The ultimate style guide for plus size women

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plus size clothing model

The shopping experience for plus size women is very different from others. The options can feel very limited. The majority of dress-for-your-shape advice tends to ignore plus-size women or lumps them together as if their bodies are identical. All plus-size bodies are different. 

In this guide, we have categorized the five main plus size body types and how to dress for them accordingly. 


  • Apple Shaped


Apple-shaped bodies carry most of their weight on the top half, particularly in the middle, around the waist. The apple-shaped physique also comes with slender legs and arms, a protruding belly, a wide back or rib cage, and a larger bust, which creates a round appearance.

The goal with apple-shaped bodies is to divert the focus away from the body’s mid-section. 

Opt for V-necks or scooped necklines to create the illusion of a smaller waist and a longer torso. It is best to find pieces with A-line cuts as they give the waist a more defined look. The same rule applies to dresses and skirts.  

For pants, boot-cut or straight-leg pants and jeans should be your go-to because a little volume on the bottom will help balance the top half perfectly. 

If you wish to dress in print, we recommend opting for vertical and geometric patterns to create the illusion of an elongated body and camouflage the midsection. Pair prints with solid colored pieces to balance the aesthetic. 

Avoid clothes that are too tight or too oversized because they draw attention to the torso. Also, refrain from sporting slim-cut pants because they make the upper body seem much fuller. Other things you must steer clear of include: 

  • high-cut necklines 
  • pencil skirts 
  • elaborate details like pockets and pleats around the fullest areas 
  • boxy jackets

The ultimate outfit for an apple-shaped plus-size woman is a wrap dress paired with platform shoes. 


  • Pear Shaped


Pear-shaped bodies carry the larger part of their weight on the lower half of the body. Full hips, a clearly defined waist, and heavy upper thighs characterize a pear-shaped body. The shoulders are generally narrower than the hips, and the bust size leans on the more average to smaller size. 

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pear shaped model

The goal with pear-shaped bodies is to create a proportionate silhouette by diverting attention from the body’s lower half and accentuating the waistline. 

We recommend opting for short, structured jackets with shoulder padding and shape at the waist to strike the perfect balance. When it comes to necklines, wide necklines such as ballet, boat, or square complement pear-shaped bodies the best.

For the most flattering outfits, pear-shaped ladies should work with:

  • A-line skirts
  • empire waistlines
  • asymmetric hemlines 
  • straight or boot-cut pants 
  • fit-and-flare dresses

Avoid slim-cut pants and tight-fitting skirts because they will only highlight your mismatched proportions. 

The ultimate outfit for a pear-shaped plus-size woman is a jumpsuit. A jumpsuit defines the waist flawlessly and cascades beautifully, giving your body a more toned outlook. 


  • Rectangle Shaped


Rectangle-shaped bodies, as the name suggests, have their weight distributed evenly from top to bottom. There is little definition or curvature at the waist, and the shoulders tend to be as wide as the hips. 

The goal with rectangle-shaped bodies is to introduce curves in the right places with the help of clothing. 

You want to invest in pieces that make your waist appear narrower such as V-neck and wrap tops. Asymmetrical striped tops and ones with details like big sleeves and ruffles also work beautifully because they add softness to your aesthetic. You can also experiment with:

  • fit-and-flare dresses
  • high-waisted pants
  • high-waisted pencil skirts
  • trumpet skirts
  • A-line skirts
  • full, long skirts
  • boot-cut pants and jeans

Avoid straight-cut skirts, dresses, and jackets, and garments that cling tightly around the mid-section because they emphasize the lack of definition. Instead of wearing your belt directly on the mid-section, cinch it up a little high, slightly under the rib cage to fake a curvier waist.

The ultimate outfit for a rectangle-shaped body is a peplum with a body-hugging pencil skirt because it creates the illusion of a well-defined waistline. 


  • Hourglass Shaped


Hourglass bodies have a fuller bust and fuller hips coupled with a defined waistline. 

The goal with hourglass bodies is to flaunt your overall silhouette while diverting attention away from any problem areas. 

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For hourglass-shaped bodies, we suggest working with simple silhouettes that flatter the overall physique without overdoing things. Opt for cuts that follow your natural curves such as fitted celebrity leather jackets, wrap dresses, and peplums. High-waisted skirts and belts also look fantastic on hourglass bodies. For pants, opt for slim-cut, boot-cut, or straight-leg styles with a mid-rise to highlight your figure.

Avoid oversized pieces that may hide your curves and details like ruffles around the bust, as they will only add unnecessary volume. Say no to cropped pants as they make your legs and thighs appear wider. Low-rising skirts with bold patterns are also not flattering and disrupt your natural proportions. 

The perfect dress for an hourglass-shaped body is an empire-waisted number as it flatters a curvy body, unlike any other.


  • Inverted Triangle Shaped


Broad shoulders and a narrower torso characterize inverted triangle-shaped bodies. This makes the upper half of the body appear heavier than the lower half. The legs, hips, bust, and rear verge more towards the leaner side. 

Therefore, the goal with inverted triangle shaped bodies is to create balance by diverting attention from the upper half to the lower half. 

Opt for tops that emphasize the waist. These include V-necks and wrap tops. Try to fill out your lower half with wide-legged pants, bell-bottoms, A-line skirts, and fit-and-flare-dresses. Wear muted colors on top and opt for bolder hues on the bottom.

Avoid slim-cut pants as they make your legs seem puny in comparison to your upper frame. Also, avoid wide boat neck collars, lapels, embellishments, and shoulder pads, as they will only accentuate the shoulders. 

The ultimate outfit for an inverted triangle shaped body is a simple tunic with a pair of wide-legged pants. 


  • Parting Thoughts


Plus-size dressing is not easy. Unless you purchase a custom-made piece, you are bound to find some awkward-fitting clothes if you order off the racks. 

Your goal should be to dress according to your body’s shape to create the most flattering outfit. Last but definitely not the least, regardless of how you choose to dress, sport it with confidence.

1 Comment

  1. me you knnow on September 1, 2020 at 6:45 am

    Shopping for dresses is fun. Just be sure to find a reputable online store with a free return or exchange policy if you are shopping in your pyjamas at the comforts of home. Do check out the materials and the size of the dress because your comfort and fit matters. Happy dress shopping! Heres some tips for sizing,