The most flattering dresses for apple shaped women in 2024

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Updated:

January 31, 2024

If you have an apple body shape, you probably struggle to find dresses that fit both your top and bottom (they're always too loose on your hips if they fit your shoulders), and if you do find a dress to fit you, you lose all your curves and your waist doesn't appear to be defined.

Well, if any of those frustrations sound all too familiar to you, you are in the right place!  

I’m a Personal Stylist and for the past 17 years I have been sourcing gorgeous capsule collections for apple shaped women like you in the UK and USA, that make them look and feel amazing.  

So, I know exactly which dresses will fit you the best and will look the best on your apple body shape.

This post not only shares my tried and tested tips for choosing dresses for an apple body shape; I also show you over 100 (yes - 100!!!!) dresses that look good on an apple body shape, and after you've finished reading it you will...

  • Know what to look for and what to avoid when choosing a dress for your apple shape
  • Know which details work best for you (and why)
  • Know which dress styles will fit you the best (and why!)
  • And you'll know which dresses work for you this season!

More importantly, you'll be able to make a more educated decision about the dresses you choose to wear, which means that shopping and getting dressed will become easier and more enjoyable!

This is quite an in-depth post, so if you’re looking for something in particular check out my table of contents below and skip straight to the answer👇

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product via these links I will earn a small commission. This does NOT make the price higher for you, and I NEVER link to products that I wouldn’t recommend to my clients, or purchase myself. 

What is an apple body shape?

Before you begin looking for dresses for your apple shape, it's a good idea to check that you do in fact have an apple shape!  Because if you don't, my tips and advice in this post probably won't help you.  

I've listed the core characteristics of an apple body shape below, so read through those and check that your shape aligns with them before going any further.

Apple body-shape characteristics

apple body shape
  • When you put weight on you typically carry it around your middle, upper and bosom
  • Your shoulders are broader than your hips
  • You often wear a larger clothing size on your top half, than you wear on your bottom half
  • You have an average to large bust size
  • You have a small or flat bottom
  • You have great legs!
  • And your waistline isn't as defined as you would like

Some of the characteristics listed overlap with other body shapes, most notably the column/rectangle body shape, and the hourglass body shape.  

So if you only recognize some of those characteristics, it might be that your shape aligns with a different body shape.   

If that's the case, here 3 things you can do to figure out exactly what your body shape is:

4 ways to find out what your body shape is

what to look for and what to avoid when choosing dresses for an apple body shape

An apple body shape looks absolutely gorgeous in a dress, it’s just that right now, you don't know what to look for (or what to avoid)!

You’re choosing dresses that you like the idea of, or that look great on someone else, but you aren’t considering what the shape of the dress will look like on your shape, so the dresses often don't fit right, or don't look as good on you as you had hoped they would.

Here are some key things things to look for and to avoid so you can start to choose dresses that DO look good on you:

apple shapes should wear dresses that:

  • Have low necklines that narrow your broad shoulders to balance your hips, and draw the eye down to your great legs
  • Add shape or volume below your waistline to create a curvier bottom half and a more defined waist
  • Have structure and shape that creates curves
  • Show off your great legs

apple  shapes should avoid dresses that:

  • Have volume at the shoulders that broadens your shoulders and makes you look more top heavy
  • Make your hips look narrower
  • Hide your waist and shape, making you look larger than you are
  • Shorten your legs, making your top half look larger than it is
  • And add weight to your middle

15 things to consider when choosing a dress for an apple body shape

1

choose dresses that have an empire waist

An empire waist is a waistband that sits right under the bust, this is typically the narrowest point on most body shapes.  

By choosing a dress that has an empire waist, you will be drawing the eye to a narrower part of your frame, which will give you a curvier silhouette and a more defined waistline.  It will also draw the eye up and away from your middle.  

Oh, and they also elongate the legs.  They’re quite possibly the most flattering style of dress for any woman!  This dress is a great example of an empire waist dress

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2

opt for low necklines

A low neckline will draw the eye in and down, which helps to slim and narrow a broad shoulders.  Other great necklines are scoop, plunging and sweetheart necklines.

