How to Dress an Apple Shape
First, I’d like to say that I will never suggest you try to “camouflage” any part of your body with wardrobe trickery. Balance IS an important component to assembling an outfit, but when I see the term “balance out” in regards to dressing your shape, it’s usually referring to some kind of attempt to trick the viewer into thinking you don’t actually have those wider hips or wider shoulders or larger bust or whatever physical feature has been deemed undesirable. (I could go on a whole rant here about how many of those “dress for your body shape” infographics hold up the not-that-common “hourglass” shape as the epitome of female beauty and imply that every other shape needs correction via garments).
There is NOTHING WRONG with the way you look. There is nothing wrong with your bone structure. There is nothing wrong with where and how you carry weight.
I’d also like to note that the presence of curves and/or fleshiness does not necessarily mean you are a romantic-influenced archetype. Any archetype can be curvy or fleshy. On the flip side, not every woman with a romantic-influenced archetype is extremely curvy.
Here are just some of my go-to techniques for dressing an apple shape*:
1. Get a bra fitting. Support comes from the band, not the straps. If you’ve found your bra size by measuring your underbust and adding inches, you are not getting your bust support from the band. Cup size is also proportional to band size: DD means nothing without the accompanying band measurement, so a woman wearing a 30DD will be much smaller-chested than a woman wearing a 38DD. Letters do not stop at DD! I’ve had clients shocked to find they are really an H or even a K cup, but they are much more comfortable in the new bras than they were in the old. If you can, get fitted at a local bra boutique or even a Nordstrom; they’ll be able to advise not only on a good fit but on styles that fit your breast shape and your preferred level of coverage. Having a comfortable and supportive bra will make ALL of your clothing look better.
2. Avoid strong waist definition if you don't have a defined waist. You’ve probably already noticed that trying to emphasize the waist via a belt or tucking at the waist just draws attention to the lack of one. Still, you want to avoid adding excess volume, or letting fabric get too far away from the body. Stay away from very boxy/wide tops, such as square-cut shirts or trapeze shapes. Instead look for tops which are more fitted through the shoulders and bust, with a moderate amount of flow beyond that point.
3. Look for thicker knit fabrics vs super thin clingy ones. These fabrics provide comfort and freedom of movement without emphasizing every contour of your body. Sometimes these are advertised simply as “jersey,” which doesn’t help you when shopping online (vs in-store, where you can feel the fabric in hand.) Ponte knit and scuba fabrics are great. Side ruching, princess seaming, and soft draping can help provide a little natural shaping without that ultra-cinched look. Many women with an apple shape prefer patterned tops, or tops with a more open/detailed neckline.
4. Wear higher-waisted pants and skirts. Lower-waisted styles will often cut into the fleshiest part of a woman’s hip or midsection, which creates a “muffin top” and is just frankly uncomfortable. Higher-waisted styles will also provide some smoothing under tops. Aim for the spot that naturally feels the most comfortable to you and cuts you off the least when sitting/moving around. For some women that will be more of a mid-rise, for other women it will be difficult to find a rise that’s high enough. The best cut of your pants through the legs will depend on your archetype.
5. Let your tops lay over the waistband of your pants/skirts, instead of tucking them in. tucking tops into your pants/skirts. Your ideal shirt length will then depend on the rise of your bottom pieces and the type of shirt you’re wearing (a tunic vs a tee, for example). Slightly flared crop tops are trendy right now and they can often look really chic worn over a skirt or high-waisted jeans.
If you've read this far and you don't know what kind of silhouette strategy, shapes, or design details are best for you - or how to pull them all together into a coherent personal style - I'd love to chat with you. You can schedule a free exploration call with me here.
*I use this term because it’s the term women with this shape usually use when they approach me for help.