The Best Party Dresses For Apple Shaped Women In 2024

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January 31, 2024

As an apple shape, it can often be difficult to find a party dress that you love wearing, that fits well and doesn't make you feel un-curvy or top-heavy.

Typically, if a dress fits your top half, it's a little loose around your hips and thighs.

But if the cocktail dress fits your hips and thighs well, it's invariably too tight across your shoulders and bust.

It's extremely frustrating, but it shouldn't be!

You have a beautiful shape with strong broad shoulders and fantastic legs, and you deserve to wear a dress that shows off your best features...and I know exactly which dresses will do just that.

I'm a personal stylist, and for the past 18 years I've helped hundreds of apple-shaped women find dresses they love, so I know exactly which dresses will work for you, and I know where to get them from!

I've actually written a comprehensive article about choosing the best dresses for an apple body shape over here, but after numerous requests for help choosing a cocktail dress for an apple shape, I thought it would be useful to write a separate post on this, to help you find the perfect dresses for your apple shape here we are!

These are my tried and tested tips for choosing the right dress for your apple shape, and my top 10 formal dresses for an apple body shape in 2024.

So accept that invite you've been avoiding, and walk into the party feeling beautiful and confident!

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. 

Want a quick answer?

These are my 3  favorite apple shape party dresses in 2024

A sequin shift dress with a plunging neckline and long sleeves, that is the perfect shape for an apple shape women

floral sequin mini dress


Shift dresses work really well on an apple body shape, because their shape mirrors your shape.

This dress has a plunging neckline that will fit your top half well, and will help to narrow your broad shoulders to create a more balanced frame.

A peacock green velvet maxi dress with a v neckline and long sleeves that would look gorgeous on an apple shaped woman

pleated front dress


Dresses that have ruching and shaping will create curves and shaping on an apple body shape. 

This dress has that in spades, as well as a low neckline that will fit well and flatter your bust and broad torso.

And velvet is one of the must have fabrics of the season, so this is a BIG win!

A red velvet dress with a mermaid skirt and sweetheart neckline, making it the perfect dress for an apple shaped woman

Velvet bryson dress


I love this dress for apple shaped women!

The sweetheart neckline will fit and flatter your large bust and broad torso, the waistline will give you a little definition around your waist, and the pretty flared hem will create a curvy silhouette.

what is an apple body shape?

Are you sure you have an apple-shaped body?

Because if not, there's a chance that the tips and info in this post won't help you, or worse still, might make you even more confused about dressing your shape. 

Before you scroll down to read my tips, have a quick look through the most common characteristics of apple-shaped bodies and check that your shape aligns.

3 different images of an apple body shape

these are the core charecteristics of an 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, so your upper body might look larger than your lower body
  • 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!
  • Your waistline isn't as defined as you would like

I want to point out here that your size doesn't determine your body shape.

It's a misconception that all apple shaped women are large and have a tummy - you can be a size 2 and have an apple body shape, and you can be a size 18 and have an apple body shape.  

It’s also important to note here that your body shape might align with two body types .

If you recognize most of those characteristics but not all of them, there’s a chance that your primary body shape is an apple shape, but that you overlap with another shape - this is typically an hourglass shape or a column shape.

If you don’t recognize many of those characteristics, you probably don’t have an apple shape.

If that’s the case, I recommend you take my free body-shape quiz to find out which of the other 4 primary body types your shape aligns with the most.

The key thing to remember here is that whilst knowing what your body shape will help you to narrow down your research when looking for clothing styles that work for you; ultimately, the most important thing is to have a really good understanding of your shapes proportions and unique characteristics.  

This is the knowledge that will ultimately help you to choose clothes that fit you and feel comfortable on.

4 resources to help you learn more about your body-shape

  • I have created a FREE body-shape quiz here, to help you get clearer on what your primary body shape might be.
  • This blog post shares some of the reasons why you might be struggling to work out what your shape is, and gives you 3 simple exercises to do to help you learn more about your shape.
  • This blog post, shares an overview of the 4 primary body types.
  • You can purchase a Body Shape Analysis from me, for only $27, and I'll tell you exactly what your body shape is, so you can move forward and start having more fun witih your outfits.

the top 4 things to look for when choosing a party dress for an apple body type 

These are my tips for what you might want to look for and what you might want to avoid, when choosing party dresses for your apple shape.

