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Style Tips for Real Women: Short, Overweight, Apple-Shaped

As a 5'3", overweight, apple-shaped 50ish woman, I know how hard it can be to find flattering clothing.

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What to Wear If You're Overweight and Apple-Shaped

Do you cringe when you look at yourself in photos? Do you have bulges and curves in all the wrong places? Do you get depressed when you think about shopping for clothing? Have you ever mortifyingly been asked, "when are expecting?"

You and I, my friend, face a similar dilemma.

It is an uphill battle trying to find appealing outfits for someone like me: 5 feet 3 inches, overweight, apple-shaped, and 50-something. The tips I find online are helpful, but when the photos are for expensive designer outfits made for celebrities or the wealthy, it doesn't leave me much to go on.

I needed to find clothing tips for real women like me.

After years of trial and error, I have found a few nice pieces I rely on that never fail to make me feel confident. Importantly, I've figured out why they work, so I hope my thoughts on this page can be helpful to you, too.

On This Page

  • What Does Apple-Shaped Mean?
  • Video: Apple-Shaped Body Style Tips
  • Style Tips for Overweight, Apple-Shaped Women
  • Video: Plus-Size Style Tips
  • Photo Guides: Dresses / Pants and Skirts / Tops / Jackets and Outerwear / Swimwear / Everyday Shoes / Dressy Shoes
  • Apple-Shaped Celebrities
  • Video: Who Is Your Celebrity Body Twin?
  • Links for Further Reading
Apple-shaped women are fuller around the middle.

Apple-shaped women are fuller around the middle.

What Does Apple-Shaped Mean?

Apple-shaped women are fuller around the middle. If they gain weight, it shows up around their belly and upper body. They’re usually larger-breasted, and their upper arms and shoulders are broader, too. Their legs tend to be thin and their butts tend to be flat. The ratio of bust to waist to hips is 4:4:3.

Style Tips for Overweight, Apple-Shaped Women

When I look up styling tips for this body shape, I typically see recommendations like this:

The main goal is to create the illusion of a trim waistline. Choose tailored tops, dresses and sweaters. They trim the silhouette, as opposed to boxy tops, which exaggerate a wider waistline. A plunging neckline lengthens the neck and minimizes the chest and torso. Tops and dresses featuring ruching or shirring at the middle or side define a large waistline. Wear straight wide and flare leg pants, which balance the bottom of the body.

Useful Tips

  • Wear properly fitted bras that support the bust
  • Dress in one color/hue/shade to give a uniform look
  • Wear clothes that fit properly (do not sag or bind)
  • Select garments with vertical lines
  • Choose V- or U-shaped necklines
  • Avoid bulky fabrics
  • Avoid sheer or clingy fabrics
  • Avoid styles with extra bulk: frills, pleats, or ruching
  • Avoid bright colors and large patterns
  • Avoid belts altogether
  • Choose pants without cuffs, bulky pockets, or pleats
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Read More From Bellatory

Impractical Tips (In My Opinion)

  • Avoid oversized handbags. I have a lot of stuff to lug around!
  • Wear high heels. I have bad feet, so that rules out high heels for me for everyday wear.
  • Choose an empire waist top: This common tip for the apple-shaped body doesn't work for me. In fact, the cinching or gathering below the bust draws attention to my rounded midsection. It only works if you have a flat tummy, or if you can flatten your torso with a body shaper.

More Tips That Work for Me

  • I highly recommend medium-weight jersey and knit fabrics with a little spandex for tops, as they provide maximum comfort and movability.
  • Dark colors with no pattern or a small pattern are best. Sometimes, a pattern can camouflage lumps and bumps.
  • Hip-length tops are more flattering than waist-length tops (think about how waist-length tops slide upward when you lift your arms up!).
  • Avoid low-waisted pants. I get a muffin top when I wear pants that are cut this way. What works better for me are loose-fitting pants that sit at the waist and hang straight to the floor.
  • When shopping online, stay away from clothes that include the following phrase in the description: "emphasize your feminine curves." This is because you want to de-emphasize your curves! Descriptions that say "easy-care stretch fabric," or "comfortable and effortlessly stylish" are good.
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable and that offer good support. Sensible shoes don't have to mean ugly shoes—there are lots to choose from these days. But comfy is key because feeling good is essential to looking good.
  • Wear dazzling necklaces to emphasize your neckline. Medium-sized pieces that lie flat work best. Don't go too chunky—this will make you look top-heavy.

Dresses: Photo Guide

Plus-size fashion doesn't have to be boring! This simple velvety electric blue cocktail dress with black scroll pattern is guaranteed to dazzle.

Plus-size fashion doesn't have to be boring! This simple velvety electric blue cocktail dress with black scroll pattern is guaranteed to dazzle.

