apple body shape guidelines on how to dress the apple body shape

Are you an apple shape and wondering how to dress your apple body shape? It can be a tricky shape to style.

In this updated article, adapted for spring and summer, we are going to look at the apple shaped body and how to dress in the most flattering way for you.


  • You have no defined waist
  • Weight tends to form on the stomach
  • You have an average to large bust size

This is a body shape that often develops after 40 when you start to experience symptoms of (peri)menopause and may gain weight around your waist.


To be honest this is not the easiest body shape to dress as many women with this shape will be well aware of.

Some women tend to cover it all up with loose garments which, in most cases, is not the right thing to do as this can simply make you look larger than you really are.

Winter and fall can be the easiest seasons to dress the apple shape because you can play with layers to create long, lean lines and skim over your belly.

However, thankfully, you can still add lovely layers in spring and summer too. In this article you will find out how to dress the apple body shape, no matter what the season.

How to dress the apple body shape | 40plusstyle.comHow to dress the apple body shape |

Georgette @grownandcurvywoman above (read her style interview here) looks fabulous in her pink belted dress.

Recreate her outfit with this similar shirtdress (other options here and here) and flats.


What you DO want to do is to create the nicest silhouette possible.

For many apples, you can do that by creating the illusion of a waist, highlighting your cleavage and creating nice vertical lines.

I also like the look of a straight silhouette, but with the use of lots of vertical lines for a long and lean silhouette.

You may also like to check out the best shops for the apple body shape.


You probably assume that most celebrities aren’t an apple shape, as this can be a tricky shape to style.

But, the fact is there are lots of female celebrities with the same body shape as you.

They have just learned tricks – or their stylist has taught them – about how to dress to flatter their shape.

These women tend to carry their weight around their middle, but have great legs, so you will often see them choosing an outfit which shows off their legs for red carpet events.

For inspiration, you can look at celebrities including Drew Barrymore, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Amy Schumer and Kate Winslet.


Below are some rough guidelines of what will and will not work for many apple shaped women over 40.


First of all, check that you really do have an apple shaped body.

Many women put on a little weight around the tummy area as we age, for all sorts of reasons including menopause.

But, you can have a little bit of weight around your tummy and still be a pear shape, or an hourglass, for example.

If you aren’t sure, you can check with out body shape calculator.


As with dressing for any body shape, the idea is to create balance, so you will want to draw attention away from the widest part of your belly.

You can do this in two ways. Either you can skim over your tummy area completely.

Or you can redefine where your mid-section is. You don’t have to tie your belt at your widest point, for example. You can just belt a little further up where you are slimmer.

The Karen Kane blouse (below) flows across the tummy area in a flattering way.

Karen Kane Asymmetrical Crepe Top | 40plusstyle.comKaren Kane Asymmetrical Crepe Top |

Karen Kane Asymmetrical Crepe Top

Georgette wears a one shoulder top and loose pants | Georgette wears a one shoulder top and loose pants |

Above is another look from Georgette @grownandcurvywoman. Drawing attention to another part of your body (in this case the shoulders) is a great tip to draw the eye away from your tummy.

Recreate her outfit with this similar top (another option here), pants, sandals and earrings.


Okay, you don’t have to emphasize your cleavage if you don’t want to. But my general point is you should draw attention somewhere else other than your tummy.

If you are happy with your cleavage or decolletage, you could draw attention upwards. A v-neck top will be super-flattering on you. If you don’t want an open neckline, you could use a bright, statement necklace.

Nation LTD Caprice Twist T-Shirt | 40plusstyle.comNation LTD Caprice Twist T-Shirt |

Nation LTD Caprice Twist T-Shirt


If you prefer your legs – and lots of apple shape women have great legs – you could draw the attention downwards instead.

That doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a mini skirt, but you could go above the knee with your hem length.

Or you can wear a longer plain top, but choose patterned jeans or pants.

Vince Camuto Abstract Floral Print High-Low Midi Skirt | 40plusstyle.comVince Camuto Abstract Floral Print High-Low Midi Skirt |

Vince Camuto Abstract Floral Print High-Low Midi Skirt


Don’t opt for clingy materials which will just draw attention to any lumps and bumps.

Instead, opt for textured materials or draping and ruching. The Karen Kane faux wrap dress (below) is a timeless classic that tends to be available in black, navy and red.

Karen Kane faux wrap dress | 40plusstyle.comKaren Kane faux wrap dress |

Karen Kane Cascade Faux Wrap Dress (plus size / Amazon)


I’ve already given you a few simple guidelines, but now let’s go into much more detail on what will look good on you if you are an apple shape.

