Skip to Content

Trumpet vs. Mermaid Dress

This is a close look into the trumpet dress and the mermaid dress showcasing their similarities and differences along with the advantages, disadvantages, and history.

This is a woman wearing a long black mermaid dress.

Are you shopping for your wedding dress? Or do you have a black-tie event to attend? Dramatic, sexy, alluring, yet at the same time, high fashion and elegant, the trumpet dress and mermaid dress are definite show stoppers.

But what is the difference between each silhouette, and which should you choose?

A trumpet dress features a silhouette that is close-fitting around the waist and hips, flaring out around the mid-thigh. The mermaid dress silhouette fits snugly all the way down to below the knee; it then flares out just below the knee, creating what looks like a mermaid tail.

For the past few decades, dresses that feature a fitted bodice and a skirt that flares out have been a coveted trend in wedding dresses and evening gowns. And for a good reason! This style of dress is flattering on a range of body shapes.

Features Of A Trumpet Dress

This is a woman wearing a white trumpet dress.
  • The shape of this dress style resembles a trumpet; the bodice fits snuggly all the way from the torso to the hips and then starts to flare out from mid-thigh.
  • Since trumpet dresses flare at the thigh, they create the illusion of longer legs.
  • The skirt of a trumpet dress flares out more gradually and can continue into a train. This creates an effortlessly elegant look.
  • The trumpet silhouette may be a bit easier to move in than the mermaid silhouette.

Features Of A Mermaid Dress

Woman wearing a white mermaid dress by the sea.
  • Like a mermaid, the mermaid-style dress hugs the body from the bodice down to the knees, where it flares out into a dramatic skirt.
  • Full and prominent the skirt can continue to flare out into a train of any length.
  • The skirt may also feature details like sequins, lace, ruffles, or beading.
  • The skirt of the mermaid dress is sudden, creating a dramatic contrast between the top and bottom of the dress.

Trumpet or Mermaid Dress: Which Style Should You Choose?

You may have your heart set on a mermaid dress. Or perhaps you cannot decide between the two. Whether you are shopping for your dream wedding gown or an evening dress for a gala event, keep these factors in mind.

Mobility and Freedom of Movement

This is a woman wearing a blue trumpet dress by the window.

Mermaid-style dresses are harder to move around in because the flare falls at or below the knee. When shopping for your dress, try to walk in it for a bit. This will give you an idea of how much freedom of movement you will have in the dress.

If you plan to dance until your feet hurt, consider a trumpet-style dress, which is far easier to move in.

A Silhouette to Flatter Your Body Type

This is a woman wearing a cream colored mermaid dress that has a long slit.

Mermaid silhouettes are bold and daring. They accentuate and enhance curves, so they will be the dress of choice if you are after a sexy and curvy style. Mermaid dresses are most flattering on natural curves and hourglass-shaped bodies.

The mermaid silhouette is also flattering on inverted triangle body shapes (top-heavy or broader shoulders). The full skirt at the bottom of the dress will balance out broad shoulders; the tight-fitting bodice will accentuate hips and curves, creating a sultry yet elegant look.

Trumpet dresses are most flattering on pear-shaped and hourglass-shaped bodies. They accentuate curves but fit less snugly at mid-thigh, allowing more room for movement.

This is not to say that you cannot wear a mermaid or trumpet-style dress if you do not have curves. Try on a few different styles to find a dress that brings out the best in you.

If you are conscious of your mid-section, choose another dress style as the mermaid and trumpet are figure-hugging, leaving little room to hide.

Mermaid and trumpet dresses are also fabulous for petite women. A full skirt can be overwhelming on a smaller frame. Mermaid dresses are particularly flattering on petite women because the bodice elongates the upper body.

Your Dress Should Match Your Personality

This is a woman wearing a pink stylish trumpet dress.

The dress you wear should be an extension of your personality. The mermaid dress is a bold and daring style. It highlights every curve. To pull it off, you need to have a good dose of confidence and enjoy flaunting your natural curves.

The trumpet dress is sexy in a more subtle way. So if you are more conservative, but would like elegance with a sultry touch, go for a trumpet style. 

History of the Mermaid and Trumpet Dress

This is a woman wearing a red mermaid dress.

The mermaid silhouette can be traced back to the end of the 19th century. During this time, fashion was moving away from maximum width. Women started wearing corsets to create narrow waists and accentuated hips, with skirts flaring into fish or mermaid tails.

These dresses were constricting and forced women to take smaller steps.

During the 1880s, fashion evolved to dresses with puffed flanks; this created a more distinctive silhouette at the waist, which flared down into a skirt, vaguely resembling what we now know as the trumpet silhouette.

It was during the 1930s that French designer Marcel Rochas created the iconic mermaid dress. Rochas was well known for his hourglass styles that paid tribute to the female form.

In the 1950s, the mermaid silhouette became a firm favorite among Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, and Dorothy Dandridge, who wanted a style that was both sexy and feminine.

The trumpet and mermaid style of dress continues to be a popular choice for women to wear on their wedding day, on the red carpet, or during other special events.


Given the choice, I would go for a trumpet-style dress. Not only does it offer more movement but it is both flattering and alluring. Whether you opt for a mermaid-style dress or a trumpet silhouette, you need to feel confident and comfortable when you slip on the dress.

They are most flattering on the hourglass, inverted triangle, and pear-shaped bodies. However, with a bit of effort, those not blessed with natural curves will be able to find mermaid or trumpet-style dress that works with their body shape. The most important thing is to wear this style of dress with confidence.


Pretty Happy Blog: Trumpet vs. Mermaid Wedding Dresses – What’s the Difference?

Moonlight Bridal: Trumpet vs. Mermaid Dress

New York Dress: Trumpet vs. Mermaid Dress

Yolancris: Mermaid Dress: history and inspiration