Mermaid Wedding Dresses: Everything You Need To Know About The Fishtail Style!

The mermaid wedding dress design is a classic. Sometimes also called fishtail, mermaid or trumpet style gowns, the clue with this style is most definitely in the name.

A fishtail wedding dress is a figure-hugging design, which can be matched with lots of different bodice styles and clings all the way down until it flares out at the knee. This is a real move away from many traditional wedding gowns which flare out from the waist. Fishtail dresses can feature a long or a short train depending on preference – either look spectacular and there are numerous different style options.

Fishtail wedding gown can be seriously clingy, or they can be softened with layers of lace into a more romantic silhouette. Bodices may be sleeveless or feature straps or full sleeves, the style also works with sweetheart necklines, boat neck lines and off the shoulder designs. This style of dress can be backless or with a covered back section.

View the fishtail or mermaid wedding dresses for sale here on Bride2Bride

What is the story of the mermaid wedding dress?

The French designer, Marcel Rochas, introduced the mermaid style of gown in the 1930s. It was not aimed at brides at this point but was a new dress design which the bridal industry then adopted.

Think about what had gone before. The straight, boxy lines of 1920s fashion with loose, unfitted dresses, flat chests and short bob haircuts. Rochas wanted to put the power back into femininity, and this was his homage to the female form. The hourglass style went on to become something of a trademark for him.

Rochas was known for his accessible pricing and so these new dresses were within the pocket of many women not just the very rich. The style endured and the Mermaid Gown as it was called was a popular choice for Hollywood actress some twenty years later in the 1950s. It represented the perfect fusion of glamour and femininity.

Celebrity endorsement

There have been many famous faces who have showcased a stunning fishtail design on their wedding day. When Beyonce married Jay Z in April 2008, her mother designed her dress – apparently, she wasn’t crazy about it! This fishtail gown had an exaggerated sweetheart neckline, a strapless body and an elaborate ruched and ruffled fishtail train.

In 2019, Hailey Baldwin married Justin Bieber wearing a classic fishtail wedding dress made by Virgil Abloh of Off-White. This was a form-fitting long sleeved lace fishtail gown with an off the shoulder neckline and a trailing veil with the slogan, “Dill Death Do Us Part” embroidered along the bottom.

For fishtail and then some, the singer, Kandi Barruss, took the concept and then ran with it when she wed Todd Tucker in April 2014. This gown was designed by Reco Chapple and featured an illusion mesh top, hand-stitched Swarovski crystals and a 12-foot mermaid swirl and train made from ostrich feathers.

Top dress designers

Most wedding dress designers, ranging from the niche to the high street through to the big names, will feature a fishtail wedding dress as part of their collection. View all the dress designers here on Bride2Bride. This mermaid style remains universally popular so whatever your budget, there will always be a good selection of dresses to choose from.

  • Take a look at this beautiful satin gown from Justin Alexander with a flattering and feminine sweetheart neckline, no back and discrete sparkling belt contrasting with a ruched and feminine apron skirt of tulle and organza, the stylish shaping perfectly complementing the sleek figure hugging lines of the main dress
  • The designer, Madeline Cardner, is the main force behind Morilee with a stunning selection of mermaid gowns to suit all sizes and shapes. Take a look at Dixie, a curve-hugging mermaid gown with bold sleeves, a sculptured V-neck and swirling frosted Alencon lace. The oversized bell sleeves are a beautiful addition plus there is a sophisticated keyhole back and sheer train creating a romantic and ethereal look
  • If you want to really emphasise the fishtail style, then the Zephyrine gown from Enzoani is the ultimate in mermaid glamour. Super sleek Mikado silk drapes across the bodice are partnered with a uber modern curved neckline. Tight fitting across the waist and hips, the fishtail strikes out into a dramatic layered soft tulle skirt creating the most startling silhouette. Enzoani is a devotee of the fishtail style with numerous gowns many crafted with a modern twist and so many variations on the theme for the bride to be to choose from
  • This beautiful gown by designer, Lillian West, is proof that lace can work for fishtail gowns. This all-over lace gown has a beautiful illusion bodice and plunging neckline, it is alluringly feminine whilst retaining a soft, romantic look. The dress itself is lace tulle with pretty detailing on the front and back and a scalloped train

Which body shapes does a fishtail wedding gown work well with?

