Dressing the petite plus sized Apple shape is challenging.
The 'fashion' industry do not cater for us. We simply get sizes 2-12, upsized for our body shape, leaving all sorts of inadequacies, from waistlines that do not accommodate little tums, to darts appearing in the wrong places, bodices that are too long or too short, skirts that make us look like a cake topper...the list goes on.
One alternative is to do what I have done for so long, and simply wear flowing shapeless garments, which mind you, do have their charm in the right context, and give up trying to look sleek and lean, at all. Because for many of us (most of us?), 'sleek and lean' is the goal. Not necessarily thin, but just taller and with a lithe silhouette. And guess what? You don't need to be a skinny Minnie to achieve it.
Which brings me to another alternative. You might remember that I've invested some time in educating myself on the topic of how to dress my short, cuddly self. I've not regretted this for a moment, and I've learned so much from Marie-Anne Lecouer and her French Chic Academy, since I joined in December last year. The first thing she taught me through her Apple Shape e-course, was that the details matter. A simple idea like keeping our hemlines at, or just below our knee to lengthen the leg, or the tip that low cut shoes that show a little 'toe cleavage', and shoes in a nude shade, make ones legs appear longer, and thus we appear taller, makes the world of difference.
I've also learned that wearing navy blue as seen above, is softer and more flattering than black (my perennial favourite), and long necklaces like my new strand of Baroque pearls custom made by Laura at JaguarJems on Etsy, also seem to lengthen the torso, drawing the eye to the vertical, a slimming illusion.
Two years ago, I attended my brothers wedding. It was a casual affair, in one of our lovely parks where I live. Aiming for the look on the left, I misguidedly wore my interpretation...a light floral cotton shift (aforementioned shapeless garment to the rescue), and my much loved Lanvin ballet flats.
I was happy enough when I looked in the mirror at home, but in all of the photographs, I look short and dumpy...lol!
Here is where I made my mistakes:
The dress was light and comfortable for a steamy hot day, but pink all over, is not flattering on me, and the light colour actually adds bulk to my frame, as do the gathered sleeves and neckline. I'm not usually a fan of prints, but this one seemed appropriate. Now I see that it's just Granny-ish...definitely NOT a look I am trying to cultivate.
The dress on the left, has waistline detail, giving at least the illusion of a waistline, whereas my pink dress did not. The model on the left, wore high heels with low toe cleavage to make her legs look longer and to give her height. I wore ballet flats with top of foot detail, shortening my leg, and making me look even more height challenged than I already am at 5'3" tall. The hemline of the models dress just hits the knee lending length to her leg, mine is below the knee, cutting me off along my shin. She wears her hair up, to lengthen her neck and lend a sense of occasion and again, height. I wore mine down, making me look a bit half-hearted, and short. I wore no jewellery, believing the floral pattern to be 'busy' enough, so at least I was on the mark there.
Since taking some advice from Marie-Anne Lecouer though, my favourite Special Occasion dress is the black wrap dress you see above here on the right. I'd heard how wrap dresses were flattering for the Apple shape, and I had this one. But I couldn't make it work for me. Again, the devil was in the detail. Instead of tying the wrap ties around my waist, I tied them under my bustline. This gives a curvy silhouette, rather than just a rectangular one. Instead of filling the V neckline with a necklace, I added dangling Baroque pearl earrings, adding length to my torso and neck. I stopped trying to wear Ballerina Flats with everything, and found some heels that I could tolerate, and abandoned the idea of ankle straps in all forms, as they just make my legs look shorter. If I wear this dress now, I also usually wear my hair up in a French Chignon, to give the illusion of a long neck and cleavage, and to draw the eye upwards.
Think 'heels, hats, and hair in an up-do, to add height' for we Petite Plus Sized Apple shapes.
I think these strategies make a huge difference. I have to add that I wouldn't wear the pink floral fascinator just anywhere. It was an addition for a Raceday event. I would however, entertain other hair accessories and styles, to continue that illusion of length and height.
As for the crime of covering all ills in flowing fabric, yes, guilty. What about you my Apple shaped compatriot? It seems such an obvious solution really, until you look back and digest how you really looked.
I cultivated a sort of grey, vaguely arty look for quite some time during my Mummy years. The short bob haircut was part of that too. This look below wasn't all bad, but my hair is not at it's most flattering at this length, I see that I badly needed a bra fitting (high chest is a youthful chest!), and that even my bag, wasn't doing me any favours. You see, it isn't just about scale with bags as many fashion advisors would have us believe. It's also about not adding bulk to our silhouette, for we Apple shaped ladies. A slim envelope clutch has remedied this dilemma nowadays. Round hoop earrings add a 'round' illusion to the figure, whereas a long dangling earring add length to the neck, so now I prefer a longer earring, like my baroque pearls, to hoops.
The wrist cuff, similarly does me no favours, cutting the length of my arm, and yelling 'shortie'! too. So much again, for the idea of 'scale'. Bracelets for us, should be statement, yes. But not necessarily cuffs that shorten the arm. Softer chain and link style adornments, that sit down low on the hand when you hang your arm down, is another body lengthening trick of the eye.
As for my hair, well I've found over the years, that length is good for me. Shoulder length or longer is the most flattering and slims my face. Above, I look quite round in the face, and heavy in the body, thanks to the Empire line shroud type garment that I previously believed was flattering, the shorter hair, and the accessories as detailed.
Below, I look more slender, taller, and the navy blue flatters my fair complexion and silver hair, as opposed to the grey clothing and artificially dyed hair, seen above. Pearls are known to add a glow to anyones complexion, and the bootcut jeans, slim fitting shirt, and elbow length cardi, are just right for every day wear.
One last before and after look. I've shown you the photo on the left here before. This was my favourite every day Mummy look just five short months ago. The shirt is silk, and I quite loved my ripped 3/4 jeans, I am ashamed to say. Now my favourite every day Mummy look, is more like the one above, or this one here on the right. Black slim cut, full length pants, a black fitted button down shirt with a bit of stretch, a simple black bolero with a small frill around the edges, and black patent leather ballet flats. The only jewellery here is pearl studs and a pearl bracelet (thankyou A for that gift). No arm shortening cuffs, no necklace here, as the frill adds interest, and an up-do to add a bit of a dressy note.
I feel all grown up these days. Now if I shop for clothes, I have a detailed list, or I don't bother shopping. I've given away all of my 3/4 pants and ripped jeans. Again, this is advice I'd seen before, but not really taken much notice of, until starting my French Chic journey. I've added comfortable heels and wedges to my wardrobe of shoes, and as much as I love scarves with a passion, I've come to accept that wearing them up around my neck, is not flattering either. Long scarves with tails, or Infinity scarves are key for Apple Shapes. Again, remember you're looking for looooong and lean.
So here I am, a third of the way through my New Year, New You learning. I am really proud of how far I've come, and I hope so very much, that I've encouraged you to reassess the way you present yourself. I can tell you that I have found a whole new self-confidence at the age of 57, and I am starting to see that my days of looking my best, are ahead of me, not behind me.
What about you? Tell me everything....