How to Dress A Plus Sized Apple Shape

Calling all my voluptuous apples!

This is your ultimate guide to plus-sized fashion, and a reference guide for future shopping and outfit creation. Let’s get to work!

If you’re plus-sized and apple shaped, you probably carry most of your weight in the midsection. You may have slim legs and arms, and a round face, and a full or slim bust. The midsection is key!

(Check out celebrity examples of plus-sized apple shapes to see what I mean.)

Heads up: this is a body positive blog. Diets, calorie counting, and shaming have no place here. We are all whatever size we are: we all have just this one body. Our whole lives.

As far as I’m concerned, the “job” of fashion is to help us better enjoy and appreciate our beauty and our differences, all the while in our one body.

If you like any examples, click the pictures to learn more about the outfits or specific pieces featured.

  • Layering is key

What is layering? Stacking different types of clothes, usually tops, to achieve a certain look or goal. You can read more about layering with sweaters here.

Layering starts with a foundation layer, like a cami, dress, tunic, or t-shirt.

This foundation layer is often neutral colored, black, or white, and made out of thin or breathable fabric (because it will be underneath everything, and you don’t want to sweat to death!). From here, it’s up to your imagination and creativity.

Simple layering involves a sweater or vest or poncho over a foundational layer. As an example, this is a simple cardigan over a white cami foundation, and jeans. Easy but stunning.

adorable layered cardiganVests can make an otherwise boring outfit pop. Here, again, a vest over a plain white shirt and jeans – see how the cardigan and vest outfits give off a totally different feeling? The only difference is the outer layer.

brown quilted vest

You can even build three layers by adding a jacket over a lightweight top and cardigan, button-down, or vest. Yes, three.

Try this with lighter jackets that can be worn indoors, like those made out of denim, canvas, or even light leather. Here’s an example using three layers that looks awesome. Light T-shirt, button-down plaid, and a canvas motorcycle jacket.

three layers of shirts plus size

What’s the point of the layering? Why does it matter so much for plus sized apple shapes? The point is to create new, long visual lines for our midsections and alternative structure to our torsos.

Layers provide balance to plus size apple shapes, and make us look less circular.

    • Wear shapewear.

Shapewear doesn’t have to be a prison. Comfortable shapewear exists.

The goal for shapewear, especially for work clothes or every day clothes, is to smooth out your sillhouette. Only for formal occasions, or maybe dates, should you bother with the really restrictive stuff like SPANX.

Try your outfits on with and without ever day shapewear. Give yourself the option. You might just find yourself going for it more often, and enjoying the extra smoothing it provides.

    • Rock it with your accessories.

In my experience, some of us plus sized apple shaped women forget about accessories. This is especially true for those of us who’ve spent years in scrubs or sweatpants from frustration.

Let’s fix that.

Wear cool sunglasses. Wear fun earrings, necklaces, bracelets. Have a handbag you love, one that gets compliments!

Rock the lipstick, the hair band, the sparkly hair clip, the scarf.

Accessories draw the eye and steal the show from your big belly. With intentional, flattering accessories: YOU control the narrative of your outfit and the impact you have on first and lasting impressions.


Accessories are my personal favorite part of getting dressed!

Best of all? Accessories can turn a boring, utilitarian everyday outfit into something with a definite personality.

Use accessories deliberately. DAILY. Make a statement.

    • Wear comfortable but show-stealing shoes.

Shoes with personality are awesome.

We plus-sized apple shapes need cute, eye-catching shoes to make us look less like a lollipop on stilts.

Because our legs are quite thin relative to our middles and shoulders, shoes with width and substance are a way to bring balance to the lower body.

Here are a few random but COMPLETELY CUTE pairs of shoes worth considering as examples.

If these are out of your comfort zone, I encourage you to give them a shot. You’d be amazed at how pair of unique shoes transforms an otherwise boring outfit.

    • Have interchangeable pieces in your wardrobe for easy outfit making.

