Shopping

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to pay more attention to my appearance. Now I’m not really a shallow and image-conscious person — okay, maybe I  am — but I was definitely in an ongoing style slump. You see, ever since I traded writing in a newspaper office for writing at my kitchen table a couple years ago, I’ve been going steadily downhill, fashion-wise. Not that I always wore full-body business attire when I worked fulltime, but I did usually try to look professional and put-together when I had an office to go to. But despite everybody’s advice to treat working-at-home just as if I was working in an office, it felt so liberating — at first – to hang out in three-day-old jeans and an old “Save the Manatees” T-shirt. I mean, if I’m interviewing unseen folks on the phone and fighting only the cats instead of cubicle-mates for leftover doughnuts, who’s going to notice? The problem was that I noticed. And as my fashion-sense gradually eroded, I started to feel dowdy and frumpy. All the time. And lazy. If, for instance, a friend would call at 10 a.m. for coffee or lunch and I was still in my PJs, I’d be inclined to decline — too much trouble to get cleaned up. (Although I promise I always got dressed by lunchtime. Or around there, anyway.) In addition, the severe reduction in my clothes-budget due to that whole leaving-a-good-paying-fulltime-job thing meant I had the perfect excuse for just shlumping around.  And that is not good. Not good at all. So as 2009 wound down, I knew I had to make an effort and make a change. Luckily, Younger Daughter moved back home after college graduation to work part-time — and she does not allow style slacking. Or pity parties. So I’ve promised myself to do better — and I’m working on it, even if it means just putting on good jeans and a sweater that doesn’t look as if it were born in the 1980s. And to get myself back in the fashion mood, I’ve been perusing magazines and Web sites for inspiration. Then I head to TJ Maxx – or my own closet. Here are my new favorite style sites — see if you like them, too.

Stylecaster, http://www.stylecaster.com/, is like getting your own personal edition of Vogue in your mailbox every day. This “fashion social network” offers articles on style, trends, designers, jewelry, hair and makeup, but the best part is the personalization aspect — for instance, you can get e-mailed style suggestions for the day based on your town’s weather. How cool is that? It’s like when the TV weather folks say, “Make sure the kids have a coat for the schoolbus this morning,” but for grownups. I also like the trend breakdown of putting together separate elements to come up with a unified look. And you can buy things and upload your own photos — but I mainly just read and look.

The Gilt Groupe, at http://www.gilt.com, is all about luxury and designers and Things You Wish You Had Somewhere To Wear Them To but it’s perfect for looking and dreaming. And being on the lookout for affordable versions of the real thing. You have to be invited so there’s sort of a behind-the-velvet-rope feel to this, but e-mail me if you want in. I mean, if they take me nobody else should have any problem.

And then there’s Shopbop, at http://www.shopbop.com/. This totally is a retail site but it covers all price points and the daily e-mails are full of the latest trends so you always know what’s hot and what’s not.