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3

look for dresses that have volume below the waistline

As an apple body shape, your hips are narrower than your shoulders.  If you want to create a more balanced frame, you need to broaden your hips a little, which in turn will balance your shoulders.

Dress styles that have volume below the waist are one of the best ways to do that - they'll add weight to your hips and butt to broaden them and balance your shoulders.  They also create a curvier silhouette that has a more defined waistline.

The most flattering style of dress like this, is one that tapers in towards the bottom, the perfect examples being a tulip skirt like this dress, or a wrap skirt like this dress.

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4

dresses that cinch you in are the perfect match

I know that apple shaped women have a tendency to avoid dresses that have waist detailing or belts, for fear that they highlight their lack of waste definition, but that fear is unfounded! 

Waistbands, waist ties and any other form of structure or detailing that cinches you in at the waist, or suggests a waist, will make your waist look MORE defined than it is, not less.

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5

look for dresses with a peplum

A peplum (also referred to as an ‘overskirt’) is:

“a flared ruffle sewn into the waistline of a blouse, skirt, jacket, or dress to add extra frill and accentuate the waist” - Masterclass.com  

Peplum dresses are my absolute favorite items of clothing for creating a more defined waistline on apple body shapes.  This is the perfect example of a peplum dress.

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6

choose a wrap dress

I love a wrap dress on an apple body shape - the low, wrap neckline will narrow your broad shoulders and flatter your middle.  And the tie waist will cinch you in to create a more defined waistline.

The best wrap dress styles for an apple body shape are styles that have a fuller skirt - something with ruffles like this will be great, or something that has a tulip style skirt like this.  

A wrap dress with a straight skirt will be the least flattering, but it will still look good!   You really can't go wrong with this style of dress.

7

use color blocking to create the illusion of a waist

Color blocking is the use of contrasting (or bold) panels to create shape and interest in a garment. 

 It’s a powerful tool for creating the illusion of a super curvy silhouette, and so it's a great option for anyone who wants to look like they have a more defined waistline, or a narrower top half. 

These dresses are great examples of color blocking being used to create a curvy frame:

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8

show off your legs

Apple shapes typically have great legs, so why not show them off!  Opt for dresses with a slit, or choose a shorter hemline. 

The best way to disguise the areas you don’t like, is to draw the attention to the areas you do like!

9

look for structure and shaping

If the dress has structure and shaping, it will give you structure and shaping.  The dresses below are all perfect examples of a structured dress that will look stunning on an apple body shape.

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10

belt it

The addition of a waist belt to a dress, will give you a more defined waistline and create an overall curvier silhouette.

If you worry that a belt shortens your torso, or makes your bust look larger, avoid a wide belt and opt for a skinny/narrow belt instead.

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Accessories play a crucial role in pulling together a flattering outfit.

I’ve talked about waist belts already, but the other accessories worth making use of are long skinny scarves and long, pendant necklaces - both of these will draw the eye in and down to narrow your torso.

12

avoid a dropped waist

A dropped waist sits below the waist (obvs!) and draws a line across a narrower part of an apple body shape.  All this does is highlight your narrow hips and thighs, and enhance your broader top half.

13

avoid shapeless dresses

Dresses that have no shape will make you look shapeless.  they hide any curves you have and make you look larger than you are.  

Sometimes you can belt a loose fitting dress to create some shape, but it's never going to be a very flattering style of dress on an apple shape.

14

high necklines add weight

High necklines do the opposite of a low neckline, they can make shoulders appear broader, a bust look larger and a torso look wider.

15

stay away from puff sleeves and shoulder pads

If the sleeves or shoulders have pleating, ruffles, or a puff, they will make your shoulders look broader than they are, which may make you look top heavy or larger than you are on-top.  

You can mitigate this a little if the dress also has a plunging neckline, but if you find yourself focusing on your broad shoulders, it’s probably a good idea to avoid a puff sleeve all together.