For a bride who is uber slim, a fishtail dress can give the illusion of curves that may not be there. It makes sense therefore that the dress will also highlight curves so if this is something you are seeking to disguise or minimise, then this may not be the design for you.

Having said that, the fishtail wedding gown is one of the most versatile of wedding dresses and never really goes out of fashion, so it is always possible to craft your own style based around this design to suit your body shape. A clever dress designer can soften and sculpt the look so that it works for you.

Whatever type of bodice design you want for your dress, the mermaid gown will work with it; this is one design which accommodates virtually every type of neckline.

Most fishtail wedding dresses are full length, but they don’t have to be. Choose a shorter style to the knee and then flare the fish tail out with the legs exposed from the front for a Spanish line.

Variations on the fishtail theme

Fishtail wedding dresses are a design that lend themselves to a variety of different fabrics and often incorporate more than one. Silk, satin, organza and taffeta are popular choices, these materials flow and move beautifully as the bride walks.

It you want to make the fishtail spectacular then opt for layers and layers of tulle. For a softer, more romantic look, delicate lace overlays can create a dreamy effect or, for that statement wow impact, opt for sleek, figure-hugging satin, no holds barred.

The fishtail design is one which can be adapted to really any fabric and any amount of decoration or embellishment. Super sleek bodies in satin can be matched with exuberant fishtails in tulle, organza or even real feathers.

Colours for fishtail wedding dresses

Designers who have a good range of styles will usually offer a variety of pale colours over above the standard white. Commonly this will include ivory, champagne, oyster, sand and nude. Some designers will splash out with a different coloured fishtail to the main dress.

Because the fishtail style is not confined to wedding dresses, it is pretty easy to find a gown in this style in a different colour palette if you want to go strong and bold.

View the wedding dresses for sale by colour

View all the mermaid wedding dresses for sale on Bride2Bride

Pros and Cons of the fishtail dress design

One of the main advantages of this style is its popularity so for the bride to be, this means an almost endless choice of styles, necklines, trains, fabrics and colours to choose from.

The mermaid design doesn’t really date, it is a timeless look popular through the decades, so this is one dress style that won’t look old-fashioned in your wedding photos several years down the line.

For brides who want a plain unadorned look then there are plenty of designers to choose from or, you can opt for something completely over the top with loads of embellishment, the choice is yours.

One of the main drawbacks to the fishtail wedding gown is comfort. If you opt for a super figure-hugging dress, then it can become hot and restrictive after several hours’ wear. There are fishtail styles which are a little looser and softer in design and these are more comfortable to wear for long periods.

Many fishtail gowns are made from satin, and this can wrinkle and crease easily, especially if you continue to wear the dress throughout the wedding reception. This can completely spoil the effect once you have sat in the dress for a while.

Top Tips for choosing a fishtail wedding dress

  • Don’t be put off by the standard sleek satin version which you might think only suits super slim brides, fishtail wedding gowns are very popular, and most designers will include several styles in their collections
  • Break the dress down into parts and think about the neckline that would suit you best, whether or not you want sleeves, how the back should look and finally, what do you want for the train
  • Because fishtail dresses are so popular, many are available in a wide variety of light colours, a variation on the theme of white so ivory, oyster, champagne, nude and sand. There is bound to be one to suit your skin tones

Conclusion

Fishtail wedding dresses are the epitome of glamour and elegance. They can be bold and striking or muted and softly romantic. Satin is usually the base fabric, but many designers use a range of materials and decoration. Fishtail is one of the most versatile styles of wedding dress with an enduring popularity which means plenty of choice for the bride and a look which just doesn’t date.

Sell your fishtail wedding dress