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Having asked around, I now know that most of the best-dressed women, whatever their size, recognise alteration as the key to true elegance. So I’ve found an expert alterations lady and dressmaker in London (Rashmi Makwana, tel: 07956 918865), who has myriad cunning ways to mould a piece to my body so that it looks almost bespoke. She might borrow an inch or two of material from the skirt to add some room around the bust, or move a zip, or cut away a neckline. Most designer shops have an in-house alteration service, but if you want to significantly alter the style of the piece, an independent seamstress is best. And I have discovered that the best way to fake statuesque elegance is with shoulder pads. John Lewis sells super-cheap foam ones. They help rejig proportions

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