16 - bonus tip!

make sure the fit is correct

Well fitting clothing is the most flattering type of clothing, so it's super important that your clothes fit you properly.    

If you need some pointers on what to check when you’re looking at the fit of a garment, this blog post shares the 8 most important areas to check, and it also has a free checklist you can download and take shopping with you.

Looking for the perfect cocktail dress for your apple shape?

This blog post shares my tried and tested tips to finding the perfect party dress for your apple body shape, as well as my favorite cocktail dresses for apple shapes in 2024!

  Read the post 

the 9 most flattering dress styles for an apple body shape

These 9 dresses are the most flattering dress styles for an apple body shape.  

They will balance your top heavy frame, create a curvier silhouette, and fit you on both the top and bottom!

9 flattering dress styles for an apple body shape

1

trumpet hem dress

Dresses that have a kick flare, trumpet hem, or mermaid hem are really flattering on an apple body shape.  They hug the hips and thighs, and flare out at the hem to create a curvier bottom half.

2

bias cut dress

Bias cut dresses are a fantastic way to create curves.    The bias cut contours and enhances your shape to create a defined waistline and a curvier butt and hips.

3

empire waist dress

An empire waist will draw attention to your narrowest point, just under your bust, which will make your torso look narrower and your legs longer.

4

blazer dress / tuxedo dress

Tuxedo dresses are fantastic on an apple shape.  They have wonderful structure that cinches in the waist and creates curves.

They have a low neckline that narrows your shoulders and torso, and they have pockets and buttons across the hips that add a little volume and interest for a curvier bottom half.  This is a perfect example.

5

v-neck a-line dress

A-line styles hug the waist and flare out below the waistline to elongate the legs, this will balance your broader shoulders and create a more defined waistline.

Make sure you choose a style with a low neckline so it flatters and fits your bust.

6

tulip dress

These are another of my favorite dress styles for apple body shapes.  

A tulip dress will hug the waist and add a little volume below the waistline and across the hips and thighs create a curvier bottom half which will balance your top half and create a more defined waistline.

7

shift dress

A shift dress looks great on an apple shape (if it has a low neckline!), for extra points choose a shift that has some shaping at the waist to give you some waist definition.

8

WRAP dress

A  wrap dress is a great choice for apple shapes.  The neckline will narrow your shoulders and flatter your bust and middle, and the tie waist will give you a more defined waistline.

Look for wrap dresses that have a ruffled skirt that adds a little volume around your hips and butt - it will create a curvier silhouette and make your waist look more defined.

9

peplum dress

A peplum dress is THE BEST dress style for an apple body shape.  The narrow, structured fit will enhance your curves, and the fluted skirt that sits below the waist (the peplum) will enhance your waist.

Don't like those dress styles?

I realize that you may not like some of the clothing styles that work for your apple body shape, and that you might really want to wear dresses that have puff sleeves or high necklines, so I want to caveat what I've just written, by saying that the above is just a guide.  

The dress styles listed above WILL fit and flatter your shape, but there is almost always some styling technique or style hack that will help you to make an unflattering item of clothing, look better on you, so play around and experiment.

And if you want some guidance on how to improve the look of an item of clothing that doesn't look good on your apple body-shape, pop on over to this post - it shares a multitude of styling techniques to try!

Looking for more help dressing your apple shape?

My easy to use guide will show you exactly which clothes work best for your body-shape, so you can enjoy getting dressed!

the best dress styles for apple body shapes in 2023

All these dresses will fit you top and bottom, narrow your broad shoulders and create a curvier silhouette.

The best casual dresses for an apple body shape in 2023

Looking for the best casual dresses for your apple body shape?  I've got you!  These are my favorite options in 2023

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The best maxi dresses for an apple body shape in 2023

These are the best long dresses and the bet maxi dresses for an apple shaped body in 2023

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The 9 best dresses for an apple body shape

Don't like those dress styles listed above?

