Finding the perfect fit in the fashion world can sometimes seem a bitter task |

Finding the perfect fit in the fashion world can sometimes seem a bitter task

by Milan delVecchio

Searching for a new wardrobe can often be a venture riddled with overwhelming obstacles. At first glance, a shopping spree may seem like a very inviting indulgence for that certain fashion fiend. Department store jungles fully flourished with carousels of fresh fabrics, vine-ripe designs handpicked straight from the runway: Each item looks good enough to pluck straight from the hanger.

However, the landscape of lovely linen sometimes loses its initial appeal once it’s actually tried on for size.

Taking a look past surface appearances, it’s what’s on the inside of a shirt that counts – or so manufacturers would have you believe. Labels indicate sizes that range from XS to XXL and 28-inch inseam to “one-size fits all.” But a tag is really a relative guideline that can sometimes mislead a shopper toward poor purchases.

True, a size label can lead you in a general direction if you are a person who fits into the typical parameters of the average American measurements. But if you happen to be an infamous in-between-er, or you accidentally left your handy-dandy tape measure at home, the next step toward a fashionable future is the path leading to the fitting room.

Not including the minuscule population of Michelangelo-sculpted statuesque bodies, visits to the fitting room aren’t usually as divinely inspirational as one would hope. Trapped in a self-criticizing cubicle with only yourself and your reflection magnified beyond tasteful exaggeration by the unflattering lighting,indeed, there’s a fine line between a carnival fun house and a trip to the mall.

So, in order to soften blunt imperfections, a person must first identify her individual shape and then accommodate those features:

Start with the iconic image known as the “hourglass” figure. These blessed bodies tend to become very fond of their twin on the other side of the looking glass.

Still, there are strategies that can further accentuate the bodacious bodies of the human Barbie dolls.

The most striking feature of this particular body shape is of course the appearance of a tiny waist, further emphasized by its opposing broad shoulders and hips. To exaggerate these already marvelous measurements, a person might wear shirts that end where the waist begins, and pants that meet the hem of the shirt.

Another alternative (which fits more with the trends of the time) would be to accentuate the waist-opposing anatomy by wearing “low-rider” pants that begin at the hip bone with a crop top that ties just above where the waist begins. Before being turned off by this seemingly scandalous combination, remember that layering is “in,” and anything underneath the highlighted outfit will still maintain its shapely appeal, with or without revealing skin.

Still keeping with the times, a tunic paired with a thick belt around the waist would also be most flattering and fashionably up-to-date.

Now for the 98 percent of the population who are perfectly ill-proportioned: Contrary to the hourglass shape, a person who lacks a definable waist is generally categorized as an “apple” – although a usually refreshing fruit, the connotation in human context is rather rotten. In order to un-spoil this figure of speech, a person should detract as much attention as possible from her middle region. This can be done by wearing longer shirts, such as the tunic, that curve into a bell-shaped hemline to create a feminine flare that enhances the curve of the hips.

Emphasize and accessorize this curve with a low-waisted belt or scarf. Also, V-neck shirts tend to create a slight illusion of a waistline simply because the upside-down triangle shape mimics similar lines represented by the shoulder-to-waist measurements.

Combining such clothing will help optically chisel you from apple to apple core.

Next in the basket of “people produce” are the pear-shaped. These are the individuals who have fairly slight upper bodies compared to their lower regions. where their wide-set hips and thighs store a little extra junk in the trunk.

Fortunately, pears seem to be the most popular pick of the season in designer orchards. Hip-hugging skinny jeans paired with baby doll smocks call attention to the formerly camouflaged region. However, if you are one who still resents your over-accommodating child-bearing contours, stow away your extra baggage under some baggy pants and a tight, elongated shirt for contrast.

Acting as the pear’s reciprocal, the pizza people – or the upside-down-triangle shaped are broad on top and show little traces of puberty around their hips. Again, these days designers crave distortion. Such ideas apply to both apparel and the structure upon which the fabric is draped.

Perhaps instead of trying to even out imbalances, enhance your nonconforming measurements to tip the scales a tad. Either way, a halter top would further exaggerate wide shoulders, whereas, hip huggers with a tube top would create a minimizing illusion for the particular body type.

Pizzas, pears and apples: all essential tastes of the fashion food pyramid. And for those of us who indulge in both clothes and calories, finding the perfect fit in the fashion world can sometimes seem a bitter task – especially when the elite walking string beans make the task look like a piece of cake. Still, where there’s a will there’s a way, and with the right combination of hemline and shirt sleeves, everyone can afford to eat their cake and wear a little, too!

• Milan delVecchio is a 19-year-old fashionista with an eye for the unusual. A 2005 graduate of Carson High School, she heads back to the University of Cincinnati in the fall to study design. E-mail her at