These are the style tips and tricks I’ve learned while styling my apple shaped clients, and they are here to serve as a guide (not hard and fast rules to live by!) to help you understand why it is that certain dresses don’t look right on you, or don't fit you, and what you can do to solve that.

Eventually, you will create your own list of do’s and don'ts; but in the meantime, here are some of mine to kick you off:

4 part dresses hangin on a rail, that will look good on an apple body shape


choose a party dress with a low neckine

I recommend choosing a dress with a low neckline. A v-neck top, a sweetheart neckline, a scoop neckline, or a plunge all work well - the key here is low.

There are 2 reasons for the low neckline:

  1. A low neckline will help to narrow your shoulders and torso, by drawing the eye in and down - this will help to create a more balanced frame
  2. A lower neckline will pull less across your shoulders and bust, so will fit you better.


look for dresses that have some wasit definition

Look for dresses that have some sort of definition at the waist. This can be in the form of a tie waist, paneling around the waist, or cinching.

Some of my apple-shaped clients tell me that they avoid dresses with these features because they think they will highlight their lack of a waist.  But the truth is that this style dress will give you a MORE defined waist.

If you’re an apple shape woman who would like to create a more feminine, curvy shape; dresses that cinch you in at the waist are a great option for you.

A word of warning though: keep an eye on where the dress waistline sits on you. If it sits a little below your actual waist, it could make you look rounder than you are, so try to choose dresses sit on your waist, or that possibly sit a little higher.

And, if you have a short waist or a short body (as many apple-shaped women do), consider trying on some dresses from the petite ranges, you may find that these sit better on your frame.


Choose Dresses that have a little volume below your waistline.

Look for dresses that have a peplum, or dresses that have a tulip skirt as these will add a little weight to your hips and thighs, which will help to balance your narrow bottom half with your broader top half.

This will also give you the appearance of a more defined waistline.


Look for dresses that show off your legs

And lastly, you have great legs, so why not choose dresses that highlight this!

 Mini dresses are a great option, as are midi or maxi dresses with a long slit.

3 things you may want to avoid when choosing a party dress for an apple body type 

I don't like to tell you what you shouldn't wear, I'm a firm believer that if you love something and it makes you feel fantastic, you should wear it!

But, there will be some instances when you love something, but it just doesn't look right on you, and it's in instances like that, where it helps to understand why that might be.

So, with that in mind, here are 3 things that might not work on your apple shape:


Puff sleeves and shoulder pads can make an apple shape look top heavy

If you've ever put on a dress and felt like you looked bigger on the top half, or felt broad and boxy, it's likely that the dress had a little volume at the shoulders.

Any volume that sits at your shoulders (puff sleeves and shoulder pads are the main culprits here), can broaden your shoulders, which in turn can make your narrow hips look narrower.

If balancing your proportions is something you want to do, avoid wearing cocktail dresses that have puff sleeves or shoulder pads.


Fitted pencil skirts can make an apple shape look less curvy

One of the main frustrations I hear from my apple shaped clients is that skirts and pants can make them look un-curvy...they also tell me that they have a tendency to slide down.

If this is you, then you might want to avoid wearing tight cocktail dresses that have a pencil skirt or bodycon skirt.

Tight and clingy things on your bottom half can make your already narrow hips look narrower, which can make your overall silhouette look top heavy.


high necklines can make an apple shape look broad

Cocktail dresses that have a high neckline, can make an apple shape look broader and more top heavy that you are.  

A far better option, if this is something you are bothered about, is to wear a low neckline - this will draw the eye in to narrow your shoulders and baance your bottom half.

these are the best cocktail dress styles for an apple body type

a trumpet coctail dress is a great option for an apple shape

A trumpet dress has a skirt that flares out at the hem. You might know them as a mermaid dress.

These make a fantastic option for a party dress because they add a little femininity to your frame and create a curvier silhouette, that gives you some extra waist definition, but they also add some drama to your look, which is perfect for a party dress!

Trumpet dresses come in a range of lengths, so choose the one that appeals the most to you, or that aligns best with the event - a more formal event might require a full-length dress.

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a slip dress is a great party dress for an apple shape

Slip dresses are cut on the bias (and as such, are sometimes called a bias-cut dress), so the fabric contours and enhances, the line of your shape, which means it adapts to your shape and fits really well.

I love how a slip dress has the ability to create a more feminine, curvy silhouette, without the addition of belts and waist ties.

