Need a lift? Add shoulder pads.

Shoulder pads -- believe it or not -- will make you seem taller, your waist appear slimmer and will anchor your clothes. "Shoulder pads cover sins in the body below the shoulder," says Florence-born Nunzio Salvi, a custom tailor for men and women in Washington.

However, shoulder pads will not correct bad posture, stay in place unless you anchor them, or work on every garment.

But with the right shoulder pads in the right garments, the slouchy look of the past is transformed into the more structured and slimmer mood of today. Shoulder pads can update -- or redate, depending on how you look at it -- many sweaters, jackets, dresses and coats.

William Moeller, manager of The House of Fine Fabrics, says he carried only a few shoulder-pad styles last year. This year he has stocked almost 20 varieties.

"I'm giving more instruction on how to make and place shoulder pads," says Elizabeth Simmons, owner of Ardis School of Design. She recommends cotton batting-filled pads (over synthetic varieties) because they are more adjustable.

When huge shoulder pads first appeared on fashion-show runways in Europe and New York there were cries of "Retro," and "the quarterback look." But as the exaggerated showpieces were translated into saleable styles -- with the broadened shoulder tapering to the waist and hemline -- women responded positively.

In New York, Majestic Shapes is turning out about 250,000 shoulder pads daily to accommodate womenswear manufacturers now using them. Among them: Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, Bill Kaiserman, John Anthony, Pauline Trigere, Adele Simpson, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Pendleton Mills.

Majestic president Harold Lopato, who ran a shoulder-pad factory in the 1940s (the last big-shoulder period, a-la-Joan Crawford), says at that time there were 134 shoulder-pad factories in New York. Now there are 10.

In the '40s, the shoulder shape was what Lopato calls "saddle-shaped," or sloping in the center. The pads were rigid. Today the shoulder line is straight, says Lopato, and the pads soft and more pliable. "No designer," says Lopato, "is trying to create the Rock of Gibraltar."

Custom-tailor Salvi warns that shoulder padding works best for slim rather than husky women and that the pads must be built carefully and shaped "to be in harmony with the total shape of the body."