Fashion that fits: relearning to love your body

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Cheryl Eckles at Saffee's, left, works with reporter Nadia Imafidon on selecting clothes during a style consulting program called 10-10-10, which helps women find the clothes appropriate to body type.

Outfit price breakdown

It's not about a sales pitch, Steve says. Saffees will style you based on your budget, even limiting themselves to the clearance racks. For my particular exercise, Cheryl and Steve focused on fit, not budget.

Adore leather jacket, $98

Jag dark-wash bootcut jeans, $69

Luxe black tank top, $25

SODA black booties, $21.99, on sale

We always wish we had something we don’t have.

That statement alone is the basis for the “10-10-10” personal fashion consulting program that Saffees, 910 Massachusetts St., offers to women who don’t feel comfortable in their own bodies. Based on one of four body types, the trained Saffees employees will find the clothes that offer clients the perfect fit, making them look 10 pounds lighter and 10 years younger in a 10-minute consulting session (10-10-10, get it?).

Story challenge: Finding someone who doesn’t feel comfortable in their own skin to be comfortable getting photographed through this process.

Solution? Send in a reporter to investigate the situation. What an easy fix.

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A poster at Saffee's illustrates four body types for women.

But what they say is true. We all have things we don’t like about our bodies, and I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t tense up when Cheryl Eckles and owner Steve Mercurio started talking about determining my shape based on a chart hanging in the back of the store, throwing around words like "busty." Not to mention the staff photographer snapping shots of my seemingly composed self. Alright, then. Let’s put my body on full blast.

Within seconds of scanning my appearance, both Cheryl and Steve agreed I had an hourglass figure, meaning my top and my bottom halves were equally proportioned and I had a tiny waist. My waist would be my emphasized feature.

“This is the easiest to work with,” Cheryl says.

The words “best figure” were effective enough to ease some tension and prompt me to think about high-fiving a stranger in the store. Not appropriate, so I made a mental note for a 30-second dance party with my best friend later.

Their mission was already at work.

It’s important to get clients thinking about their best features instead of what they think are their biggest flaws. Finding the right fit is the combination of camouflaging the problem areas and emphasizing the beautiful. Easier said than done, Steve says, as they often get women in the store wearing clothes a few sizes too big in efforts to hide everything.

“We get ladies in here, who for 20 years haven’t felt like they look good in clothes,” Steve says of older clients who walk away feeling confident about themselves again.

I believe it. As I was sliding on the bootcut jeans I’d never select for myself, as a skinny-jeans enthusiast, I overhear Steve interacting with customers about the 10-10-10 program, and a lady adamant that it wouldn’t do anything for her. I walked out in a black sleek leather jacket with red accents on the front, a black tank top, dark jeans, black booties and a necklace (all selected by Cheryl with my complete approval) and the customers scoff at how young I am and say I could look good in anything.

Sure, in this moment, I’m living it up that I’m 22 (no Taylor Swift reference, please), and have an hourglass figure, with “great curves,” everyone kept assuring me. But when I woke up that morning, there was no audience applauding my outfit. Just an overcritical me, looking at the lumps and bumps I could do away with.

I’m not slender; my African thighs will vouch for that. And what none of these people could see is that I went through years of brutal self-deprecation before finally seeing past the imperfections. We all do.

Angie McClure is a customer from Saffees who will admit she hates shopping. Her good friend recommended that she go in and talk to Cheryl about new clothes, and McClure finally followed through after a few months of stalling. She had nothing but positive things to say about the session and Cheryl’s kindness.

“She really brought me out of my comfort zone,” McClure says. “She advised me on things I should be emphasizing based on my body type and it was really helpful.”

This personally attentive service offered at Saffees really nails it on the head. It’s psychology. They make you look at yourself in the mirror (almost constantly) while drawing attention to your beauty, just like the clothes they have you try on.

It takes too long to try on every top and bottom in the store to get the perfect fit, and this streamlines the process. Different brands offer clothes for different body types, so it’s easy to say a blouse isn’t for you when it looks like the fabric is swallowing you whole. Maybe you need a smaller armhole to pull the fabric in tighter, maybe the garment is too long and makes you look shorter.

“We don’t want you to lose weight," Steve says. “We want you to come in as you are.”

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