How To Dress Your Body Type When You’re Plus Size

 As a fashion blogger, I get tons of questions from plus size women about how they can flatter their curves. What they really want to know is how to dress for their plus size body type.
Learning how to dress your body type takes patience. Most people think they are limited when it comes to dressing their body type but that’s simply not true.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to dress different plus size body shapes, continue reading as I break it down. The most common shapes in women are apple, pear, hourglass, and rectangle. Some people hate to refer to their bodies as a fruit. I totally get it.

So, we are going to be more descriptive with the different shapes you can be. For example, if you’re an apple shape, I’ll say you have more of a round shape. Instead of a pear, I’ll say you have more of an inverted triangle shape. Try not to focus so much on the name but more on the descriptions.

 
 
Depending on your height and measurements I personally believe you can be a blend of two shapes. For now, we’ll stick to defining each individual shape.

How To Find Your Plus Size Body Type

Before diving into how to dress your body type, you need to know your measurements. Knowing your measurements makes it a bit easier to define your body type.

You’ll want to get a clothing measuring tape. You can find them on Amazon, Joann’s, or Michaels. The key places you’re going to measure is your bust, waist, high hip, and low hip. Below is a photo to help guide you on where you should measure yourself.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Marshot

Write your measurements down on separate piece of paper. Then go to https://www.calculator.net/body-type-calculator.html or https://www.omnicalculator.com/health/body-shape plug your measurements in the calculator and it will tell you which body type your measurements fall under.

How To Dress For Your Body Type Plus Size Style

Because I’m a visual learner, I’m going to be using some of your favorite plus size celebrities to help relate to your specific body type.

*Key Point to KnowPersonally, I believe you can be a blend of two shapes so it’s not always set in stone that your are 100% an apple shape or a pear shape. The goal is to get you to see what works for your body based on each shape’s characteristics. Got it?!

How To Dress An Apple(Round) Shape Body Type

When I think of apple shapes, Rebel Wilson comes to mind. The most common characteristics of an apple shape are slim legs, large chest, and you carry most of your weight in your tummy and top half of your body. Most apple shapes have broad shoulders.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Feature Flash Photo Agency

Note: Some apple shapes are also referred to as diamond or oval shapes.

Styling Tips For Apple Shapes

For most apple shapes creating or defining a waist is key since you carry most of your weight in your mid section and upper body. You should accentuate and show off your legs and decolletage.

What to Buy

DENIM/PANTS-your best buys are high rise, skinny, straight leg, and bootcut jeans.

SKIRTS-Go for pencil, A-line, and wrap skirts

DRESSES-Try bias cut, wraps, and off the shoulder dresses

JACKETS-Try one button blazers or 3 button blazers. Moto jackets that hit slightly above the hip are flattering. Belted coats like trench coats help create a shapely figure. Also single breasted jackets and coats help to streamline and balance out your shape.

Don’t be afraid of ruched details around the mid section and small all over prints. They’re very flattering on your figure. Structured pieces will help give you a long and sleek look.

Shop these pieces for apple shapes

Dress, Moto Jacket, Jeans, Top

How To Dress A Pear Shape Body Type

The common characteristic of a pear shape is wide hips, thick thighs and legs, small defined waist, and narrow shoulders. Pear shapes are considered to be the most common on women today. Note: Some pear shapes can also look like they’re bordering hourglass.

Plus size model Fluvia Lacerda shows off her pear shape with a body con dress that has intricate details on the smallest part of her body and a slim and sleek fit on the lower half of her body, which is her fullest part. In addition, the details on the top help to balance out her lower half.

Style Goal– If you’re a pear your focus is going to be on balancing out your upper body with your lower half. Often pear shapes have a hard time finding bottoms that fit their ample hips and small waist so a tailor should be on your speed dial.

 What to Buy– Printed & detailed  tops, Flat front pants, highwaisted pants, long jackets and blazers, skinny leg and bootcut jeans, belts will aid you in showcasing your small waist. Fit and flare dresses are also a great option.
 

Items L-R: Dress, Jumpsuit, Skirt

Celebrity’s with your shape-Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Michelle Obama, Tyra Banks


How To Dress An Hourglass Shape Body Type

This is probably the most coveted shaped of them all due to a well balanced proportionate body. However, I think all shapes can definitely shine. Common characteristics of an hourglass are large chest, defined waist, and round full bottom. 

Ashley Graham always plays up her hourglass shape. In this Michael Kors dress she rocks a belt to further cinch her waist. The strapless top of the dress plays up her full breast and the fitted knee length bottom of the dress shows off her curvy hips.

Style Goal-  Hourglass shapes much like the apple tend to have a large chest. Your goal is to find clothes that  fit and flatter your curves. Hourglass shapes also tend to look great in classic cuts and styles.

What to Buy– Hourglass figures look great in body con dresses, structured tops, and high waisted pants and jeans. You definitely want to look for clothing with a little stretch.

Your best styles are classic silhouettes like a sheath dress, pencil skirts, and peplum. Clothes should be more structured and on the tailored side but offer a little give.

Items L-R: Dress, Skirt, Jumpsuit

Celebrity’s with your shape-Christina Hendricks, Salma Hayek, Scarlett Johanson

How To Dress A Rectangle Shape Body Type

The main characteristics of a rectangle shape are an undefined waist, same size bust and hips. Women with rectangular shapes can look a little boxy and boyish.

Celebrity’s with your shape: QueenLatifah

Style Goal-To find clothes that create a curvier shape.

 What to Buy-Since the rectangle shape is proportionate you can go for bold prints, ruffled tops, asymmetrical cuts like tulip skirts, tiered styles, heavy knits, peplum, and wide leg pants/jeans
Items: Dress, Jeans, Jumpsuit

Hopefully we helped you get a better understanding of your shape and how to dress it. Remember, these are just suggestions, you can wear whatever you like and mix and match styles from each body type.