If you don’t like the idea of wearing a dress with spaghetti straps (or you like to wear a bra with straps), choose a slip dress that has a wide strap.

This year there are some beautiful slip dresses in velvet which is a perfect party fabric

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a tuxedo dress (or balzer dress) is a fantastic coctail dress for apple-shaped figures

A blazer dress might just be my absolute favorite cocktail dress option for an apple shape, as it's one of the most flattering dresses for you.

The tailoring showcases your strong shoulders, while the plunging neckline narrows your torso a little. The structure in the dress cinches you in a little to create some definition at your waist, and the length (these are typically short or knee length dresses) shows off your great legs.

This year, tuxedo dresses are having a bit of a moment, options range from suiting, to squins, to velvet, so you have plenty of choice

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a tulip dress is a fantastic option for an apple-shaped coktail dress

Another, close second to my favorite dresses for an apple shape is the tulip dress.

These stylish dresses have fabric that drapes below the waist and this creates a little extra weight and shaping around your hips and thighs, which looks a little like a tulip.

I love these dresses on an apple-shaped body for two reasons:

  1. The first is because the volume that sits below your waistline adds a little shape to your hips and thighs which will make your waist appear more defined.
  2. The second reason is that it doesn’t matter if the bottom half of the dress fits you tightly or not…because the volume and shaping will disguise that!

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a peplum dress will always be a great apple shape party dress

A peplum is a ruffle of fabric (ranging from a subtle, small ruffle, to a large dramatic ruffle) that flares out directly below the waistband of the dress.

The peplum creates a defined waist and a curvy frame, so it’s a great option for an apple-shaped woman who wants to create a curvier silhouette. 

A peplum can also help to disguise a tummy, if that's somethign that you are concerned about.

If you would like more information about dressing to minimize a tummy, check out this comprehensive post I wrote.  

The post shares a ton of styling tips and tricks that will help minimize a tummy.  It also shares my favorite clothing styles for disguising a belly.

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a shift dress is a great choice when looking for an apple shape cocktail dress

Shift dresses are fairly straight in shape, so they fit an apple-shaped frame nicely.

They’re also short so are a great way to showcase your slim legs.

For a party dress, look for shift dresses in luxurious fabrics like velvet, satin, or sequins, to avoid looking like you’re headed to the office.

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a wrap dress is a fantastic type of dress for an apple shape

I love the look of wrap dresses on an apple body shape.

These tie-waist dresses have a low neckline that narrows and fits your toros well, and they add definition to your waist, but I do recommend choosing a wrap dress that has some sort of shaping below the waistline, otherwise, you may feel a little shapeless or top-heavy.

Look for a wrap dress that has an a-line skirt, or a tulip skirt - these will add a little volume to your bottom half, and a little more femininity to your shape.

Length-wise, choose a dress length that works for you and the occasion. 

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a strapless dress is an elegant cocktail dress for an apple body shape 

Strapless dresses are especially good on an apple body shape because they do a fantastic job of narrowing the torso, which helps to balance your narrow shoulders and create a more balanced frame.

You will want to make sure that you choose a strapless dress that has some structure and support, especially if you have a large bust.  

And I recommend going for a strapless party dress that has some shaping at the waist, to create a curvier silhouette.

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the 10 best cocktail dresses for an apple body shape in 2024

Still looking for inspiration to find the perfect party dress for your apple shaped body type?  

Here are some of the party dresses I've been putting my apple shaped clients in this year:

want to know exactly which clothes work best dress for your body shape?

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

An image of a digital guide on how to dress an apple body shape


Finding a cocktail dress that works for your apple body shape can be super frustrating. Especially when you find a dress you love, but it doesn't look as good as you’d hoped when you put it on.

If you follow the tips and info in this post you will arm you with the information you need to understand why some dresses and work and others don't, so you can find your perfect party dress. 

If ‘the perfect one’ is a dress that doesn't check all the ‘flattering-for-an apple-shape’ boxes, it doesn’t matter, wear it anyway!

The most important thing is that the dress makes you look and feel amazing or beautiful or sexy…or whatever you need to feel, so that you feel confident.

But, if on the other hand, ‘the one’ doesn't make you feel good, hopefully you now feel better educated as to why, and can go out and find a better alternative.

If you need any help, or have any questions, you can send me a message here.

Good luck!


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An apple shaped women wearing flattering pants to illustrate the best pants for an apple body shape

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women wearing a red velvet wrap dress

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