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Oversized pear shape

by Marle

I am 5'3", pear/apple shape and I weigh 188 pounds. I was a pear shape when I was young with large thighs and saddlebags, tiny waist and bra size C34. My weight was between 120-125. I have an oval face shape.

I always was able to camouflage my lower shape but now I don't know what to do.

Should I:

  • Wear skirts or dresses with small bottom circumferences, such as pencil skirts or A Line?

  • What should be the length of the skirts, at knee or below the knee?

  • Should jackets hit below the waist or cover the derriere?

  • Are capes better suited than jackets and coats, and what length would be appropriate?

I always have problems with the bottoms of blouses/jackets not fitting yet the top part fitting. It is so frustrating.

Thank you for your help.

Jane's answer... Marle, I gather you think you may now have an apple horizontal shape? An apple body shape has a very large tummy area, large enough that you look 5 months, or more, pregnant.

If that isn't you, then even if you no longer have a tiny waist, you still have a pear shape body. As well as the general recommendations for that shape see my answers to 2 specific questions for the pear body shape.

At 5'3" your height is classed as petite. For my recommendations below I assume you have a balanced vertical body shape and an oval or diamond horizontal shape.

How to dress the petite apple body shape

Your general styling aims are to:
  • Create the illusion of a taller and slimmer shape

  • Balance your shoulders to your hips

  • Bring attention to your face and away from your tummy

  • Avoid bulk and garment design details around your hips, thighs and stomach

To answer your specific questions:

  • Your best skirt shapes are those that fall in a subtle A-line, or straight. Your best dress silhouettes are soft A-line, straight and slightly shaped at the waist. Go for styles that don't cling to your body, in soft flowing fabric that is firm enough to create a smooth line over your stomach, hips and thighs (or wear shapewear, or a thin under-layer, to create a smooth silhouette). If the skirt (or dress) is tapered, as in a pencil skirt, it will emphasize your hips and your tummy.

  • Your best skirt and dress lengths will be around the knee, including at the top of the knee and the bottom of the knee

  • Your best jacket and top lengths will be at your knuckles (though do check that this is below the widest part of your hips). You can also finish tops at the top of your hip if you make the top or jacket a color similar to your bottoms, so you don't create a horizontal line in that area. Hems finishing at your first finger joint will also work if you wear at least a small heel and a straight skirt or pants and wear a high focal point to keep your proportions balanced.

  • Avoid capes, these are not going to be best for your shape. Even though it may feel comforting to hide your body a cape will make you look large all over. A single breasted, semi-fitted coat that flows through the waist will be best for you. It's length should be around knee length, or your longer jacket lengths.


It's important to make sure your clothes are properly fitted. If you can't find clothes off-the-rack that fit you perfectly buy to fit your hips and stomach and make sure you factor in tailoring, or alter it yourself, to make sure the garment fits properly everywhere.

To find out all the clothing details, including lengths, that suit your particular proportions I recommend you get the My Private Stylist program.

Related articles

> Not usual pear shape
> Dresses for pear shape body with love handles

> Take a look at my articles and answers for petite women here

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jane liddelow

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