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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

Cami with front and back pleats as well as lace trim along the neckline, armholes, and bottom hem

Cami with front and back pleats as well as lace trim along the neckline, armholes, and bottom hem

Lace-trim top in a lightweight rayon knit with floral lace overlay, scalloped hem, gathered shoulders and deep scoop neck

Lace-trim top in a lightweight rayon knit with floral lace overlay, scalloped hem, gathered shoulders and deep scoop neck

Short-sleeved viscose/spandex top with ombre effect

Short-sleeved viscose/spandex top with ombre effect

Loose-fitting tank top with embroidery and beads,  scoop neck with functional zipper, and side slits

Loose-fitting tank top with embroidery and beads, scoop neck with functional zipper, and side slits

Scoop neck tank with ombre sequin pattern. Can be dressed up or down.

Scoop neck tank with ombre sequin pattern. Can be dressed up or down.

Blouse with lace yoke and sleeves. Wear with a black skirt or pants for an elegant look.

Blouse with lace yoke and sleeves. Wear with a black skirt or pants for an elegant look.

3/4-sleeve top with adjustable zipper neckline

3/4-sleeve top with adjustable zipper neckline

3/4-sleeve top with cutout neck detail

3/4-sleeve top with cutout neck detail

Trendy sleeveless summer top: shirt-tail hem with front and back asymmetrical cut out

Trendy sleeveless summer top: shirt-tail hem with front and back asymmetrical cut out

If your bust area is small, shoulder ties are a good way to add balance and interest to the shoulder area without adding extra bulk

If your bust area is small, shoulder ties are a good way to add balance and interest to the shoulder area without adding extra bulk

Jackets and Outerwear: Photo Guide

Topper jacket with elongated hem and floral embroidery at front

Topper jacket with elongated hem and floral embroidery at front

Hip-length blazer with long lapels, mock pockets at front, and vent at back

Hip-length blazer with long lapels, mock pockets at front, and vent at back

Notch-collar jacket softly structured from a textural stretch knit

Notch-collar jacket softly structured from a textural stretch knit

Hooded jacket

Hooded jacket

Classic long wool coat

Classic long wool coat

Wool blend A-line walker coat

Wool blend A-line walker coat

A-line water-resistant poly color-block jacket with button-tab sleeve cuffs and detachable hood

A-line water-resistant poly color-block jacket with button-tab sleeve cuffs and detachable hood

A-line wool-blend coat, single-breasted style cut with simple kimono sleeves

A-line wool-blend coat, single-breasted style cut with simple kimono sleeves

Collarless long, lightly structured coat with gunflaps. Unlined with side slits.

Collarless long, lightly structured coat with gunflaps. Unlined with side slits.

Raglan-sleeve coat cut from a wool blend in a longer, A-line silhouette

Raglan-sleeve coat cut from a wool blend in a longer, A-line silhouette

Swimwear: Photo Guide

Tiered tankini with contrasting trim. The ruffled design offers coverage and a flattering look.

Tiered tankini with contrasting trim. The ruffled design offers coverage and a flattering look.

Handkerchief tankini top

Handkerchief tankini top

The dresskini offers the coverage of a swim dress and the convenience of a tankini top.

The dresskini offers the coverage of a swim dress and the convenience of a tankini top.

This sporty dresskini has a high neckline & sleek tunic-length dress.

This sporty dresskini has a high neckline & sleek tunic-length dress.

This sleek swim dress has an attractive split-skirt overlay with just the right coverage over a one-piece swimsuit.

This sleek swim dress has an attractive split-skirt overlay with just the right coverage over a one-piece swimsuit.

Everyday Shoes: Photo Guide

Mary janes with concave heel

Mary janes with concave heel

Comfortable lightweight sandals with adjustable straps

Comfortable lightweight sandals with adjustable straps

Comfortable suede loafers

Comfortable suede loafers

Leather multi-strap slide sandal with fully padded contoured foot bed

Leather multi-strap slide sandal with fully padded contoured foot bed

Dressy Shoes: Photo Guie

Comfy, super stylish over-the-knee boots. Fabric upper, round toe, hidden wedge with rubber outsole. Super sexy!

Comfy, super stylish over-the-knee boots. Fabric upper, round toe, hidden wedge with rubber outsole. Super sexy!

