It’s back to first principles as I update the body type dressing guidelines in the context of current fashion trends. I covered the inverted triangle last week, and the adorable apple is next on the list. If you’re unsure of your body type, or new to the concept of body types, then you might want to read my refresher on identifying your body type before tackling this post on the apple shape.
Three important points before I begin:
- These are guidelines, not rules: The information here should be viewed as a helpful starting point when you’re unsure about how to create conventionally flattering and balanced proportions for your shape. Everyone has different figure flattery priorities and sometimes the most stylish outfits ignore the guidelines completely.
- The guidelines are general: My philosophy is to define a few simple body types and then be flexible when working with them. Most of us are a mixture of a few body types and don’t look exactly like one of the 5 prototypical shapes. Filter through the information and use the parts that make sense for your shape.
- There is one rule to keep in mind: Have fun with fashion.
You are an adorable apple when you carry weight around the midsection and are therefore without a prominent waistline. Rectangular body types also don’t have a defined waist, but are straighter all over. Adorable apples are curvier. You usually have relatively slim limbs and hips, and are shorter in the waist. Bust size varies. The petite and regular height apple is quite common, but tall apples do exist.
Many of my clients are apple shaped, or have apple shape tendencies around the midsection despite being primarily another one of the body types. Creating flattering proportions for apples boils down to two main things. One, surrendering the waistline with sufficient structure, and two, cautiously defining the waistline without the cling.
Before we cover silhouettes, a few words on the foundation underneath because it affects the fit of the outer layers. First, wear the best bra. Lifting the bustline defines the ribcage and adds structure to the midsection. Second, wear higher rise trousers and skirts with untucked tops for a girdling effect. Make sure that the waistbands aren’t too tight because that will accentuate muffin top. Shapewear is optional.
Surrender the Waistline with Sufficient Structure
Surrendering the waistline, a little or a lot, is by far the most effective way of drawing attention away from the midsection while you accentuate other parts of the body. It’s just as flattering and a little more on trend than trying to emphasize the waistline.
- Stay away from body con tops and knitted tailored tops because they cling too much.
- Fluid and oversized fits in tops, jackets, dresses and coats are your friend because they float away from the waistline, thereby eliminating cling. Use them to camouflage the midsection while creating structure elsewhere in the outfit, like on the shoulder line, around the hips, through the leg, and on the feet.
- Empire cuts that are gathered at the waist are fine when they lie flat in soft draping fabrics. As soon as the gathers pouf out too much they tend to accentuate the belly area, making the item look like maternity wear when you are not pregnant.
- Empire cuts that are cut straight at the waist (no gathers), work well in stiff fabrications that provide structure. They tend to cling in soft fabrications.
- Cocoon shaped banded tops with welts are brilliant for apple shapes. I am constantly looking for these types of tops for my apple shaped clients. Think wovens, knits and knitwear in this silhouette and wear them with straight legs, bootcuts or wider trouser legs.
- Do not wear formfitting knitwear. Instead, wear knitwear that is fluid or oversized on the midsection and has a welt. The welt reins back in the volume, providing structure that goes a long way to defining your shape.
- Roomy knitwear with high-low hemlines is another great option. They aren’t as tight as a welt, but provide enough structure that you’re not drowning in the style. Don’t wear these tops too long when you’re petite. Choose a lower neckline, scoop or V, if you have a shorter neck.
- The upscale sweatshirt styles with raglan sleeves that are fashionable at the moment are also flattering because they balloon out on the belly area but taper back in on the hip for structure. Choose a high neckline for a narrow shoulder line because it adds structure, and a lower neckline for a regular or broader shoulder line.
- Dropped shoulder seams are fine as long as the sleeves are tailored. If the sleeves are wide, wear them shorter to expose the forearm, because a visible forearm adds structure to the outfit.
- Swingy tunics and trapeze silhouettes in soft fabrications with tailored shoulders that drape with asymmetrical hemlines are very flattering. Volume in the right place is your friend.
- Stiff and unstructured button-down tunics with high-low hemlines work well when you’re tall. Scrunch long sleeves for structure.
- Loose and soft drape-front, woven blouses that cross over in front are another fab style. Wear them untucked over straight or bootcut bottoms.
- Crisp button-down shirts and classic soft blouses work well in fluid fits when they are partially tucked in front into roomier bottoms and worn with a belt. Here, you can wear the rise of the jeans or trousers a little lower because you’ll be creating tucked volume on top. Belting sounds counterintuitive because it accentuates the waistline, but the fluid fit of the top creates a flattering voluminous blouson effect over the midsection, while the belt, which is worn lower on the hip, provides the structure.
- Partially tucking the right roomy blouse, shirt, knit top or pullover into roomier bottoms like slim-fit boyfriend jeans has been a revelation for my apple shaped clients so please try this trick. You don’t need to wear untucked tops all the time.
Dresses and Coats
- Sack dresses or shifts — straight or A-line in silhouette, sleeveless or slim in the sleeves, structured in the shoulders with a scooped neckline, and fairly short in length — work well. Fabrics can be soft if they float sufficiently away from the body. Stiffer fabrics are excellent when they are cut a little closer to the body.
- Wear cocoon shaped sweater dresses and coats because they are voluminous and structured in just the right way.
Jackets and Blazers
- One of the best jacket styles on a petite apple with a short neck and larger bust is a short and fairly boxy collarless jacket in a soft or hard fabrication. Leave the front open to create a slimming line down the front of the body.
- Wear boyfriend blazers with scrunched sleeves in soft fabrications. Again, leave the front open to create a slimming line down the front of the body.
- Moto jackets are excellent when worn open because the silhouette glides over the curves of the midsection, thereby creating structure but no cling.
