Swimwear and Swimsuits for Apple Shapes

Swimsuits! Bikinis! Tankinis! EEKINIS!

Where to start? Well, if you’re an apple-shaped woman of the apple-teenie variety, good news: you can wear whatever you want.

Check out Kate Upton, apple-teenie in a bikini:

Yes, she has a waist, but it isn’t prominent. Her shoulders are broader than her hips, her belly is round, her face is round, and her legs and arms are thin. Apple-teenies can wear bikinis and show off that round tummy.

Well, technically, anybody can wear a bikini. It’s all a question of comfort, and how you feel. There have been waves lately in the plus-sized community over the “fatkini”, and many plus-sized women reclaiming their right to wear this iconic article of clothing. The first rule of fashion is if you feel good wearing it, and if you feel free wearing it, you can wear it.

What about the rest of us?

The rest of us wear one-pieces and tankinis.

When we’re out on the beach, or at the pool, or even just sunning, we want to be comfortable.

We want to feel the sun and water on our bodies and enjoy our friends and family, our picnics and our booze and our lemonade.

We don’t want to spend the whole time internally paranoid, worrying that people are looking at us in a negative way, or questioning our bodies or our swimwear choices.

There will always be haters, yes, but we don’t have to bait them. Critically, we don’t want to end up on someone’s nasty hateful website as an example of what not to wear. Plus size bathing suits in particular can be prey to this particular hate crime.

Bathing suits for apple shaped women can be mysterious and frustrating: after this article you will have solid ideas to help when you’re shopping for a new one.

Swimsuits are Revealing

Swimwear is a personal thing, because it’s nearly as revealing of our flesh as lingerie, and yet we wear it for the whole world to view.

We put ourselves on display while we’re having a good time. This display has become part of our culture, for good.

The beach is truly a “meat market“, and the flexing and showing off of our flesh and wearing extremely suggestive, skimpy swimsuits isn’t going away – it’s our normal.

But we apple shapes have a choice on how to participate in this, and most importantly, we have a right to be out there at the pool and on the beach and in our lawnchairs in the sun!

And we should NEVER be afraid to wear a swimsuit, at any age or any size. There are swimsuits for everyone that look GOOD on everyone.

Good Necklines

For one pieces and tankinis, favor styles with necklines that draw attention up toward the face and shoulders.

The best necklines for this purpose are:

  • v-necks
  • scoop necks
  • bandeaus
  • halters.

There are other strategies for apple shaped swimsuits, using print and color!

Solid color swimsuits are good as long as there’s no color block around the waist–  this will just draw attention to that area. Solid dark colors can be elongating and flattering on our torsos.

Prints are good

Prints can work as a kind of camouflage, especially prints that are all over the entire swimsuit and not just in one area.

Prints with a lot of contrast, such as animal prints, prints with black and white, or prints that feature bold complementary colors, are best.

Ruching is a big fat YES

Ruching is your friend in tops, dresses, and wedding dresses for apple shapes: and ruching is your friend in swimsuits, too.

Ruching creates a “wrinkle” effect by bunching or gathering up a top layer of fabric.

While it draws the eye, it paradoxically makes our tummies look smaller, because it creates the impression that our bodies don’t completely fill out the swimsuit.

Swimsuit Skirts are a Yes.

Swimsuits with built-in skirts can be an apple’s best friend, because it creates the illusion of more hips/booty flaring away from the middle. This can be helpful for disguising or minimizing our lower belly pooch. It also can just feel more comfortable, for those of us who prefer more coverage.

Approach These Styles With Extreme Caution

Empire Waists

Empire waist swimsuits can be dangerous, especially ones without a skirt – they can overemphasize our tummies and lead us into the trap of looking pregnant.

Use extreme caution when selecting an empire-waist swimsuit. Get feedback from several people before you wear it out in public.


Swimsuits with cut-outs around the sides or belly should be avoided, because they will visually draw attention to the middle.

Even if your sides are slim or if it looks cute from SOME angles, it’s almost certainly a bad call for an apple shape.


The model here is a plus-sized hourglass and can get away with this specific look.

Also, with these kind of swimsuits, you get a really WEIRD tan!

Brief Placement On Hips

Swimsuits with really high rises on the hips and thighs can be bad for apple shapes, because they won’t completely cover our lower bellies.

Obviously, Borat illustrates an extreme example (and on a dude)…but you get my point.

No super high rise swimwear if your belly hangs or droops or pooches out. Or if you’re a dude.

Budget Swimwear For Apple Shape: My Recommendations

AliExpress has some phenomenal details on swimwear. All of the images in this article have links that you can click over to the store. If you’re looking for a new swimsuit and you don’t want to spend a lot, check it out and get a head start on your summer vacation or cruise attire planning!

Most of the ones I’ve featured are under $20, astonishingly.

The best thing about AliExpress is that most of these suits are available S-4XL, and I’ve even seem some 5XL and 6XL options, which is fantastic. More for everyone!

If you’re a professional swimmer, it might make more sense to invest in a swimsuit that’s built to last you through tons of swimming (like Speedo, for example).

But for fashion and casual sunbathing/pool-sitting/beach-going (which is probably most of us) all the ones I’ve placed here are really quite spectacular for apple shapes looking to relax in style.