Black suede wedge pumps with 1.5-inch heel

Black suede wedge pumps with 1.5-inch heel

Perforated leather open-toe booties with 2.5-inch heel

Perforated leather open-toe booties with 2.5-inch heel

Suede open-toe bootie with 2-inch heel

Suede open-toe bootie with 2-inch heel

Stylish platform sandal with chunky heel and slingback strap. The molded and shock-absorbing sole make it comfortable. Mix of leather and elastic laddered straps, 3 inch heel, 1.5 inch platform.

Stylish platform sandal with chunky heel and slingback strap. The molded and shock-absorbing sole make it comfortable. Mix of leather and elastic laddered straps, 3 inch heel, 1.5 inch platform.

Slingback sandal with peep toe and stacked heel is shock-absorbent, flexible, and slip-resistant. Adjustable strap with buckle closure, leather upper/textile lining/rubber sole, 2.5-inch heel.

Slingback sandal with peep toe and stacked heel is shock-absorbent, flexible, and slip-resistant. Adjustable strap with buckle closure, leather upper/textile lining/rubber sole, 2.5-inch heel.

Comfy, classy, low-wedge slip-on pumps

Comfy, classy, low-wedge slip-on pumps

Low suede block heel ankle boots with cutout design and zipper back. Style and comfort at its best.

Low suede block heel ankle boots with cutout design and zipper back. Style and comfort at its best.

Block heel ankle boots with zip back fastening can be dressed up or down

Block heel ankle boots with zip back fastening can be dressed up or down

Trendy cage wedge sandal

Trendy cage wedge sandal

Apple-Shaped Celebrities

Kelly Osbourne, Elizabeth Hurley, and Drew Barrymore

Kelly Osbourne, Elizabeth Hurley, and Drew Barrymore

Mindy Kaling and Jennifer Hudson

Mindy Kaling and Jennifer Hudson

Further Reading

© 2012 Tranquilheart

Comments

Tranquilheart (author) from Canada on August 20, 2020:

The clothing pictures are mainly from macys.com and asos.com, a few from oldnavy.gap.com, others I can't remember

Lourdes on August 19, 2020:

Could you please provide the store where you have acquire these clothing pieces? I am 5'1", between size 16 to 18. It is really hard to get fun clothing on this size and height. Thanks.

Tranquilheart (author) from Canada on December 05, 2019:

Hello Carolyn Cannings, your outfit sounds elegant & fun! I'm glad my tips helped you out. And I'm so pleased that you felt very comfortable because that is what I aim for. Thank you for sharing your lovely experience here with us. Wishing you many more. Cheers!

Carolyn Cannings on December 02, 2019:

Just wanted to let you know, with your help I chose black pants, black cami with diamantes around the neckline and a hip-length jacket for my son's wedding. My outfit was a great success. I felt very comfortable and also felt quite dressed-up. I received quite a few compliments, not something I am used to hearing. Thank you for your wonderful HubPage.

Carolyn Cannings on September 06, 2019:

This is very very helpful. The photos are so encouraging because you have used real ladies instead of 6' tall size 10 models! I'm planning my outfit for my son's coming wedding and your tips were just what I've been looking for. Much appreciated

Yogita on August 18, 2019:

Please give some tips for Indian wear I. Am 4ft 9inch and little chubby

Nitin Patil from Surat on April 18, 2019:

Great tips for women.......

Memey on March 31, 2019:

Thank you!

nimrakhan111015 on March 22, 2019:

Good tips very informative

Tranquilheart (author) from Canada on November 05, 2018:

rbsof : Macys.com

rbsof on November 02, 2018:

Hi where can I find the A-line swing dress with floral placement print?

PaulaPlaytex on August 22, 2018:

I'm an "Overweight Male"...I always wear my Matching Bras and Panties.

Patricia Ring from Sugar Land on July 19, 2018:

Perfect clothing tips for every type of body shapes, thank you for sharing this beautiful information.

yogesh pal from India on June 22, 2018:

Thanks so much,

for sharing this informative post and I like the way you described all the things with perfect information.

now I can share this with my friend

Fishbark on May 26, 2018:

Thank you! It was as though I was writing the article myself. It was as though you were in my head. I never wear pleated skirts or pants. I never wear a belt. I never wear empire waist. Thank you for your beautiful common sense.

Mike Ralph from Singapore on May 14, 2018:

Amazingly created this post with so many beautiful pictures. Loved completely. It will inspire so many fat people to think about a fashion actually. These tips will help indeed.