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Must-have mags provide glossy delights

My pulse quickens, my palms are moist and my breathing shallow. É Benicio Del Toro in my boudoir? No, I am in the magazine section of the bookstore.

A ridiculous reaction to bright bits of paper, you say. Perhaps, but we all have our guilty pleasures. For you, it's 'American Idol' or hang gliding. For me, it's the monthly infusion of fresh words and glossy images that only a good magazine provides fodder to entertain and inspire.

And unlike books, which often come with a lot of pseudo-intellectual reverence attached ('You can't throw that out; that's a book!'), magazines are a cheap date: You get what you can from 'em and toss 'em.

Here are a few of the style-related periodicals worth seeking out or better yet, having delivered to your door.

• British Vogue: Equally adept at covering haute couture and High Street knockoffs, British Vogue covers all the wickets. And perhaps because it's closer to Paris than New York, BV has a cheekier approach to fashion than the U.S. Vogue, which lately seems to hang its chapeau on pedestrian concerns such as dressing for one's age and shape. Where's the beef?

• O: What at first looked like an homage to someone who gets more than enough attention, Oprah's eponymous publication has surprised everyone with its style chops. No mix-and-match separates here: The media goddess's taste for distinctive luxury is evident in the magazine's fashion and interior pages. Good-ol'-boy advice from hunky Dr. Phil is a bonus.

• Lucky: This fairly new magazine is just what serious shoppers have been waiting for. No story lines or leaping models here: Lucky tells a reader what's hot and who's got it, all within a fresh format devoid of excessive copy.

• Elle: Mixing high and low price points in a fashion spread is commonplace now, but when Elle showed Levi's with a Chanel jacket in the mid-'80s, it was a groundbreaking move. To this day, nobody pulls off the clever combinations of trends and prices better. Elle also has the best advice columnist in the industry: E. Jean shoots straight from the hip with her funny, assertive counsel.

• W: One of the few fashion mags that understand the power of a photograph, W hires the best shooters and gives them free rein. The oversized monthly also has Suzy, the last of the great gossip columnists, in its stable of contributors.

• Budget Living: Although I'd much rather have boots than throw pillows, I like to check out interior mags for clever, affordable ways to entertain or spiff up my abode. With doable ideas in spades, this hip little magazine with the dour name never misses the mark. In fact, Adweek magazine named Budget Living the startup magazine of the year for 2003.

• Elle Decoration: Here's another magazine for people who'd rather have throw pillows than boots. Grittier and more inspiring than the American publication Elle Decor, this British monthly is more likely to feature a madcap artist's loft than a royal's country cottage.

• Town & Country: Not only does reading T&C make you feel like you've been hobnobbing with the hoity-toity, but you also get the best horoscope in any periodical.

• People: This magazine is like Celine Dion's music and Spam: No one wants to admit that they like it. As one friend said about the tastiest of magazines, 'Let's face it, what's better than curling up with the latest issue of People?' Pure decadence every seven days? That's a lot more than Benicio gives me.

Contact Jill Spitznass at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .