Books for the Clothes-minded tend to fall into two categories: coffee-table tomes with academic credentials and titles like Extreme Beauty: The Figure Transformed and Fashion, Desire and Anxiety: Image and Morality (both of which I recommend) and, well, magazines. Fashion is inevitably about looking forward, about searching the street, and since the advent of the internet, even doorstops like the fall fashion issue of Vogue can seem as au courant as the Encyclopedia Britannica.
New York City, not surprisingly, boasts a pretty impressive fashion blogosphere, with many sites written by industry types. The Sartorialist (Thesartorialist.blogspot.com) is high on the list of reputable sources. A former fashion-industry insider turned fashion photographer of the street, the Sartorialist moved his lens from models and runways to the well-dressed commoner, with minimal but cogent style analysis. I think I fell in love with him, despite a bio photograph resembling Matt Lauer, when he declared during last fall's fashion week that "every season I buy one unreasonable accessory." His choice was a Dries Van Noten sequined scarf, "for an updated ascot kinda thing."
I was happy to welcome daily bible Fashionista.com when it debuted this spring. Another NYC site, it has the right combination of "who's shadow-designing for the Gap" and "what flavor-of-the-month model skipped a shoot to party at Coachella" gossip, mixed with grittier Vice-style street-fashion coverage (called, you saw this coming, Streetwalker). Their recent coverage of Kate Moss's new line for British import store TopShop - they ran out of clothes within moments - has been as breathy and up-to-the-minute as any clothes whore could ever ask for.
For celebrity fashion snark, you can't go wrong with the lovely ladies at Go Fug Yourself (Gofugyourself.typepad.com). The delightfully bitchy Jessica and Heather post the fugliest red-carpet and magazine-cover moments they can find accompanied by withering criticism, often disguised as helpful advice. When my self-esteem is low, GFY cheers me up with the knowledge that sometimes even Scarlett Johansson leaves the house in mom jeans. Plus, GFY does a Britney Spears impression that will make you wet your pants.
The resource to turn to when you want to get serious is Dexigner.com, an international site that covers not only fashion but art, industrial design, architecture, and graphics. For working designers, the updates on competitions and conferences are especially helpful. Once you get used to the unusual layout, the site is incredibly efficient and easy to navigate. Since Dexigner links to runway shows all over the world, when you're looking for inspiration you might check out what fashion students in Poland are turning out or what look won Peru's Moda 2007 top award.
If clothes are your eye candy, keep yourself current with fashion's best blogs. Your laptop may be heavier than a pulpy summer paperback, but you won't get bored halfway through, either.