Where in Hong Kong can I find good-quality, simple, all-cotton tees with a boat neck and three-quarter-length sleeves?
Out to Sea, Happy Valley

The Dictator rules: "That's so stupid!" is the derisive response smug readers will no doubt be uttering. Ignore them. That's what I usually do. The same smug critics usually flounder when they realise I make this look good. Sure, The Gap might seem like the obvious answer, because it has them in pink, burgundy or blue stripes, and solid white, navy or brown at an affordable price of HK$179 each. But so would many other retailers, several of which I visited and found they don't carry boat-neck tees with three-quarter-length sleeves. Now, I'm going to make you look good. First stop Kapok (3 Sun Street, Wan Chai), for classic Breton T-shirts by French label Saint James (HK$720 to HK$780), with varying combinations of boat- or wide round necks, three-quarter-length sleeves, all striped, naturellement, in white or cream with blue or red. Let's stay in France for the moment, because Parisian label Majestic Filatures does a lightweight, flax linen tee that fits all your requirements (HK$950; Rue Madame, Lee Gardens 2, Causeway Bay). H&M, too, has the style you seek (HK$129 and up), but you'll have to trawl through every section of the store because it stocks so many lines. We're quite taken with the solid black, white or beige versions with contrast piping. Detractors, you're welcome.


My favourite Hunters finally gave up the ghost and, in a rash move, I bought some attractive yet cheap replacements. Once home I became aware of a strong chemical smell. How do I get rid of it?
Smelly Welly, The Peak

The Dictator: Forget the smell, what about your health? I've read about phthalates, cadmium, dioxins and lead in cheap plastic boots and rain gear. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, in particular, can be toxic, emitting chemicals related to cancer, compromised immune systems and so on. Thanks for going cheap and supporting an industry that hurts the whole world. Now, let's make your pretty boots smell less carcinogenic. Stage one, wash them inside and out with water plus any or all of the following, which are available at ParknShop: Earth Choice Dishwash Liquid (HK$31.50), Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (HK$11.50), and/or Select White Vinegar (HK$10.50). Phase two, try filling the boots with old newspapers or, believe it or not, kitty litter (fresh, obviously). Phase three, head outdoors. The sun is believed to help diminish chemical odours, but you should know that's also because light and heat actually degrade plastic. Phase four, get Ghost scent eliminators by Ghillie Suits (HK$50.30 and up; www.ghilliesuits.com) devised so hunters can sneak up on and kill Bambi et al. Phase five: get a clue. Next time, do us a favour and go with a more environmentally conscious brand such as Kamik (HK$449; sierratradingpost.com.

Got a question for The Dictator? E-mail her with your name, or alias, and address at: dictator@scmp.com