I keep getting requests for styling tips for plus size apple shapes. But, before I even get into my tips, I feel like I need to emphasize the following:
When it comes to styling tips, tricks, guidelines, and suggestions, please ALWAYS remember…
- Fashion is meant to be fun, creative, and an expression of the self. There are NO RULES.
- Ultimately wear what you want. Wear what makes you feel good and brings you joy.
- Everyone is unique. No suggestion will work for everyone because everyone is different. Some people are short, tall, long torso, short legs, small bust, big bust, no waist, wide hips, etc. I could go on and on. We are all unique combinations. Use what works for you. Disregard what doesn’t.
- Experiment! Because you are unique, you are going to have to experiment. Try out some of my suggestions. Use what you like.
Styling Tips for Plus Size Apple Shapes
From image, clockwise: Waterfall Cardigan, Wrap Dress, Bootcut Jeans, Empire Top, Long Tassel Necklace, Striped Swing Tunic, Boyfriend Jeans, Wrap Top (similar), Swing Dress (similar), Long Necklace, Straight Leg Trousers
Are you a plus size apple shape?
So let’s start with figuring out who this applies to. The apple shape applies to more plus size women than most realize!
There are two types of apples, in my opinion. Those who are always apples (“born apples”) and those who become apples when they gain weight (“new apples”). Both are styled very similarly, but I bring this up so that some folks might see that although they used to be a pear or an hourglass, their tummy has become rounded, making them more of an apple-shape.
Compare my mom and I for example. My mom is tall with a long torso. And she is a “born apple,” she carries ALL of her weight in her belly. She has skinny arms and long lean legs. I, on the other hand, was an hourglass. I’ve got hips, booty, thunder thighs, and wings for arms. But, when I gain weight beyond a size 18/20, I really become more of an apple shape because my midsection becomes so rounded and filled out, that my natural waist is no longer the smallest part of my body. I become a “new apple.” So, although my mom and I still look very different, we often dress similarly because of our large(r) midsections.
- Remain apple-shaped regardless of size or weight gain/loss
- Carry weight in their tummy
- Average to large breasts
- Have small(er) legs and arms
- Are not apple-shaped unless they gain a certain amount of weight
- Can become an apple-shape during peri-menopause as weight gain in the tummy is a characteristic
- Carry weight all over and have proportional legs and arms
Why should these seemingly different body shapes be styled similarly? Because the ultimate goal of styling these shapes is to minimize the tummy, create a the illusion of a defined waist, and/or play up other features. And once you learn how to do this, you can recreate the same “faux” silhouette time and time again. I can look at catalog/website images of clothes and immediately know whether something is going to look good on me or not. It is second nature and I take it for granted. But I will teach you how to do this too!
Styling Plus Size Apple Goals
- Minimize the tummy
- Create the illusion of a waist
- Play up positive features
- Create a new silhouette
How do we achieve these goals? Let’s start with the top and work our way down.
Styling Tips for Plus Size Apple Shapes
Your favorite neckline is going to be a V-neck or deep V-neck. This is going to visually draw the eye up and divide the width of your shoulders and chest. And since we are bringing the eyes up, invest in a good bra. Keep those girls up! A scoop neck, especially a lower scoop works well also.
Whether you are looking for dresses, tunics, or tops, look for:
- empire waists
- wrap styles
- peplum (only peplum styles with a high/empire waist)
Plus Size Apple Shape Dresses
A New Silhouette
As I was trying to show in my poorly drawn Instagram post, you can create a new waistline by choosing clothing with a waistband, elastic, belt, tie, etc., at the smallest part of your torso, just under the bust (classically referred to as the empire waist). This includes adding your own belt to swing and trapeze styles. One of my favorite work tops looks like a shapeless muumuu that’s been cut at the hip. It looks ridiculous until I add a belt. Then it is fabulous!
Plus Size Tops and Tunics for Apple Shapes
But I have a couple of special circumstances or caveats to add. First, if you have a small bust, this may not work as well for you. Because there is not a large difference in the width of the bust and width of the “new waist” (just under the bust), you may be unable to get that new faux waist silhouette. That’s ok. You can still look for most of the styles listed above, but you’re going to look best in the trapeze, swing, and wrap styles. My mom is a great example, she is a classic apple with a small bust, and she looks like a million bucks in these basic a-line tunics. They bring the eye up to her decolletage and face, skim over her tummy (camouflage), and create a long line.
But Won’t I Look Pregnant?
Second, I often hear, “that [insert empire waist/babydoll top or dress] will make me look pregnant.” Yes, often maternity clothing does come in similar styles. Because often pregnant women become apple shaped with large tummies and these styles are the most flattering to that shape. So, you might look pregnant, either by virtue of wearing a style of clothing that is common to maternity wear, or because you share the same shape as a pregnant woman, regardless of what you are wearing.
For example, I can easily look pregnant in a flattering empire waist tunic or skin-tight bodycon dress, because that is just my shape. I have a big tummy like a pregnant woman. It happens! But I am going to look better in the empire waist tunic than the bodycon dress. And to me, that’s what matters.
More Plus Size Apple Shape Dresses
Next let’s talk about layers! Top your look with a structured single-breasted blazer with a nice v-shape, with the point of the V or button just below the bust. Make sure it fits your shoulders. Wear it open with a flowy layer under it or a scarf on top of it. The shape of the blazer becomes your new shape, so look for a structured feminine shape.
As for jeans and trousers, the ideal is to balance out the tummy with a bootcut or straight leg. Even a boyfriend cut is flattering. Some stylists will tell you to stay away from skinny jeans and jeggings. But I feel like most people aren’t flattered by a skinny jean, except maybe very tall thin models. But, the skinny leg is in style. So instead of shying away from them, try to wear them in a more flattering way.
When apple-shaped, wear skinny jeans and jeggings with a long swing or empire waist tunic, a draped cardigan or some combination. Classic apples have shapely legs (I’m jealous), so I think they are an asset to show off. When putting together a skinny jean outfit, think of how great an apple looks in a mini swing dress and just add skinny jeans. That is the silhouette you are looking for. I hope that makes sense.
So hopefully you have some better idea of what to pick when shopping for your apple shape. And remember to always experiment!
Plus Size Apple Shapes
If you have any questions, please leave in the comments below. This post is just the first in a series about dressing for your plus size shape.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on or purchase through certain links, I may receive a small commission.