- Bomber jackets worn open are excellent because they are short and cocoon shaped, creating a slimming line down the front of the body.
- Longer, avant-garde jacket styles and cardigans with cascading drape fronts and asymmetrical hemlines work because they are voluminous on the midsection. Don’t wear them too long if you’re petite. But wearing them too short won’t work either because they’ll make you look top heavy and stumpy.
Define the Waistline without the Cling
It’s harder to create a flattering silhouette by defining the waist on an apple shaped body because fitted pieces tend to cling and showcase lumpage and bumpage. That said, waist definition is achievable if you proceed with caution. Also, the ease with which you’re able to define your waist depends on how apple shaped you are. If you’re an extreme apple, it’s harder.
- Even if you’re small in the chest, you’ll look good with low-ish necklines like V’s, scooped necks, cowl necks, open shirt collars and boat necks because they elongate the torso.
- Wrap tops, mock wrap tops, tops with front/side ruching, and tops with front knot detailing are flattering when they’re slightly fluid. The strategically placed folds create forgiving curvature over the midsection.
- Peplum tops can work surprisingly well when the waist hits you around the navel. The peplum camouflages any extra bits around the midsection.
- Wearing tailored pieces over voluminous pieces is probably the best way to effectively define the apple shaped waist. For example, layer a tailored woven jacket over a soft untucked top or dress that floats away from the waist. That way you create waist definition on the sides of the body, without the cling in front. Waistcoats and cardigans can have similar tailored effects, but aren’t quite as structured. Unfortunately this strategy requires cooler weather but it’s hands down the most effective.
- Look for tops with sleeve detail, like flares, slits, gathers, embroideries and cuff treatment, because this will attract attention to your arms and away from your midsection. Wear voluminous sleeves shorter for extra structure.
- If you’re not an extreme apple, tailored woven tops like shirts and shells can work because the rigidity of formfitting garments made of woven fabric skims the contours of the body instead of clinging to it like jersey knits do.
- The length of your tops should catch you just below your hipbone or a few inches above crotch point when you wear jeans or pants.
- Sometimes tucking tops into a fairly high rise pencil skirt has a flattering girdling effect, so don’t shy away from tucking tops into skirts.
Dresses and Coats
- Bias-cut dresses and weighty jersey dresses with front knot under bust detailing are good options because they create a waistline but skim over the extra bits.
- If you’re not an extreme apple, classic wrap dresses can work too.
- Dresses with centre front ruffle details and mock wraps with plenty of side seam rushing will also work.
- Fit-and-flare dresses are lovely when the waist is not too tight, hit the midsection in the right spot, and the fabric does not cling. Adding a wide low-contrast belt for girdling structure is an option.
- Belted trenches and classic single-breasted coats with tailored lapels and fairly low stances look great because the fabrics are woven and rigid providing ample skimming integrity and no cling.
Jackets and Blazers
- You look great in single-breasted structured jackets that are hip-bone length and nipped in at the waist if you wear a fluid untucked top underneath them. V-shaped lapels that button below the bustline are fab because the “V-shape” that is created in front of the body has an hourglass effect. Leave the jacket open. Stay away from stances that are too high.
- Wear a column of colour under a topper to create a long lean line that is extra slimming.
- Tops and dresses in patterns and with texture have better “camouflaging capabilities” than solid colors.
- Fine gauge knits are best because they aren’t bulky. Opt for semi-chunky styles if you prefer warmer and more substantial sweaters. Chunky knits work in darker colours and in structured silhouettes with a more open neckline.
If you’re not an extreme apple with a very short waist, try to find your sweet spot with a waist defining belt. It’s often a little higher than your natural waistline so that your belt hits the smallest part of your torso. Try belting a woven blouse or tunic over a pencil skirt or pair of pants with a part elastic belt. The woven top won’t cling and the stretchy belt provides comfort as you move through the day.
Balance out Proportions with a Little Volume on Bottom
- Structured pencil skirts are fantastic on your frame because they provide structure. Keep the side seam cut straight down from the hip or a little tapered. Bias-cut skirts, trumpet skirts, and flared paneled skirts are also good choices.
- Stay away from overly flared elasticated pleated skirts or flared styles with gathered waistbands because they pouf out too much.
- Sometimes skirts can be more flattering than pants and walk shorts, especially when they are pencil shaped. They elongate the leg line and break up the torso, which looks attractive.
- Stay away from trouser styles with waist and hip pleats unless the fabric is very soft.
- Flat fronted trouser styles with some stretch, a structured wide waistband, and a higher rise are fab in straight and bootcut styles. Wider legs can work, but watch the volume if you’re petite.
- Skinnies can work, especially with flats or tucked into tall boots. Try a little extra scrunch or opt for a straight leg to balance out proportions. That way you won’t be over-accentuating your slim legs and look like you’re toppling over.
- Cropped skinnies are fine with a heel, or with flats if you stick to low-contrast dressing.
- Slim-fit boyfriend jeans, relaxed skinnies, or fluid chinos with rolled hems are great. Wear them with a roomy, partially tucked top.
- Trendy upscale track pants and harem silhouettes in knits and wovens are excellent when worn with an untucked fluid or oversized top with a welt for structure.
- Knee-length walk shorts are great. You might prefer them to sleek clamdiggers because they add volume to your hips and thighs.
- You rock a pair of cargo pocket pants as long as the fronts are flat. I vote soft silky fabrications, but rigid cottons will also work.
Please share your own tips on how to flatter the apple shaped body type in the comments section. If there are additional questions on how to wear particular looks and trends, please ask below and we’ll get you sorted.