You sometimes see this concept referred to as a “capsule wardrobe” in the extreme. But the general idea is good, and helpful.

When you’re shopping, and considering buying a piece, think about all the things you *already have* that would go with what you want to buy.

I’m guilty of buying too many individualistic, cute pieces that are challenging to throw together, because I don’t stop and think about all the ways to mix and match. So I pay extra attention to the capsule wardrobe groupies, because I have much to learn from them!

The more your clothes blend together easily, the easier it will be for you to get dressed in the morning and not wear your scrubs or sweat in protest again.


Even if you hate dresses. Give dresses a shot.

Why? Because, I’ve shown time and time again, dresses are SO flattering on apple shapes. And they’re comfortable.

Why deprive yourself of the opportunity to look good and feel good?

    • Wear tunics.

Become intimately acquainted with the art of the tunic (hint hint: I help you do that here.)

Tunics are long, and long shirts bring length to our short, round torsos. We need tunics. There’s a good chance your favorite shirt is technically a tunic. Think about it!

    • Pay extra attention to your neckline.

The neckline is the most important part of your shirt and for plus-sized apples, the neckline is your opportunity to draw attention toward all your other features, like your gorgeous hair or beautiful face or great new earrings. Learn about necklines and choose the right ones for apple shapes.

    • Make sure your clothes fit.

too tight clothesAs a plus-size myself, my weight fluctuates a lot. My closet has so many different sizes of clothes, it’s a little ridiculous. For us plus-sizes to feel good and look good in our clothes, they need to fit.

If our clothes are too big: they don’t fit.

If our clothes are too small: they don’t fit.

It’s the goldilocks dilemma to find clothes that fit JUST right…but persist, we must. Plus size apple shaped women aren’t flattered by clothes that are too tight. Clothes that are too big can be even more damaging (think: tent).

I don’t sew. But most dry cleaners offer alterations for a reasonable price. If something doesn’t quite fit, take it there, and get it altered.

Once you get into the habit of getting your clothes altered, you’ll appreciate even more the difference between “almost fits” and “fits just right”. And you’ll feel more empowered.

Common alterations needed for apple shapes:

  • extending the waistband or adding elastic to a waistband
  • shortening the sleeves
  • taking in pants at the calves and ankles
  • taking in pants at the hips
  • taking out dresses at the waist or sides

Get in the mindset of thinking of your clothes as “not quite finished” when they don’t fit you perfectly. Don’t despair over being imperfect because something made in a factory doesn’t fit you perfectly: that’s just bullshit.

But yeah, it’s an emotional thing sometimes. We plus size apple shapes can be so depressed by the prospect of shopping, we forget that the function of these clothes is to serve us and make us look good: not the other way around. We owe no obligation to these fashion designers or even fashion concepts.

We have every right to a) modify what we buy b) return what we don’t like and c) give feedback to the manufacturers so they get it right in the future.

And, maybe someday in the future, the world will collectively agree to revert to how it was done from the cave man days to before the industrial revolution: everyone had a personal tailor. Everything was made to fit a specific individual. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, eh??

    • HAVE FUN.

Fashion isn’t punishment. It’s a chance to celebrate your body. So: try new things! Wear something fun.

Plus size fashion specifically is in its Renaissance. There are some new amazing plus size stores online that sell stuff you wouldn’t have seen anywhere twenty years ago.

Click the photos below for some random, whimsical plus size clothing suggestions from yours truly.

tutu society plus

fun sheer tunic with design

rose swing dress plus size

boho crocheted tunic
I’d love to hear from all the plus size apples! Please leave a comment and share your ideas, questions, or stories!



23 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I love how plus size fashion is kicking in! Everyone should be able to wear whatever they like and have fun! 🙂
    Thanks for this great article Penelope, I love to read your posts and see your fashion recommendation!

    1. Thanks for the comment, feel free to pass onto any of the plus size ladies in your life. And yeah, it’s about damn time these retailers caught up with demand and started making us some good clothes!!