Any thoughts about swimsuits to share? Love ’em, hate ’em, curious about trying something new? As always, please check out my pinterest, where I’ve assembled SO MANY SWIMSUITS for apple shapes.

Yours on the beach and beyond,


17 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Great advice here for anyone with this type of shape. I have to say I find ruched swimsuits really flattering for my shape and they do hide my tummy as much as it can be hidden! I would definitely give the cutout options a miss, I don’t think they flatter anyone even the teenies! I also don’t like skirts but that is just me! My vote would be for the ruched swimsuits!

    1. Hi Jennie – thanks for the feedback. Yeah, the cutouts are kinda weird, I’ve never been a fan but seeing them more and more lately, and wanted to make sure my apple nation knew they are NOT for us 🙂 And yeah, ruching is just so darn flattering, I love it!

  2. Greetings,

    I’m ashamed to admit this, but I tend to avoid the beach just so I don’t have to be seen wearing a swimsuit. I would definitely be “internally paranoid”. I do engage in lap swimming at a local pool, but my mindset is focused on swimming not showcasing, so I don’t feel so weird.

    I liked some of the styles you reviewed; I don’t think I would have considered ruching before, and I think I would have avoided prints, so that already gives me more options! I guess I still have a lot to learn in terms of finding the right swimsuit.

    Great article, Penelope. More apples please!

    1. Hi Veronica – thanks for the great feedback. I’m glad you at least get in some time at the pool, and maybe a new swimsuit can be your battle armor at the beach. Definitely give ruching a shot if you haven’t already; it’s pretty much universally flattering.

      Here’s what I would do: order 3 that you like, try them all on, and return the two that are least flattering. That way you have options to chose from and can see how the different cuts and styles work on you!

  3. You are saving my life, and the eyes of those around me! I am HOOKED on your articles!

    Embarrassing question though. What’s an empire waist? (I want to make sure I avoid that.) In the mean time, I’ll be returning that high rising one-piece that I bought my husband. Heehee!!!

    Thanks Penelope!

    1. Hahaha, I’m so glad you’re enjoying this. And yesh, we don’t want the men of the world pulling a Borat out in public!!!
      Empire waists have a high waist, just under the bust, and then are fitted or flare out under. They draw attention to the middle and are really only flattering on people with waists. We can roll with “loose” empire waists in dresses, but there is no such thing in swimwear. Here’s an example.

  4. I personally absolutely love ruching. It looks great, feels great, AND makes me feel great. Finding a swimsuit that makes me feel comfortable is so rare, yet when I do it is wonderful. I can’t tell you how many times I have spent a day at the beach but wasn’t able to relax because I chose the wrong suit. Great tips and recommendations.. I WILL be checking some of these out.

    1. Hi Jen – thanks so much for the great feedback. I’m glad you’re already acquainted with the magic of ruching! And yes, it’s so critical to feel comfortable before we leave the house. Happy shopping! -Penelope

  5. I totally agree with “if you feel good wearing it, you can wear it!”.
    Ali-express has so many cool swimwear but how can I know if the size is right for me? I don’t want to buy something and then discover that it’s too small or too big…

    1. Hi Paulina! Thanks for the great question. Most of the swimsuits that I posted are available in sizes small through 4x or 5x! Which means you can probably find one that fits you pretty easily. If you need a new, affordable swimsuit, I highly recommend checking out Ali-express.

  6. My weight fluctuates so I feel that the ruching is the best for me. I don’t like one-pieces generally but since the ruffin is so old-school retro and pin-uppy I can imagine feeling confident and sexy wearing it in public. I wonder if a ruching but with a print pattern would be too much though.

    I haven’t ordered from AliExpress and I’m impressed with the selection. I’m just wondering if you have to be careful and double-check the sizes and measurements because when I previously ordered lingerie on Ebay, they were in Asian sizes so they tend to run really, really, small and I essentially had to throw them out.

    What do you think of swimwear shorts for apple shapes?

    1. That’s a great question, ruching with a print. I think it would have to be a fairly small, uniform print so none of the design was obscured by the wrinkles. I will go on a quest to find one, they have to exist! AliExpress does offer size charts, and those numbers will tell you whether something is a US Large or an Asian 3X. I completely know what you’re talking about there 🙂

      Swimwear shorts are cute but it depends on how flat/tiny the apple booty is. Sometimes the shorts draw attention to the butt rather than the legs, and so I think it has to be a case-by-case basis unfortunately.

      thanks for the thoughtful questions and feedback!!

  7. All your articles are so informative, Penelope. I find myself reading and nodding my head with every post, so thanks for you humorous and sensitive writing on a subject that makes most of us feel self-conscious – our bodies. Your swim wear suggestions are excellent. A ruched model is the one for me!

  8. All of these tips assume that if you’re apple shaped, you also have large breasts. I have a round tummy, broad shoulders, and small breasts. I am also not plus sized. Unfortunately, none of these will work for me.

    1. Not all of them assume large breasts – plenty of these swimsuits, especially the empire waist examples, will look good on smaller breasted women. Thanks for sharing your candid feedback!

  9. Oh Wow, I am not a person with good fashion sense. You articles help me a lot in understanding proper dressing as per our body shape and now swim suits as well. This is such a great information to wear swimsuits also according to our body shape.

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