How to Dress a Full Figure

A V-neck diverts attention from a rounded belly.

Once you know how to dress a full figure, you can embrace your womanly curves and show them off to advantage.

Basics of How to Dress a Full Figure

When it comes to the age-old question of how to dress a full figure, it's all about accentuating your assets and downplaying your flaws. Before you can do that, you need a good understanding of your basic shape. If you've ever seen several full-figured women in one place, you've probably noticed that the term full figure can actually be used to describe a variety of sizes and shapes. Not surprisingly, different shapes need to be dressed differently. Here are the basic shapes:

  • Apple: The best way to describe the apple-shaped body is round. Women with this shape tend to carry their extra pounds in the breasts, waist, and stomach.
  • Pear: Pear-shaped ladies carry the majority of their extra pounds below the waist, in the hips, thighs, rear, and legs.

Dressing the Apple Shaped Body

If you have a full, round, apple-shaped body, your best features are probably your full breasts, your sculpted calves, and your trim ankles. These are the features you want to show off! On the other hand, you'll need to disguise your full belly and thick waist. It's easy with these clothes.


Your best bet is to draw attention to your cleavage while minimizing focus on your tummy. Tops with a low, V-neckline do this beautifully. Avoid tops that are cut to the waist, as these draw attention to rolls and muffin tops. You'll fare much better with hip- or thigh-length tops. You should also avoid shirts that are tight at the midsection; this is one instance when a looser fit is actually slimming. Try baby dolls, empire waists, and flowing tunics in a solid color.


Don't be afraid to show off your slender legs and ankles! Short denim skirts are quite flattering to the apple's beautiful legs, as are long pencil skirts. Regardless of length, look for skirts with a higher, wider waist. Skirts in slightly heavier fabric, such as denim, leather, or linen, help hold in the tummy. Wrap skirts offer a bit of flexibility for a custom fit. A skirt in the same color as the shirt or in a complementary print looks great and helps lengthen your silhouette.


Pants are similar to skirts in that you'll want to look for wider, higher waists. Low riders and hip huggers are not the apple-shaped girl's friend as they tend to create the dreaded muffin top. Slightly high-waisted, flatfronted slacks, on the other hand, work well to create the illusion of a flatter tummy. If you're going to wear a print, it should be below the waist, in the skirt or pants.

Dressing the Pear Shaped Body

If you have a pear-shaped body, you likely hate your thighs. Logically, that's the area you want to minimize. You'll do this by drawing the eye up, to your small shoulders, breasts, and torso. These clothes will help.


Since you want to draw attention above the waist, tops are your chance to shine! You'll want to avoid tops that hit at the hips or thighs; either choose waist-length or ultra long styles. Blouses with cute detailing, such as side ties, at the waist are particularly good for pears. Interesting sleeves and detailed shoulders also draw the eye upwards. Try cap-sleeves, dolman sleeves, batwings, and bell sleeves. Printed tops and those in bright colors are ideal for the pear.


Since mini skirts hit in the upper to mid thigh area, you'll need to avoid these. You'll be much happier with longer styles. Opt for solid colored skirts, preferably in black, navy, or other dark shades. Remember, you are wearing an amazing top, so the skirt doesn't need to compete for attention.


Skinny jeans are out for the pear, but wide legged pants are a wonderful option. Not only are they roomy where you need it most, the wider look in the lower leg helps to balance out your shape. Low rise pants, or hip huggers, are also flattering.


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How to Dress a Full Figure