Body Shapes Explained – O Shape (apple)


The O or apple shape is the least common. To be an O shape your mid section needs to be wider than hips and shoulders. It tends to appear in the post-menopausal woman, when oestroegen is no longer produced in the same quantitites, and many women thicken around their waists.

An O is most likely to have been an H shape that is overweight, it’s unlikely that an X, A or 8 will turn into an O as they have the longer bodies which tend to retain a waisted shape.
The guide to dressing your O shaped body is to bypass the waist – don’t belt or draw attention to this widest section. Look for shapes that flow past, and focus attention on your face and legs.

V-neck, empire line tops and dresses work really well for you, as they skim past your stomach, draw attention to your face. Wearing a cotton/lycra tank top underneath will smooth out bumps and also stop too much cleavage being revealed, plus provide a little extra coverage if you choose a lovely light flowing fabric like chiffon, gorgette, silks or rayons.

Avoid closing up your neckline with high necklines, they will make you look dumpy, instead look for wider open necklines.

Look for dresses that finish at the knee to show off your shapely calves.

Pants or trousers need to fall in a stright line from the hip and skim your waist – so NO pleats PLEASE! Look for a straight, bootleg or wide leg trousers. Also avoid any sort of pocket detail near the waist so as not to draw attention there (that means cargo pants are out). Tapered styles are also a NO NO (please don’t be tempted).

Longer line jackets that skim past your waist can also flatter. Jackets are best worn open to create 2 slimming verticals.
All pics from


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  • I am not a fan of pleated pants on anybody. Something about pleated pants make me think of old men.My mind has a mind of its own and it is a mind that is very anti-pleats.;-)

  • Hmm…I thought I was becoming an O, but I am long waisted with a defined waist. However, due to pregnancy and extensive abdominal surgery, I have a large belly.

    Pre baby I was an X, with rather larger thighs. My hips are just barely smaller than my shoulders, and my waist is defined…but I feel more A shape these days because of my tummy.

    And pleats…ugh.

  • Mrs Makeover – The short waisted pregnant woman would definitely be and O, but some with long waists just get that basketball at the front look, rather than the extra width at the side during pregnancy, so they become an H with a protruding stomach.

  • Hi Imogen, can I know why Elizabeth Hurley, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angelina Jolie are categorized as apple from some of the websites I read? I thought the mid-section need to be wider than shoulders and hips in order to be an apple. Do you think these celebrities fall into apple category?

    • Absolutely no idea! They are not apples in the sense that I understand it. There is so much dodgy information out there sadly. Catherine is an 8 shape, Liz is a V and Angelina could be a slim 8 shape (she sometimes goes a bit V too, depending how much she’s bulked up her shoulders).

  • Hi, Imogen,

    On me, knit tops/dresses with empire waists with pleats underneath (like the green top pictured above) draw “are you pregnant?” comments. I have some understanding of why empire waists would be recommended (because they cinch the narrowest part of your torso?) but not why pleats flowing out from that narrow point over your widest point would be recommended. Especially from the side, I imagine that this silhouette is one of my most unflattering!…???

    Thanks for any guidance you could provide!

  • I have been wearing the long, open cardigan look but how do you keep them from creeping behind your arms? I am definitely an O shape (narrow shoulders and hips, large bust and protruding large belly) and the cardigan fronts just fall back from the mountains like an army retreating.

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