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

March 22, 2008

Advice for the Apple-shaped girl

Filed under: Fashion,You Asked For It — Francesca @ 10:00 pm

Our internet friend Avirr asks a Very Important Question about the prom dress:

Could you mention whether your examples would work on apple-shaped women, and if not, what to look for? Not that I will ever need a prom dress again, but I am trying to visualize clothes on me, and having a hard time.

Ayyy! It is indeed extremely difficult  to find prom dresses – or any dresses – for the Apple.

This is because the Empire waist is currently in vogue, and Empire waists are Not Our Friends. They are wonderful for the Pears, or for women who are a bit Racktastic up top and slim below, but for Apples . . . oy! That is all Francesca can say. Oy!

So, Francesca’s first advice for Apples is: When you see an Empire waist, hold tight to your credit card and back away, slowly.

Second: No sashes at the waist. We want to create one long line from the cleavage to the hem, or at least to the hips, yes?

And her third advice is something she has said before, and she will say it again: Princess Seams are not just our friends, they are our Fairy Godmothers. Those two precious seams down the front of your dress or shirt will help you look indeed like a beautiful, superfantastic Princess and not like the Empire-waisted pregnant whale. (Not that there is anything wrong with pregnant whales. If that is in fact what you are. In which case, Francesca wants to know: How did you learn to read? And why are you looking for a dress?)

And if there are two parallel seams in the back, even better.

Fourth is something that may or may not pertain to our dear Avirr. Francesca notes that the lumpy-squishiness of the arms is something to which many Apples are prone. We have discussed here at length the unnecessariness of covering the arms if you feel great about your arms. But every woman has something they would rather leave for private moments, and for many Apples, it is the upper arms. For this reason, the fact that strapless gowns are everywhere is even more painful than the ubiquitous Empire waist!

But do not despair, there are gowns to be had with sleeves, and — even more useful — there are the delightful little jackets and shrugs which can be mixed and matched with many styles of the strapless gowns.

Francesca hath spoken!



  1. Are princess seams just for apples? I’m more in the hourglass/pear category and I’ve always found them flattering–they help emphasize the waist and draw the eye upward (no?). So is it that they are particularly beneficial for apples? Are they “bad” for anyone?

    Comment by jamy — March 23, 2008 @ 12:31 am

  2. Francesca says:

    No, I do not believe they are “bad” for anyone. But Francesca is thinking that the itty-bitty girl who wears a Size 2 does not NEED the princess seams. Of course she can wear them if she wants, and will look just fine.

    The girls for whom princess seams are life savers are the apples and the women of large chests. The structured, hourglass shape of the shirts and dresses with princess seams make a tremendous difference and turn what could be a circle or a rectangle silhouette into something akin to the hourglass.


    Comment by Francesca — March 23, 2008 @ 8:49 am

  3. yes yes.

    Oh Francesca I do love you. I am soft and round but I have awful scars on my arms and am an apple. I love that by reading your advice there is finally something that advises me it is OKAY to cover up my arms and how to do it. (I am ‘doing it right’- but GOD it is awful to try to go to the bar and look pretty and not overly conservative)

    That is why I like the goth/industrial. Sleeves? Fishnets? You can be covered head to toe and still look like a bombshell. However that is something that normal clothes don’t do so much. What to wear to a normal club that looks awesome and is not skin left right and center?

    Comment by katana — March 23, 2008 @ 11:23 am

  4. Thank you! My upper arms are OK, it’s my waist, or what used to be my waist, that is the issue. So princess seams it is.

    Just FYI, when I was making medieval costumes, I discovered that I could get the same graceful curve effect with a seam down the middle front (also: a zillion times more authentic than princess seams). So it doesn’t seem to matter whether there are one or two or presumably three seams in the front, as long as there are any!

    Comment by avirr — March 23, 2008 @ 3:00 pm

  5. The Annalucia, she is feeling her age. She has just read the comments of the katana and realized that she has no idea what “goth/industrial” means.

    She is also a pronounced Apple, and thanks the Francesca for the refresher course in how to dress oneself attractively. Personally she never, *ever* goes sleeveless except when she wears the bathing suit. For the rest she favors the deep V neck (she has enough of a bust to justify this) and the wrap front which gives at least the illusion of a waist.

    Comment by Annalucia — March 24, 2008 @ 9:11 am

  6. Francesca, I love your writing, but I couldn’t disagree more. I find princess seams to be extraordinarily unflattering to my Apple shaped figure. They don’t give the illusion of a waist, they call attention to the fact that I don’t have one.

    A well cut Empire dress, on the other hand, can be very flattering. The only problem is that it’s near impossible to find one. The skirt portion needs to be a drapey fabric, like rayon or a knit, not something with body. The best cut is an A-line or flared skirt with few or no gathers to the bodice. The bodice should be cut long enough to come all the way to the bottom of the bust area, where a well fitted bra band sits. A dress like this will skim over the body and gently conceal the lack of waistline.

    Comment by Margo — March 24, 2008 @ 1:07 pm

  7. Margo-

    Thank you for writing! Francesca is not afraid to be disagreed with!

    Your comment is a reminder that, as always, a woman must dress in a way that suits HER, and there are always exceptions to the rule.

    Also, Francesca believes that this may depend on just how Appley one is. A woman who is a little poochy may do better with an empire waist than the woman who, like Francesca, already looks many months pregnant!

    Comment by Francesca — March 26, 2008 @ 5:35 am

  8. I have to agree with Margo, Francesca. I’m the prodigiously be-racked lovechild of an apple and an hourglass and, while I will agree the princess line is highly flattering, I’m a great proponent of the empire line and love it madly.

    Comment by buffpuff — March 27, 2008 @ 8:35 pm

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