The best wrap dresses for an apple body shape in 2023

Wrap dresses look fantastic on an apple body shape, and they fit you so well, too!  Here are the my top picks for wrap shaped dresses for apple body shapes in 2023

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The best party dresses for an apple body shape in 2023

2023 has some gorgeous part dresses for an apple body shape!

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The best Mother of the bride / mother of the groom  dresses for an apple body shape in 2023

There are some gorgeous dress options for the Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom in 2023:

dress

The best wedding guest dresses for an apple body shape in 2023

Here are my top picks for wedding guest dresses for an apple body shape in 2023

dresses

The best summer dresses for an apple body shape in 2023

Here are my top picks for summer dresses for an apple body shape in 2023

summer

frequently asked questions about dresses for apple body shapes

Below are some other questions I get asked about choosing dresses for an apple body shape.  If you have any others, let me know by getting in touch here.

what style of dress looks best on an apple body shape?

The best dress style for an apple body shape is a tulip dress with a low neckline.  This is my absolute favorite style of dress on an apple shape because:

  • The low neckline will narrow your broad shoulders and flatter your bust
  • They have a defined waist that gives you some definition at your waist
  • And (my favorite detail) they have volume and shaping below the waist that adds a little volume and shaping to your hips and butt that creates a curvier bottom half, a more defined waistline, and a more balanced frame!

Here are my 3 top tulip dress for an apple body shape:

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Want more tips?

Get my Simple Guide To Dressing An Apple Shape for only  $65!  It will show you exactly what the most and least flattering clothes are for your pear body-shape, so you have some easy rules to follow!

is an inverted triangle the same as an apple shape?

Yes, apple shape and inverted triangle are two different names for the same shape.

And apple shape will carry a little more weight around her middle than an inverted triangle does, but their core characteristics are the same.

can an apple body shape wear jumpsuits?

An apple body shape can absolutely wear jumpsuits, however, you may struggle to find a jumpsuit that is short enough in the body for you, as apple shapes typically have a shorter torso.

If this is the case, try choosing a jumpsuit from a petite range  - this will be cut shorter in the body than a standard jumpsuits.  

BUT, this will only be a solution if you are 5”4 or under.  Any taller and the entire jumpsuit will look too short.

The other option is to go for matching separates. You can purchase 2 different sizes and wear them together.  No one need know it isn't a jumpsuit.

the best jumpsuits for an apple shaped body in 2023

jumpsuits

What should and apple shape not wear?

I don’t like to set hard and fast rules for dressing as it can feel restricting but, at the same time, I do know that it’s helpful to have some guidelines to draw from when choosing what to wear. 

So, here are some dress styles that you might want to avoid if you have an apple body shape:

Tight tube dresses
These hug and highlight narrow hips and offer no shaping at all, so they may make your narrow hips look more narrow. 

And if this happens your top half will look broader, and your overall shape will look less balanced.

Dresses that have a pleated skirt
These are pretty unforgiving on most body shapes, but particularly if you carry weight around your tummy and middle because all those little pleats that sit at the waistband will add bulk around your middle.

Shapeless tunic dresses
These will swamp your frame, hide your waist, and make you appear more top heavy than you are.  

Dresses that have statement shoulders or puff sleeves
Statement shoulders or puff sleeves will add weight to your shoulders, making them appear wider, and your hips narrower.  So you end up looking top heavy.  

Oversized dresses
These will swamp you and hide your gorgeous shape.  

You can improve the look by wrapping a belt around your waist, but the volume may make you feel heavier than you are.

can an apple wear high waisted?

Yes, an apple body shape can wear a high-waisted dress - it will elongate your legs and draw the eye to a narrower part of your frame.  An Empire waist dress will be the best high-waist dress style for an apple shape.

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Hi, I'm Niki

author and personal stylist

Over the past 18 years I’ve freed thousands of women from the frustration of disappointing outfits, by showing them how to dress to make the most of their shape, and helping them build a closet that's easy to use and fun to wear.  My blog shares the tried and true tips and knowledge I've developed, to help you stop wasting money on disappointing clothes, and build a closet you enjoy wearing.


You can find out more about Niki here

And you can get in touch with Niki here