Below, you will find a capsule wardrobe which will work for the spring and summer season for the apple body type.

I’ve been inspired by some of the spring and summer color trends for 2023 including the blues, pinks and greens.


  • First of all, since a lot of attention is going to be drawn to the top part of your body, get yourself a well-fitting bra. You don’t want your bust and your tummy meeting each other!
  • Tops that highlight your body at the slimmest point, which is often just underneath your bust are often very flattering. They should have enough space for your belly but not be too wide.
  • Buy t-shirts that are ruched in the middle. This will confuse the eye and you can’t tell that there’s a tummy underneath.
  • Get tops with a V-neck to break up the size of your chest and create a vertical line.
  • Look for tops with a thicker texture that don’t cling so much. Woven tops can be great.
  • The best hem-length for tops is just below your hipbone (when worn with pants)
  • Patterns tend to look very good on an apple shape body as they flatter and camouflage.
  • Tops that draw attention to your arms with e.g. flares, a slit or embroidery will draw attention from your belly
  • Asymmetry in your tops helps to create vertical and slimming lines.

As you are likely to have a larger bust size, also take a look at this article on the best bras for large breasts: bras which are supportive AND stylish.

The tops below use a number of these techniques. There’s ruching, asymmetry, and modern prints and colors.

Tops for the apple shape body | 40plusstyle.comTops for the apple shape body |

Weekend Max Mara Silver Wrap Blouserag & bone Indiana Striped Twisted ShirtCaroline Rose Reflection Knit Swing TunicJW Anderson Asymmetric Draped Top

For more shoppable ideas, check out this article on the best tops to hide a belly, which features plenty of inspiration.

Susanne in tunic top, long topper and cropped pants | 40plusstyle.comSusanne in tunic top, long topper and cropped pants |

Susanne @textelle above (read her style interview here) opts for a long flowy shirt and coat. She keeps her look balanced by choosing slim pants.

Get her look with this similar tunic shirt, shirtdress, pants and sneakers.

Sweaters and cardigans

Unless you live somewhere super hot you’re likely to need a cardigan or sweater for cooler days or evenings.

The sweaters below are good examples for the apple shape. The draped options will skim over any lumps or bumps, while the asymmetrical sweater and long cardigan create vertical lines that minimize the tummy area.

Cardigans and sweaters for the apple shape body | 40plusstyle.comCardigans and sweaters for the apple shape body |

AllSaints Lock Rolled Neck Asymmetric SweaterA.W.A.K.E. Mode Asymmetric Wool-Blend BlousePULI Knitted PonchoANRABESS Open Coatigan

Poncho and wide pants | 40plusstyle.comPoncho and wide pants |

PULI Knitted PonchoJW Anderson Asymmetric Draped TopATM Anthony Thomas Melillo Palazzo PantsSöfft Liv Leather Block Platform HeelsKate Spade New York Knott Color-Blocked Crossbody ToteOradina Gallery Drop Earrings


  • You can layer with a long cardigan or a long sleeveless vest.
  • Make sure the top underneath is not too short.
  • Try to have v-necklines with your long long jumper or tops underneath the layering piece.
  • Longer tops and jackets that skim the body can be worn with leggings or skinny jeans.
  • As an apple shape, you will find a number of jackets can work for you as you can layer to draw attention away from your belly. Just make sure that your jacket does not end at your widest point.
  • Make sure that the jacket fits the shoulder perfectly, so choose the size for your shoulders, not your belly. If you can’t close the jacket, you can always use a scarf to fill the gap if you like.
  • Choose tailored jackets that have a nice v shape at the top.
  • Opt for a single-breasted rather than a double-breasted style.

You can use the clothes you wear to create the illusion of a leaner waistline.

Below, we’ve included coats with a flattering drape, or which you can create long lines with. A moto jacket is also a good option as you can wear longer tops underneath and then layer with your leather jacket.

A blazer is a classic option for any body shape, while open coats are perfect for layering.