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32 Comments

  1. Naturally Nae
    September 27, 2012 / 5:24 pm

    Great post! I’m really still learning what clothes look best for my body type. I feel as though I’m a combination of Apple and Hourglass. Because I’m tall, almost six feet and carry most of my weight from the hip up but I do cut in at the waist giving me the hour glass shape. I really appreciate this post, it helps A LOT!

  2. Anonymous
    September 27, 2012 / 5:20 pm

    Where’s that purple skater dress from in the apple section?

    • January 9, 2016 / 11:12 am

      looks like Torrid.com

  3. Reina T.
    September 27, 2012 / 9:30 pm

    Great Post! Where can I find the structured blazer in the hourglass post?!

  4. PGRDresses
    September 28, 2012 / 9:22 am

    Great article. One of the better ones I have seen on the topic of styling for plus size women. Thanks!

  5. Krystal Midega
    May 3, 2013 / 8:22 am

    very good article there! very informative!

  6. Koli
    July 12, 2013 / 6:49 pm

    Great guide! I also learned a lot from the book the Science of Sexy, VERY helpful in delving into more detail with the topic you started. Thanks!

  7. October 12, 2016 / 10:24 am

    Is there a guide for women who are Bo – legged, knock-kneed, straight-legged or tremendously big-footed? Or is “how to dress” by upper body shape only?

  8. December 31, 2016 / 2:32 am

    No…according to you…I am an apple…big boobs, great legs but your model has my boobs w/way off legs…I get the “define a waist ” thing but tell me how to accentuate what I have….how can I get that from your model who doesn’t exemplify what you are describing

    • alissa
      Author
      December 31, 2016 / 11:43 am

      Hi Anna,
      Your comment sounds very aggressive. NOt sure why. Actually, the model we chose as an apple shape very much falls in that category. If you can see by the photo, her outfit is styled in a way that gives her more of a shapely figure. I didn’t make up the requirements for the apple shape. The details I listed for an apple shape are FACTS. If you don’t agree with the person I chose to exemplify the apple shape, BY ALL MEANS, please google and find another site that you feel helps you more.

      • May 17, 2017 / 7:21 pm

        GREAT response! And great article. I have a bit of a different issue. My shape has always been pretty symmetrical (hourglass, I suppose) even when I gained weight. But then I hit middle age and developed a big belly that is hard to hide and even harder to get rid of. Many of the styles used to wear look terrible on n me now. Any suggestions?

      • September 24, 2017 / 8:11 pm

        Do you know of a good store that sells apple shape dresses ?

  9. January 13, 2017 / 9:25 am

    Hi, great article. I still find myself with issues figuring out what would look good on me. I’m like a mix of apple and rectangle; small bust, big waist and hips the same size as waist and bust (44, 46, 45) with most weight in front of my waist (makes me look pregnant). Everything I find that would fit my waist is WAY TOO BIG at the bust section. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. February 20, 2017 / 2:15 am

    I’m a plus size pear shaped woman and I do a lot of videos on plus size fashion on my YouTube channel. I find this article very helpful and I give it a big thumbs up. If anyone is interested in my channel, my channel name is FashionMeCurvy.

  11. March 28, 2017 / 10:19 pm

    Thanks so much for the information I am an apple shape and everything you said to wear is what I love on me already, thanks for confirming

  12. June 3, 2018 / 1:12 am

    Thank you this was VERY helpful.

  13. September 20, 2018 / 3:37 pm

    I am confused on what shape I am. My chest and hips are the about the same but I have some belly and my waist is slightly smaller.

    • Rach
      June 27, 2020 / 7:55 pm

      That’s a rectangle I’d say.
      I’ve been that rectangle all my life, lower sizes and plus size.
      As I age I find the hardest part is accentuating the top half while hiding a prominent belly.
      I’d say there’s some good ideas here for us.

  14. October 24, 2018 / 10:09 pm

    I was very impressed to see that there are classy and elegant outfits for all plus size women. I thank you for posting this article.

  15. November 10, 2018 / 12:56 am

    Nice post for super moms have great and plus size figure. I am really impressed with the styles and looks you explained in this post. Actually every lady need these types of tips and I am also. I will really apply your tips on myself. Thanks Again

  16. December 20, 2018 / 3:32 pm

    I needed this post. I thought I was apple but I think I am rectangle.

  17. December 23, 2018 / 10:08 pm

    This guideline is very helpful! I appreciate how you breakdown each type and show what may flatter the body types in clothing options.

    • alissa
      Author
      December 26, 2018 / 4:47 pm

      thank you

    • August 4, 2019 / 10:20 pm

      Great read. Thank you. Im an apple with broad shoulders and big legs.; I always say I have no great area to emphasize. Any suggestions?

  18. March 31, 2019 / 12:54 pm

    Thank you for this very informative and helpful post. I really needed some help with my (Apple) shape.

  19. September 4, 2019 / 9:58 am

    I did not know the fact that the most common shapes in women are apple, pear, hourglass, and a rectangle. My aunt says that it’ s hard for her to find clothes for her since she wears plus sizes. I will share this article with her so she can have a better idea of what type of clothes will fit better on her.

  20. MJ
    January 8, 2020 / 3:00 pm

    Help! My bust is 38DD, I have slender legs nice calves, thicker in the middle. What do I wear!

    • alissa
      Author
      January 8, 2020 / 6:26 pm

      Hi! Thank you for your comment I listed the body types above that relate to your body description. It sounds like you fall in the apple shape body type.

  21. February 10, 2020 / 9:35 am

    I often choose for myself the event costume. But currently on the market there are many brands. Can you advise me a reputable brand?

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