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Shopping is at its best when it's spontaneous: You're casually browsing the racks and happen to spot that perfect thing you never knew you wanted.

The other kind of shopping--when you're low on options, time and the motivation it takes to track down a season's worth of basics in a few hectic hours--isn't nearly as fun.

Chicago-based service CakeStyle offers possibly the lowest-stress way to shop: don't. When you visit the company's website or River North showroom, you'll tell a "CakeStylist" your measurements, your favorite designers, the cuts and colors you love--everything she needs to know to become your personal shopper.

She'll pick out pieces from CakeStyle's inventory (Elie Tahari, DVF and Milly are among the brands in the CakeStyle stable), make a video showing you how to wear each one, box them up and send them straight to your home, where you'll try them on in total, no-pressure privacy. Shipping is free both ways, and you pay regular retail prices for the clothes--no extra fees involved. Keep what you like; send back what you don't.

Don't worry, you can still do the "fun" shopping on your own. But now stocking up on the pieces that will really carry you through is a piece of cake.

CakeStyle, 4 E. Ohio St., Studio 12; 312-228-4646 or

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