Coats and jackets for the apple shape body | 40plusstyle.comCoats and jackets for the apple shape body |

Weekend Max Mara Ellisse Wool-Blend Belted CoatEileen Fisher High Collar Long Open-Front JacketLamarque Ciara Leather Cropped Biker JacketFavorite Daughter The Satin Juniper Duster

Coat and skirt | 40plusstyle.comCoat and skirt |

Favorite Daughter The Satin Juniper DusterWeekend Max Mara Silver Wrap BlouseIsabel Marant Joella Ruched Midi-SkirtSöfft Liv Leather Block Platform HeelsTory Burch Reva ClutchCOS Organic Shaped Pendant Necklace


  • Get trousers that have zippers at the side to avoid adding extra bumps on the front.
  • Trousers should be flared or straight and not cling to tummy or thighs unless you are opting to create the long and lean silhouette using vertical lines. Avoid pleats.
  • Also choose jeans that are tailored and either straight or flared. Trouser jeans are ideal.
  • Pants with a high rise will create a nice silhouette.
  • It’s best to get trousers with some stretch for extra comfort and a good fit.
  • Choose skirts that have their zippers at the side.
  • Structured pencil skirts work well, but keep them at knee length. Make sure to add the focus to the top with the tips above.
  • Make sure that any pleats of skirts start below the belly to avoid adding extra volume.

Although you probably have lovely slim legs, choosing a pair of skinny jeans is not always the way to go. This is because you might end up creating a top heavy silhouette.

Instead, you may find a better balance by opting for a bootcut or slim style. However, If you are using the technique of slimming layers on your top half, then you can wear skinny jeans on your bottom half.

Also take a look at this article on the best jeans for your body shape.

Can women with an apple shape wear jeans?

Of course. In fact, we have a whole article about that. Take a look at the best jeans for apple shape figures.

A bootcut shape will create balance in your figure, with the flared hem balancing the tummy area. Or you could opt for a pair of slimmer leggings or pants with your tunics and dresses.

Pencil skirts also tend to be flattering for the apple shape. The skirt (below) comes in a good choice of colors, has ruching to disguise lumps and bumps.

Pants and skirts for the apple shape body | 40plusstyle.comPants and skirts for the apple shape body |

PAIGE Genevieve Flared JeansPAIGE Cindy High-Rise Ankle Straight JeansATM Anthony Thomas Melillo Palazzo PantsIsabel Marant Joella Ruched Midi-Skirt

Lydia wears an asymmetric top and jeans | 40plusstyle.comLydia wears an asymmetric top and jeans |

Lydia @birabiro above (read her style interview here) opts for an asymmetric style that draws the attention vertically downwards.

Check out this asymmetrical top that you can wear with this similar pair of jeans, flats and bag.


  • Dresses should have their waistline just below the bust or at your thinnest point.
  • You can also choose shift style dresses which skim over your waist rather than emphasizing your thickest point.
  • Another idea is to look for dresses which have ruching, draping or layers.
  • You can also try wearing a shorter tunic style over a pair of skinny pants or leggings. You’ll find tips in this article on how to wear leggings.

You can see some examples (below) of flattering dresses for the apple shape. If you choose a belt with a tie waist, you can alter exactly where you tie the belt for the most flattering effect. A graphic pattern works to confuse the eye, and draw attention away from the tummy area.

The navy dress (left) has subtle asymmetry, and would look great worn for work or evening. Wear shorter styles, like the animal print over your leggings or coated jeans.

Dresses for the apple shape body | 40plusstyle.comDresses for the apple shape body |

MICHAEL Michael Kors Collared Wrap DressBoden Joanna Jersey Midi Wrap DressMANGO Belt ShirtdressMANGO Printed Satin Dress


You will find that the tips in this article can work for an apple size no matter whether you are petite, tall, or plus size.

Below are some dresses for the apple shaped plus size that you could wear either alone (in the case of the dresses with a waist) or to layer over leggings (the looser shift style dresses).

Plus size dresses to hide your belly | 40plusstyle.comPlus size dresses to hide your belly |

Nordstrom Tie Waist Midi DressChelsea28 Flutter Plissé Midi DressStandards & Practices Nimah Maxi DressEstelle Alani Floral Print Midi Dress

Cardigan and dress | 40plusstyle.comCardigan and dress |

ANRABESS Open CoatiganMANGO Belt ShirtdressCole Haan Grandpro Topspin SneakersMICHAEL Michael Kors Kensington Large Shoulder ToteOradina Gallery Drop Earrings


You don’t have to worry about your shoes fitting your belly, but you can use your shoes to detract attention away from your tummy area.

Many apple shapes have fantastic legs, so how about opting for colorful shoes to draw the attention to your legs and slim ankles?

Because you are likely to have great legs, you can wear strappy sandals to show off your ankles. Or choose a pair of statement boots.

