the "trend" for driving shoes as a fashion item was a few years ago.

I have longed to write in for ages and at last I have a pant's query. What should one wear with hipster or low-waisted trousers? I am allergic to the VPL and usually wear G-strings, but I find the waist bands are too high and show an unflattering bit of elastic. Please help, I hate the idea of going au naturel.

Natalie, Bristol

Many brands do hipster pants but very few bothered to return my calls. This includes Marks & Spencer, who saw fit to magnificently ignore two messages. Oh well, their loss. No matter, because Sloggi does suitable pants for pounds 5 in its Midi range. They are absolutely plain, made in core- spun 95 per cent cotton/5 per cent Lycra (the cotton is spun round the Lycra thread, so it is the cotton that is next to the skin, thus making for a more comfortable pant). What I also like about Sloggi is that, unlike lots of underwear containing synthetic fibres which you can't generally wash above 50 degrees, you can wash their white stuff at up to 90 degrees. The range comes in lots of other colours as well, in sizes 10-20, and is available in most department stores. Call 01793 720232 for your nearest stockist.

As we have recently moved to a wonderful house opposite some beautiful but boggy National Trust land, I am looking for some new wellies. My problem is that I want brown wellies. I love brown - it is my "black". All my clothes are brown, even my waxed jacket. So green, black or blue wellies won't do. I have found two pairs of brown wellies, both by Hunter, but at pounds 130 and pounds 199 a pair (the latter lined with kid leather apparently), I'm afraid they are too expensive, even for a brown fetishist like me. Do you know where I can get a pair at a more reasonable price?

Helen, Hampshire

As you have seen, you only tend to get brown wellingtons when they are the leather or neoprene-lined ones. This is pure aesthetics, as there is no reason why wellingtons could not be made in brown rubber. I spoke to Hunter, makers of fine wellies, and they said that they did once do wellies in colours other than blue and green but there wasn't a market for them. I rang round a few places that I thought might have them, but blue or green was all there was in your price range. Sorry Helen, all I can say is that if you wear wellingtons a lot then it might be worth spending that much on them as they really are worth it - lined wellies are tons warmer. But I appreciate that pounds 130 plus is an awful lot of money. If anyone knows of a source of cheaper brown wellingtons then please let me know.

I am unable to work at the moment but I do like to smell nice! I can't afford expensive scent, so how can I keep fragrant on a tight budget? I prefer fresh lemony perfumes like CK1 and dislike cheap scent so much that I would rather go without.

PS: Is it still possible to buy those little books of soap leaves that I remember from my childhood? They would be so useful when out and about using public lavatories that never seem to have soap. I haven't seen them in the shops for years.

Lesley Bairstow, London SW3

I have to say that I find your letter a paradox. If you don't like cheap scent, how can you like CK1? I find it awful - synthetic, always smelling the same on everyone and just too common for words. If you're really short of money, why not visit perfume halls and drench yourself for free? I realise this isn't exactly handy but this way you can pick up free samples and get to know various perfumes with no commitment. However, a good, expensive perfume is the best value for money in the long run. I always wear Creed (one of the oldest perfume houses and perfumiers to the house of Napoleon, prices from pounds 39.50) or Jo Malone (pounds 29.50). They are worth every penny. Your nearest Creed stockist is either The Library at 268 Brompton Road or Dinny Hall at 54 Fulham Road SW3 (tel: 0171 630 9400 for further stockists) and Jo Malone is at 154 Walton Street, SW3 (mail order, tel: 0171 720 0202, p&p is extra). As for soap leaves, what a nice idea. I couldn't find them anywhere though, despite being sure I've seen them around quite recently. Postcards please!

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