A-line chiffon floor-length one-shoulder formal dress with fitted bodice and rhinestone trim

A-line chiffon floor-length one-shoulder formal dress with fitted bodice and rhinestone trim

Jewel neckline chiffon dress with trapeze silhouette and long sleeves

Jewel neckline chiffon dress with trapeze silhouette and long sleeves

Evening pant set with chiffon popover capelet, cold-shoulder sleeves, and sequin trim at neck and shoulder

Evening pant set with chiffon popover capelet, cold-shoulder sleeves, and sequin trim at neck and shoulder

Sleeveless V-neck loose-fitting swing dress with asymmetrical hem

Sleeveless V-neck loose-fitting swing dress with asymmetrical hem

Swing dress with lace yoke and sleeves detail

Swing dress with lace yoke and sleeves detail

Sporty and youthful sheath dress with printed flounce hem

Sporty and youthful sheath dress with printed flounce hem

Knit sleeveless maxi dress with a scoop neckline and high-low flounce hem

Knit sleeveless maxi dress with a scoop neckline and high-low flounce hem

Feminine sheath dress with beautiful border of flowers at the neck and hemline

Feminine sheath dress with beautiful border of flowers at the neck and hemline

Deep V-neck empire-waist black and white jumpsuit

Deep V-neck empire-waist black and white jumpsuit

Three-piece pantsuit with glitter details and mesh sleeves

Three-piece pantsuit with glitter details and mesh sleeves

Easy trendy lace slip dress with spaghetti straps, romantic lace, V-neck and back

Easy trendy lace slip dress with spaghetti straps, romantic lace, V-neck and back

Sleeveless dress with A-line silhouette, colorblocking and high-low hem. The stylish hemline emphasizes the legs.

Sleeveless dress with A-line silhouette, colorblocking and high-low hem. The stylish hemline emphasizes the legs.

Crinkle-chiffon maxi dress with split neckline and elasticized waist

Crinkle-chiffon maxi dress with split neckline and elasticized waist

Sleeveless chiffon swing dress with stone embellishment on chest

Sleeveless chiffon swing dress with stone embellishment on chest

Relaxed jersey sleeveless swing dress with scoop neckline with beaded embellishment, cutout back with an embellished beaded trim, and a dipped reverse hem

Relaxed jersey sleeveless swing dress with scoop neckline with beaded embellishment, cutout back with an embellished beaded trim, and a dipped reverse hem

Basic relaxed jersey swing dress with V-neckline

Basic relaxed jersey swing dress with V-neckline

Velvet T-shirt dress with round neck and long mesh sleeves. Curves have never looked sexier!

Velvet T-shirt dress with round neck and long mesh sleeves. Curves have never looked sexier!

A-line swing dress with floral placement print

A-line swing dress with floral placement print

Swing dress with rounded split neckline, lace-up styling and eyelet trim at front yoke, and seamed, shirred back waist

Swing dress with rounded split neckline, lace-up styling and eyelet trim at front yoke, and seamed, shirred back waist

Rayon stretch jersey dress, relaxed through the body with a flared hem that swings out

Rayon stretch jersey dress, relaxed through the body with a flared hem that swings out

Pants and Skirts: Photo Guide

Midi skirt with sheer pleated tulle, lace underlay, and high-rise waist

Midi skirt with sheer pleated tulle, lace underlay, and high-rise waist

Faux wrap skirt

Faux wrap skirt

For those with lovely legs, this vibrant stretch-knit skirt with asymmetrical black-mesh overlay wrap is for you.

For those with lovely legs, this vibrant stretch-knit skirt with asymmetrical black-mesh overlay wrap is for you.

Casual yet elegant pull-on straight-leg pants with elastic waistband, and no pockets (70% viscose rayon, 24% nylon, 6% spandex)

Casual yet elegant pull-on straight-leg pants with elastic waistband, and no pockets (70% viscose rayon, 24% nylon, 6% spandex)

Classic straight-leg cut pants tailored for a smooth, clean fit in any-season crepe. Elastic insets discreetly hidden at the side waist, zip-fly with hook-and-bar closure, and back welt pockets.

Classic straight-leg cut pants tailored for a smooth, clean fit in any-season crepe. Elastic insets discreetly hidden at the side waist, zip-fly with hook-and-bar closure, and back welt pockets.

Extremely comfy relaxed fit cotton-poly velour pants can be dressed up or down. The thin elastic waistband won't fold over at waistline.

Extremely comfy relaxed fit cotton-poly velour pants can be dressed up or down. The thin elastic waistband won't fold over at waistline.

Cotton/polyester fleece relaxed sweatpants with flat elastic waistband. No drawstring, pockets, or cuffs.

Cotton/polyester fleece relaxed sweatpants with flat elastic waistband. No drawstring, pockets, or cuffs.

Comfy, stretchy wide-legged denim pants with all around elastic waist, drawstring, slash pockets, and stitched cuffed hem

Comfy, stretchy wide-legged denim pants with all around elastic waist, drawstring, slash pockets, and stitched cuffed hem

Classic-fit lightweight cotton canvas pants with elastic waist

Classic-fit lightweight cotton canvas pants with elastic waist

Cotton-polyester French terry Bermuda shorts with drawstring waistband and two side pockets

Cotton-polyester French terry Bermuda shorts with drawstring waistband and two side pockets

Soft cotton jersey shorts with wide, ribbed elastic waist that flexes for ease of movement

Soft cotton jersey shorts with wide, ribbed elastic waist that flexes for ease of movement

Tops: Photo Guide

Easy-fit long-sleeved blouse with lace overlay and scoop neck

Easy-fit long-sleeved blouse with lace overlay and scoop neck

Long-sleeved cardigan with shawl collar, light-textured polyester-spandex fabric

Long-sleeved cardigan with shawl collar, light-textured polyester-spandex fabric

Sexy sleeveless top

Sexy sleeveless top

Split V-neck henley, soft lightweight burnout jersey in all-over stripes with drop-shoulder and rounded hi-lo hem

Split V-neck henley, soft lightweight burnout jersey in all-over stripes with drop-shoulder and rounded hi-lo hem