Every so often I get inquiries from local ladies who want to hire a personal stylist. Most ask if there's an Alaska version of Stacy London and Clinton Kelly out there to grab them by their out-of-date outfit and shake some sartorial sense into them.
No one I've encountered in my shopping adventures yet matches that "What Not To Wear" description of personal styling. Until then, here are a few Web sites designed to make your shopping experience -- online or otherwise -- better.
At the very least, each site can help you think about how to better style your body.
Zafu is a Web site that helps you find the ever-elusive perfect pair of jeans. The concept is simple: You answer a handful of questions about your body type, stats, how your current jeans fit and what you wish your jeans would do for your figure (My "wish list" includes wanting to make my legs look a million miles long.) Zafu searches through its data- base, which includes every brand you can think of, and creates a list of your ideal denim, where to buy and how much. The site draws from more than 90 brands, and the prices range from $30 to more than $200.
Even if you never plan on purchasing Zafu's picks, it's worth a try. You might be surprised by the results (Who knew that DKNY was the brand best designed for my body?), and you might realize what you want and need are a far cry from what you're currently wearing.
MyShape is like having an online personal shopper. The Web site identifies seven body types following the M-Y-S-H-A-P-E letters. When you register, you answer a series of questions that include your skin tone (I thought we weren't using that winter/spring/summer/autumn palette anymore?), body dimensions (This can get tricky; you might need an extra set of hands to take all your measurements), fit preferences and favorite styles and brands. Then MyShape offers personalized clothing collections for you in your "personal shop."
The best part? The shopping options are off-the-moment and pull from more than 100 brands.
Think of Size Me Up Online as a currency converter for clothing. Wether you're experiencing inconsistencies in sizes between your favorite brands or you're a victim of vanity sizing, Size Me Up gives shoppers a quick and easy way to translate their size from one brand to another.
Say your favorite pair of pants is a Banana Republic size 6, and you want to order a similar pair of pants from J. Crew. At Size Me Up, you head to the "Share your closet" section and enter the brand, style and size of the garment you know and love, and the site will find you a comparative size and fit in the item you're shopping for.
I did a test with two pairs of pants I own, and the results were accurate. The site's still in its infancy, so it's a bit clunky, but there's great potential in the concept -- think of never having to send something back because it doesn't fit!