There's never been a more flattering period in fashion for hiding a few lumps and bulges in the figure. Big, loose dresses, soft tunics, unfitted blazers and boxy vests can hide a multitude of sins.

And the half-size department, known for its abundance of polyester and rather matronly styles, finally has a new image. Instead of doubleknit pastels, manufacturers will present many natural fabrics and colors for spring with a very current fashion flavor.

Clockwise from upper left: A crepe de chine loose top and wraparound skirt. Designed by Kevin Garne for the Great Expectation Boutique.

(One size fits up to size 20, but they will custom-make larger.) Top, $22. Skirt,$30.

A lacy knit drawstring top, front-slit skirt topped with a boxy vest. By Lady Fairfield for Lane Bryant. Top of silk blend in sizes 38-52 $19; skirt of poly/cotton sizes 32-46, $18.

Sometimes the best way to solve fit problems is to make your own clothes. Here is a big smock made in cotton shirting fabric from Vogue pattern No. 9717 $3.50 sizes 12 1/2 to 20 1/2.

A bowed dress with soft jacket from Sears comes ($3.50 sizes 12 1/2 to 20 1/2.)

A pretty challis print dress and matching shawl, shown with another print flounced skirt peeking out underneath. By Young Contemporary at Lord & Taylor in sizes 12 1/2 - 22 1/2, $72.