The intelligent consumer: dear annie

I am a consultant working in Accident and Emergency medicine. As such, I have to appear smart, yet my medical practice can involve blood splashes and other body fluids. I detest suits, especially jackets, and work in a fairly warm environment. I tend to wear M&S black trousers and cheap, white, short-sleeve shirts and tie. I would be happy to lose the tie, but it is expected of me. It can get in the way when I'm stitching. Could you suggest a smart yet practical and washable solution to my problem.

Operating theatre "greens" as in ER are not available.

Dr Pleasedon'tusemyname, e-mail

Hello, everybody. Thank you for all your cards and good wishes. I was keen to get back into the swing of things as soon as possible and am fortunate that I am able to work from home, although it will be a few weeks before I am fully up to speed again. Anyway, when you've done this as many times as I have, it's no big deal. Plus, my husband is showing off and dandling the new baby (who is very pretty and has black hair like him) while I get on with urgent fashion problems - although who he thinks is going to feed the pigs, I don't know. Anyway, I was unsure if this letter was a "joke" letter, but acted in good faith (and yeah, yeah I did know about Prufrock - Dear Annie, 7 Sept- you must all think I am stupid, but what has the world come to if we can't have a good laugh, eh?). Short of wearing an apron or overalls, Doc, the like of which we see on car mechanics or Formula One racing drivers, I see no solution to your problem. Get a tie clip and wear your normal clobber. And isn't everything washable these days?

I am desperate to get my paws on some black knee-high boots for winter, which sounds deceptively simple. I want them preferably in leather, although suede would do, not over-clumpy but not too S&M either, and am willing to spend quite a lot on them if they fit - and there's the rub. I have really skinny calves and am quite tall - 5ft 8in - and all boots are hideously baggy on me. Please don't suggest elastic boots, because for the past two years I have had to wear my Robert Clergerie elastic ones as they are the only boots in the world that fit me, although I wouldn't mind stretch leather ones. I visit London quite often. Do models have any special samples made for them, incidentally? Their thin little legs always seem perfectly clad.

L Roberts, Penarth, nr Cardiff

Nothing wrong with a little S&M. And models' legs (ie their calves) aren't abnormally thin, you know, you'd be surprised. They certainly don't have boots made specially for them, oh no. Pied a Terre (0171 491 3857) have a great pair, though there isn't a store in Cardiff, but if you happen down to London go to their Bond Street store. This carries the posh end of their range and they have a black stretch suede pair called Vigour for pounds 310 and lots of others starting at pounds 139. Also something called "Snug" for pounds 139, which aren't stretch, in black leather. I bought a fantastic pair two years ago in Hobbs which are very slim fitting with an inside zip (I have fabulous calves) and everyone asks where they're from. I put this in because I feel very out of shape and it cheers me up to think of my nice slim calves. From the end of September, Russell & Bromley will be doing a black leather or suede, very tight boot with inside zip and elegant 2in heel, for pounds 155. But, again, there is no branch in Cardiff. I'm really sorry about this: I do try to get local stockists. But you can ring R&B on 0171 629 6903.

I recently went to see the Pet Shop Boys on their "Somewhere" tour at the Savoy Theatre. During the interval, the Pet Shop Boys changed. They started off the second half wearing blue outfits and a fantastic sort of trainers. As I was sitting quite close to the back, I could not see the make of the trainers. I would be ever so grateful if you could find out the make and a possible stockist for me.

Miss Mary Foster, East Sussex

Well I tried two avenues here. I contacted eminent author/respected journalist and general world authority on the PSB, Chris Heath for help. He never replied. Naughty Chris! But I let him off because I believe he was busy making soup for his girlfriend and travelling the world writing big articles. Then I contacted someone from their record label and they said, "They're from that shop in Neal Street, I think it's called Buffalo." And, indeed, there is a shop in London's Covent Garden called Buffalo that sells funky trainers. Their number is 0171 240 0605. So, Miss Mary, be ever so grateful, but you'll have to make a trip to London if you want to look like Neil or the other one from this fine British pop group.

Please help! Last May I had an operation on my right foot and, unfortunately, things have not gone as they should. I now have one foot one whole shoe size larger than the other! Throughout the (thankfully) hot summer, I have worn open sandals or canvas deck shoes, but now the weather is turning colder I would dearly like a "proper" pair of shoes. Do you know of any company that is likely to supply odd sizes as I am sure the cost of having a pair specially made is bound to be prohibitive. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Sandra E Randell, Kent

I had heard of places that could help, in the dim and distant past when I didn't write a fashion column and hence did not retain useful bits of info with the Velcro tenacity I do now. If anyone can help Sandra, drop me a line.

Galoshes info keeps coming in and as I guess it's useful for the coming months, here is another place that supply them: The Windrush Mill catalogue: call 01993 770456.

I know I'm a bit biased at the moment, but there's a fab new catalogue out of children's knitwear by Katie Mawson. Call 0171 326 1880 for a catalogue.

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