Life and Style

First of all, a caveat: the clothes we see in 16th-century portraits aren't fashion. At least, not to our eyes. They're court costume – emphasis on the costume. It's difficult to reconcile the lavishly slashed, brocaded and jewel-bedecked gowns of lustrous Renaissance portraiture with our jeans-and-T-shirt culture, or even with the grander creations on the international catwalks.

Pandora: SAS showdown for portly parliamentarians

Ping! An arresting invitation lands in the email inboxes of our elected representatives. MPs are encouraged to undergo an SAS training course for a television series that involves "politicians competing against each other in an environment that will develop mental and physical strength".

Starkey dubs YouTube Queen an 'uneducated housewife'

The Queen has set up her own royal channel on YouTube, Buckingham Palace has announced. Her Christmas Day message will be posted on the popular video-sharing website for the first time as the 81-year-old sovereign, Britain's longest-lived monarch, embraces advances in technology. The new royal link features archive and recent footage of the Queen and other royals, with plans to add new clips regularly.

Last Night's TV: God save the Queen, she's a human being

Monarchy: The Royal Family At Work, BBC1; Help Me Love My Baby, Channel 4

Migrants to send £105bn back home to relatives this year

Migrant workers will send home a record amount of money this year, outstripping international aid contributions.

Bush heartened by Iranian response to offer

The United States and its allies expressed cautious optimism as they awaited Tehran's final response to the make-or-break offer of a deal to persuade Iran to end its uranium enrichment programme. Proposals were delivered at a two-hour meeting in the Iranian capital by Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, on behalf of France, Britain, Germany China, Russia, and the US - and drew a surprisingly measured initial response from the regime.

Spreckelsen hiring sweetens Thorntons

John von Spreckelsen, the former chairman of Somerfield who has a reputation for selling companies, has been parachuted in to Thorntons, the chocolate retailer that has recently lurched from profits warning to bid talks and back again.

Dexter Fletcher: My Life In Travel

'On Christmas Day in India we ate the most delicious roadside curry'

Richard II, Old Vic, London

A king with a PM's problems

Richard II, Old Vic, London

There's no virtue like necessity as Spacey gives an eloquent answers to his critics

Terence Morgan

1950s leading man and TV Sir Francis Drake

Inside Story: So, what exactly do you do all day?

Who works hardest in the media? Ed Caesar skips lunch to delve into the diaries of those working in TV, radio, press, PR, internet, magazines, marketing and advertising

Book Group: Ian Irvine reviews 'My Heart Is My Own'

A life, and death, of melodrama
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Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam