Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

September 29, 2007

The Big Question: What works best for Apples?

Filed under: Fashion,The Big Question,What Should I Wear? — Francesca @ 7:26 am

Our internet friend Emanuelle writes:

I’m from Germany, far, FAR away from these fascinating ideas I’m reading in your blog and the sites you’re linking. The idea of a fat woman not trying to lose weight would sound completely absurd to my friends. Not that they don’t like me the way I am, it’s just that nobody has ever heard anything like it before, around here. Clothes that show curves, don’t hide them? Ridiculous. Magazines are full of tips how to hide your big bosom and draw attention away from it.

This is where my question comes in. I’m 25 years old, 5’5” and 180-190 pounds. I wear a European size 46 (American 14-18), I’m an “apple” type, with slimmer legs and a large belly, but with huge, honestly, enormous breasts. From what I gather, I should be wearing wrap tops and empire waists. Roughly 80% of plus size tops you can buy in Germany are wrap tops. They are supposed to emphasize my waist and flatter me. They don’t! They make my belly look huge, and my upper body short and deformed. Don’t even start me on high waists and belts.

What looks great on me are V necks, and ¾ sleeves, so I stick to that. But it gets boring after some years. I long to dress like a real woman, to wear skirts and dresses, but I honestly have no idea what might look good on me. Because I’ve been too busy all these years trying to change my body to find that out.


Oh, our dear superfantastic internet friend, and my fellow Appley sister! Do not despair, for you have come to the right place for wisdom and incredibly gorgeous clothes.

Francesca has responded at length via email to Emanuelle’s cry for help, but before I post my answers, I would like to hear from you, our other internet friends, who know from long, long experience:

What fashion tips do you recommend for your Appley, large-breasted, large-tummied, small-hipped sisters?


  1. Being an apple myself, I find the following things work well for me (but granted, I am an apple with a bit of waist curve and smaller breasts)

    40s style dresses– the defined waist defines yours and the broad bias skirts create an hour glass figure. They’re particularly nice for playing up breasts if you think this is a nice feature. I like shopping at for really flattering and beautiful dresses of this style.

    Straight Leg/Skinny jeans– This really varies by person, and finding the “right” pair is crucial! I find that they are the only style of jeans that fit the thigh/calf of my legs right, while maintaining a slim fit in the hips and butt, but provide enough room in the stomach. Pairing them with the right style top really helps them from making my belly look too big.

    For skirts, I avoid anything pencil/slim cut. A-line skirts, circle skirts, peg skirts, they’re all great! They flare out, so they add more shape to your hips, while semi defining a narrow point on your waist. I find that pencil skirts just cling to your lower belly in unflattering ways, and I think the Manolo would be against that.

    Hope these help some!

    Comment by Ashe Mischief — September 29, 2007 @ 10:14 am

  2. Hi Emanuelle, I know your problem and I think it is a good way to say, ok I am a big person but I have not to wear big top to look like nothing more than a big person. I am and individual person!

    I think, you need to shorten all the clothes but if you do so the correct fit will be lost

    V neck and 3/4 arms, and the shirt has to fit my body, normaly no chance to buy in the shop next door; but I started to sew my clothes myself. I can buy the fabrik I like, use a pattern that realy fits me and I am looking good. Maybe an alternativ idea for you to get clothes you like? (You can also go to a tailor – it is not as expensive as it sounds.)

    Sorry, that I have not the burning concept, but looking forward to the ideas of the other readers.

    Greetings from Germany too

    Comment by Aud — September 29, 2007 @ 10:17 am

  3. Ooh, yes, the terror of the ridiculously large chest. I have found that the key is to get a wrap top that is NOT FLOWY. I know what you’re thinking – “But then it will make my tummy look fat!” but not so, my friend! A flowy top makes it look like your tummy starts at your breasts, which, because they are enormous, makes your tummy look enormous. What you need is to define the area just below your breasts as closely as possible, as it is almost certainly the smallest point on your torso. Look for shirts or dresses with a midriff band. A seam below the breasts isn’t going to take care of it. You need the definition that three or four inches of straight fabric can give you. Then have the skirt/bottom of shirt flow out from there. (And, as Ashe says above me, big, full skirts are an apple girl’s friend. Just make sure that they are GRADUALLY full, not a big fluffy mess an inch below your waist. Gores and A-lines = love.

    Comment by Scarlett — September 29, 2007 @ 10:23 am

  4. Hola from yet another Apple woman – 5’5″ tall, 180 pounds, more or less, with short arms, no waist whatsoever, and the 38D brassiere.

    The Annalucia is also the fan of the 3/4 sleeve and the deep V-neck – almost all her shirts and sweaters are so constructed. She also likes the plain wrap dress, of which she has three, and she makes up for the plainness of style by having them in bold colors (the Annalucia is a Winter and can get away with the solid black and the hot red). She also wears her skirts midcalf and A-lined. She does have the nice shapely legs, but alas she cannot display them in the short skirt, not with that most solid torso which looms above.

    By the way she also recommends the high-waisted Spanx underpants, to help keep said torso under control.

    Comment by Annalucia — September 29, 2007 @ 4:05 pm

  5. I think, also, something needs to be said for highlighting the adorableness of an apple shape :)

    Too many “fashion experts” (ha!) try to “hide flaws” or use “tricks” to make us apples appear tall & lean. I think that those techniques are great ways to offer more fashion options, but a tall & lean look is not the only flattering way to appear.

    In my experience, when I wear a mandarin-collared print tunic with tapered pants (“oh, horror!” all brainwashed folks exclaim), I get compliments GALORE from friends, family, & strangers alike!! (I have several of these outfits, and wear all feeling great & ready to be adored).

    I think the positive reaction these outfits illicit is because I’m playing up my OBVIOUS body shape & even highlighting my pleasantly round belly and teeny ankles & wrists, and being comfortable with how you actually are is a HUGE turn-on to many folks :)

    Mind you, I only wear outfits like this when I want to look cute – and I recognize it took me a long time to become comfortable with myself enough to wear what I think looks great (& what the “experts” tell me looks horrible).

    I hope, one day, you’ll feel happy enough with yourself to wear what makes you smile, too :)

    Comment by dangermouse — September 29, 2007 @ 5:10 pm

  6. I’m an apple with giant boobs too- size 14/16, 36F bra- and like Scarlett, I find that non-flowy wrap tops with longer sleeves and a band of fabric under the bust is very flattering. It can be hard to find tops like this with a larger chest, because a lot of the time the fabric band doesn’t want to actually sit under the bust without totally exposing the girls, but it is possible. For US girls, NY & Company ( has good top options in plus sizes, and their prices don’t break the bank. Overseas, try Bravissimo ( They do a lot of lingerie, but also have clothes and sell different fits depending upon your bra size and “curviness” factor.

    For bottoms, straight leg jeans are my best friend. I’m a particular fan of Jeanstar jeans because they have more give in the waistband than most jeans so they have space for my tummy. A-line and fuller skirts are also flattering. I’ve pretty much given up on dresses because of the huge difference in size between my top and bottom halves, but am at peace with that because there are tons of cute separates out there.

    Good luck Emanuelle!

    Comment by SaraB — September 29, 2007 @ 11:32 pm

  7. princess seams – they look wonderful on ALL plus sized women (and on skinny women too, and women in between). Just make sure they FIT well – and if that means making friends with a tailor or seamstress, then do it!

    Comment by CanadianChick — September 30, 2007 @ 12:26 am

  8. Hi Annalucia. I too am the 38D brassiere. It is the right size, not big at all! But the lack of waist makes mine less stunning than it really is…

    The Emanuelle should first get fitted for a good brassiere, if she hasn’t already. Sexy heels next, and a fabulous hair do.

    Empire waist don’t work on me too, but v-necks, men’s shirts, shorter skirts (at the knee or higher with some swing (at the knee or above) are great.

    Not apples are the same, so experiment

    Comment by shiloh — September 30, 2007 @ 5:32 am

  9. I am a pretty young apple at 17, so I can’t guarantee that what works for me will work for you. I am tallish, about 5’8″, and a little over 200 pounds (haven’t weighed in a while ’cause I like the way I look!) with 36 GG cup size. I dislike showing my legs too much because I think it makes me look a little too top-heavy (also there’s less shaving to do), but I love knee-length or longer skirts. However, I do have a few staples I’d love to share.

    Wide-leg pants: these are trendy right now, but I’ve been wearing wide-legs and flares for a few years. I find that they balance out the upper half nicely, and DON’T make you look bigger, no matter what anybody says. They give that hourglassy illusion that is so appealing.

    Long tops with shorter, military jackets: The long top comes all the way down over the admittedly larger stomach, hiding it nicely, but the shorter jacket breaks up the long expanse, making it look as if you have a smaller upper half. Why military styling? The long parallel rows of buttons and high neck have an effect I like to call “lock-and-load” that trims things down right proper. Plus you can flash a bit of cleavage by leaving the top buttons undone. When worn with those wide-leg jeans, this look is incredibly versatile.

    Double-breasted trenchcoats: I don’t CARE if they’re said to expand your waist. I find that a fitted A-line trench which fits and doesn’t strain at the buttons makes the waist trimmer and emphasizes the cleavage. I would suggest an A-line version around mid- to upper-thigh-length. Belting it is a bad idea, though; it breaks up the slimming vertical line of buttons in the front, and creates an unflattering “blousy” effect that only skinny flat girls can pull off (though why anyone would want to, I do not know). I like to pull the belt tight and tie it in the back: it emphasizes the waist and doesn’t ruin the line of the coat. I have a black double-breasted trench that I wear ALL THE TIME, and I always feel so chic in it.

    I’m also a big fan of the dress-over-pants look, but it must be a dress with a shorter hem over fairly trim flares: the dress has to stop above the knee so you can see the pants trimming in before flaring, or else it looks a bit weird and swampy.

    Those are the ones I use more than anything else. I’ve found that empire tops don’t really work for me: they just emphasize the emergence of my stomach from my waist. I would like to point out that the thing that makes you look skinniest or most hourglassy is not always the best thing. One of my favorite tops is drapey and does NOT make me look skinny — it possibly even adds a couple pounds– but it’s such a lovely fabric and color that I always get compliments on it. Even if I don’t feel slender in it, I feel magnificent and majestic: it just feels so wonderful and swishy against me, and the SOUND of this lovely fabric is not to be believed! Based on this, the only real advice I can give you is to take risks, try things you don’t think you’ll like, and wear what makes you feel fab.

    Comment by The Dot — October 1, 2007 @ 10:44 pm

  10. I’m going to have to disagree with a lot of the comments here. While certain empire waist things can work, I find that wrap tops and the kimono-style with the big band across the ribcage simply emphasize the fact that I have a large and squishy ribcage. This is especially noticeable when I sit down and it all expands – if all I had to to was stand, there’d be a lot more clothes I could wear. Being short-waisted means it takes a lot of trial and error, but finding the right button-down shirt that’s slightly fitted or seamed and has a shirttail hem is a godsend. I also wear a lot of scoop or v-neck boxy tops that hit at hip length (just long enough to hide the belly) with pants that are fitted in the hips and thighs or bias-cut skirts.

    Comment by KellyGirl — October 6, 2007 @ 6:59 pm

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