Shoes for the apple shape body | 40plusstyle.comShoes for the apple shape body |

Söfft Liv Leather Block Platform HeelsVince Camuto Bivenya High Heel SandalsTory Burch Jessa LoafersCole Haan Grandpro Topspin Sneakers

Mini dress and pants | 40plusstyle.comMini dress and pants |

MANGO Printed Satin DressPAIGE Cindy High-Rise Ankle Straight JeansTory Burch Jessa LoafersTory Burch Reva ClutchOradina Gallery Drop Earrings


Of course, you can choose whatever accessories you love as you don’t have to worry about how your accessories fit your waist (apart from your belt!).

But, thinking strategically about your accessories can help you to draw attention from the area of your body you aren’t so keen on (your belly or waist) and either upwards or downwards.

Choosing a statement accessory (scarf, necklace or a pair of earrings) can draw the attention up to your face, while opting for colorful or patterned shoes can draw the eye to your legs.

Accessories to go with your apple body shape clothes | 40plusstyle.comAccessories to go with your apple body shape clothes |

MICHAEL Michael Kors Kensington Large Shoulder ToteKate Spade New York Knott Color-Blocked Crossbody ToteTory Burch Reva ClutchCOS Organic Shaped Pendant NecklaceNEST Jewelry Statement NecklaceOradina Gallery Drop Earrings

Susanne wears a satin skirt and white shirt | 40plusstyle.comSusanne wears a satin skirt and white shirt |

Above is another look from Susanne @textelle who tucks her shirt into her satin shirt.

Steal her look with this similar shirt, skirt, pumps, bag, earrings and belt.


I’ve talked a lot about what to wear if you have an apple shape, but how about what you should avoid?

Here a a few items that you may like to avoid when you have apple body shape.

  • Big puffa jackets – these will only make your midriff look wider.
  • Big shapeless garments that don’t show any waist. You can, however, use tunic dresses as a base to create long, lean lines with layers.
  • Bulky trousers with lots of pockets and zippers at the front.
  • High necklines. A V-neck will be more flattering.
  • Tight, clingy T-shirts that show every lump and bump.
  • Avoid wearing everything in one solid color. Better to mix color with a texture or to use several layers in different colors to create vertical lines.

A CAPSULE wardrobe for the apple shaped body type – 9 unique OUTFITS USING THE PIECES ABOVE

If you aren’t sure how to put together the individual pieces for the apple shape that we’ve featured, then below you will find some inspiration on how to put the outfits together.

These outfits feature lots of tricks which can provide a more flattering silhouette for the apple.

You can see layering, asymmetry, the use of cardigans to create long columns, and the use of accessories to draw your eye upwards or downwards.

You can easily mix and match to create different outfits for the season.

A capsule wardrobe for the apple body shape | 40plusstyle.comA capsule wardrobe for the apple body shape |

Also read our ultimate guide to creating a capsule wardrobe that works best for you.

Shop THE items above here:

What does an apple-shaped body look like?

Remember that an apple body shape is one that tends to carry weight around the tummy area. Your shoulders and bust are likely to be wider than your hips.

What clothes look good on an apple shape?

We’re sure you now have lots of ideas about what to wear for your apple shape. A couple of classic examples that tend to look great on apple shapes are tunic tops with slimmer pants or a flattering wrap dress with a v-neck.

How should an apple shape over 40 dress?

However you want to, of course. Taking on board the tips and ideas in this article will help you to dress in a way that is flattering and makes you feel more confident.


Below are capsules we created earlier. These exact items are no longer available in stores but you can use these as inspiration to put your outfits together whilst you are shopping your own closet.

Apple body shapes usually find it a bit easier to dress in colder weather as you can make ready use of layers to conceal your belly or draw the attention away from your tummy.

Many of these outfits can be adapted for any climate.

A capsule wardrobe for the apple body shape | 40plusstyle.comA capsule wardrobe for the apple body shape |
A capsule wardrobe for the apple body shape | 40plusstyle.comA capsule wardrobe for the apple body shape |
A capsule wardrobe for the apple body shape | 40plusstyle.comA capsule wardrobe for the apple body shape |
A capsule wardrobe for the apple body shape | 40plusstyle.comA capsule wardrobe for the apple body shape |

Continue reading:

  1. 14 Sure-Fire Ways To Hide Your Belly With The Right Clothes
  2. The Best Tops To Hide Your Tummy
  3. The Best Shops For Women With The Apple Body Shape

Do you have an apple body shape? What styles do you find fit and flatter your apple shaped body?


How to dress the apply body shape | 40plusstyle.comHow to dress the apply body shape |

Feature image by Georgette @grownandcurvywoman


Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. An alumni of the School of Color and Design, she is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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