  2. Love all the fashion pictures and how these beautiful gal’s are rocking it! This is an awesome site. Great post!

  3. I love that you explain why we apples should wear layers. I’ve always like layers and it’s a great look. 🙂
    I think accessories are great for changing the look you want to create and it’s also versatile in making an outfit look “new”.

  4. Penelope, where have you been all of my life! 😛

    What an awesome and empowering website! It’s so nice to see such positive suggestions on how to work with what you’ve got. It’s interesting I haven’t really ever thought of layering before but you’ve really opened my eyes to heaps of different combinations and possibilities!

    Now it’s time to go back through that wardrobe and mix and match hey!

    Great site, thanks again 🙂

    1. What a sweet comment, thank you Amanda! I’m glad that the veil has been lifted and you will be a layering ninja in days to come! It really is a trick all of us sizes and shapes can employ. 🙂

  5. Love this! These are very good options and they you explain it is great. Makes me want to forward this to a few friends: emphasizing on the part about “make sure your clothes fit” I’ll just do it. You’re examples look awesome.

    1. Hi Dira, thanks so much for the great comments and I’m glad the post was easy to follow. Thanks for sharing the info with your friends who need it!!

  6. Hi super, you’ve made my day. in fact am really interested about your niche. my wife is plus size and i really cherish them, they are my taste.

    any way you have a nice cloths and all your dress are smart looking.

    i will recommend my wife to visit your website. Kudos

  7. Being plus size myself, fashion is usually a topic that I stay away from completely. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed reading your article and I love your suggestions. I’ve been wanting to make some changes and you may just be the reference I need. I have bookmarked your page and will be checking back with you and spending some time (and probably some money) on your site!

    1. Hi Twila, welcome! I’m so glad you found value in this article. We plus sizes need to stick together! I have lots of suggestions in my blog and pages, and am always happy to answer questions, give examples, or brainstorm. Feel free to sign up for my email list on the sidebar – I publish new articles at least once week.

  8. Hi Penelope,

    What a great selection of plus size fashion. I loved the section on Layering and the images illustrate this point really well. Thanks for a great article and a great site.

  9. I already loved this site, but that bit here about no body shaming and working the shape we’ve been given…gold. I live in a place where we have four seasons in one day, so layering is my absolute favourite thing, but it does take a bit of skill to get it right…and yes, I always forget to accessorise, thanks for the reminder.

    Please keep rolling with the body posi awesome fashion tips!

  10. Hi Penelope!

    I love your blog! The content is much needed in the fashion industry as companies are starting to realize most of us are not like those super models on the runway! I love all the photo references you include. Can’t wait to read more of your posts!


    1. Hi Elva – welcome and thanks so much for the great feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog – keep coming back for more entries like this 🙂

  11. Wow, great tips and ideas about dressing up plus size ladies. Great to read and very efficiently explained. I always love to read your articles because the information you share is always so so useful. Thank you…

  12. Hi Penelope,
    I have just discovered your blog! And as someone mentioned earlier … where have you been all my life! I’m also quite pleased with myself that I have been doing most of your suggestions all on my own.
    I’m 56yrs young and my main problem areas, from a balance perspective, are m inherited double chin ( all the women in my mum’s family have it, thin or curvey!!) and the roll I have between my bust and my waist which is larger than my bust. That roll makes it impossible to wear Empire Lines as I tend to look “overly pregnant”!!.
    I haven’t worn dresses or skirts for over 20yrs. But seeing your ideas about dresses has made me think I should go try on a dress or two.
    Thanks for providing a platform for making our tricky shape seem less difficult to flatter!

    1. Hi Annie – thanks so much for your awesome comment, and I’m also glad you found the blog! AND, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’m happy that you concur with a lot of the suggestions here, from your lifelong experience as a luscious apple. it’s great that you feel inspired to give dresses another whirl. There are many choices beyond the dreaded empire waist. Come back and let us know what you picked and how it worked out!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.