Fit-and-Flare vs. Mermaid Wedding Dresses

Chances are you’ve heard all about mermaid wedding dresses before, but perhaps fit-and-flare wedding dresses are a little less familiar. Or maybe you’ve done enough shopping so far to come across both terms, along with a third type: the trumpet wedding dress! Simply looking at these styles online makes it tricky to really pick apart the difference between the three, and often people will use the names for these three wedding dress styles interchangeably. Your Avery Austin bridal experts are here to clue you in so you can be the expert next time you shop for one of these gorgeous styles!

What’s the Difference Between Fit-and-Flare and Mermaid Wedding Dresses?

The main difference between fit-and-flare, trumpet, and mermaid wedding dresses is where the skirt begins to flare away from the fitted top, with fit-and-flare styles having the highest flare point and mermaid styles having the lowest. Read on to get all of the nitty-gritty details on these three popular wedding dress styles.

What is a Fit-and-Flare Wedding Dress?

As the name might suggest, a fit and flare wedding dress has a fitted bodice down over the hip area, and a skirt that flares out gradually just below the waistline. There are many different styles of fit-and-flare wedding gowns, including the mermaid and trumpet styles (more on those soon!). Let’s discuss some of the pros and cons of fit-and-flare wedding dresses.

A great feature of fit-and-flare dresses is how they accentuate the waist and highlight a woman’s natural curves, giving an elongating effect when the dress fits just right. With the way it draws the eyes to the waistline, this style looks best on ladies with slender waists. The gentle skirt flare that starts just below the waistline makes this style a favorite of brides who love the shape of the mermaid style but prefer to draw attention away from the hips. They can come in a variety of fabrics, necklines, and train lengths, so there are endless options when it comes to finding a fit-and-flare wedding dress that meets all your expectations.

On the other hand, fit-and-flare wedding dresses are not as flattering to brides with a straight body shape, since these brides look best in styles that can create the illusion of curves. The snug flow of the fit-and-flare style will only emphasize a lack of curves in this case.

Are Fit-and-Flare Wedding Dresses Comfortable?

Yes! Thanks to the gradual flare that starts much higher than the mermaid wedding dress style (as you’ll see below), fit-and-flare wedding dresses are comfortable to walk and dance in, yet still have the curvy appeal of the snug bodice. This is a huge plus for brides looking to be as comfortable and sexy as possible on the big day.

What is a Mermaid Wedding Dress?

A mermaid wedding dress has a fitted bodice all the way through the torso and thighs. Creating the shape of a fishtail, the skirt fans out right below the knees, which is what gives this style the “mermaid” title. Mermaid bridal gowns are characterized by their dramatic skirts, typically made of structured materials like tulle and other fabrics, which makes the skirt distinct from the rest of the bodice. Now that you’ve got the perfect visual for mermaid wedding dresses, it’s time to dive into the pros and cons for this style.

The iconic silhouette and dramatic, show-stopping look are the main draws to this gorgeous style. With its hip-hugging design, a mermaid wedding dress lets brides show off their curves in a way that is both elegant and glamorous. If sexy sophistication is the look you crave for your wedding day, mermaid wedding dresses are the perfect way to achieve it.

The most important caution to keep in mind with this style is that mermaid wedding dresses can be flattering for some brides, but unfortunately not for all. By hugging curves from the bust down to the knees, your whole figure is showcased with special emphasis on the hips. If you want to flaunt all of your curves, then this design is a definite perk! If you prefer not to bring attention to your hips or other aspects of your natural figure, then this is not the style for you. Given the tighter-fitting silhouette down past the knee, you’ll also want to keep in mind that mermaid wedding dresses require brides to walk in smaller strides, which makes it difficult to walk or dance. Even still, they look amazing for the walk down the aisle and the unforgettable ceremony, so many brides are willing to manage the restricted movement. If you’re curious about how to walk or dance in a mermaid wedding dress, read up on some of Avery Austin’s suggestions below the mermaid wedding dress collection, then shop for your fave styles too!

Are Mermaid Wedding Dresses Comfortable?

When sized and fitted appropriately to your figure, they can feel comfortable and flattering! However, this is a style that is very form-fitting all the way to the knees. This snug fit can be exhausting over time, making a long day of photos, I do’s, and dancing feel even longer, especially if you will be in a very hot setting that makes you sweat. Keep in mind the length of your day, the location of your venue, and the amount of time you plan to spend walking and dancing before you settle on a tight-fitting mermaid wedding dress.

What is a Trumpet Wedding Dress?

“Mermaid” and “trumpet” are often both used to describe any fit-and-flare wedding dress style, but as you’ve probably already noticed, the main difference between all of these styles always comes down to the skirt. The trumpet wedding dress is a solid middle-ground style between the typical fit-and-flare and mermaid wedding dresses because the skirt flares out at mid-thigh (lower than fit-and-flare skirts, higher than mermaid skirts). The silhouette for this type of gown has a similar shape to that of a trumpet or cone, which is how it got its name. Now let’s get down to pros and cons of trumpet wedding dresses.

Similar to the other fit-and-flare styles we’ve already explored, trumpet wedding dresses are perfect for brides who love their body’s natural silhouette, but should be avoided if you prefer to camouflage any part of the upper body. Typically, trumpet wedding dresses feature a straight-fit bodice that gives a little more breathing and wiggle room than that of the mermaid style. It also provides a more subtle alternative to the dramatic mermaid-style skirt.

Are Trumpet Wedding Dresses Comfortable?

Generally, trumpet wedding dresses are comfortable alternatives to the super snug mermaid style. With the skirt flare starting at mid-thigh, trumpet wedding dresses are easier to walk in than a mermaid bridal gown (though a standard fit-and-flare style is even easier). Overall, the style is much more forgiving on the walking and dancing front than a mermaid dress. To be really sure though, Avery Austin recommends giving your trumpet wedding dress a test walk when you try it on. If you can walk smoothly and comfortably, then you can most likely do your first dance and more with confidence.

How to Bustle a Trumpet, Fit-and-Flare, or Mermaid Wedding Dress

If you’re worried about whether or not a fit-and-flare wedding dress style can be bustled, don’t be! Gorgeous trains on fit-and-flare, trumpet, or mermaid wedding dresses can absolutely be bustled, often in much the same way as other bridal gown styles. Here are three types of bustle options that work well for the low-flare skirt design.

  • American Bustle (Over Bustle): Great for a variety of silhouettes, including fit-and-flare wedding dress styles, the American bustle has the train pulled up over the gown with secure points around the waist or hip area. A classic bustle style that’s easy to use, this option helps you get right back to enjoying your reception as quickly as possible!
  • French Bustle (Under Bustle): A beautiful option for fit-and-flare, trumpet, or mermaid wedding dresses, the French Bustle uses hidden fasteners under the skirt to pull the train up and in. The train is folded under itself to create a gentle, no-fuss billow in the back. The overall effect is simple, clean, and elegant.
  • Victorian Bustle (Royal Bustle): While most often used for princess-style ball gowns (think Beauty and the Beast), the Victorian Bustle can also be beautifully arranged on trumpet or fit-and-flare wedding dresses with simple, gently flared trains, as well as mermaid wedding dresses with dramatic skirt flares. For this bustle style, the train is tucked up under itself with a series of hooks and ribbons to create a tiered fold design that’s elaborate and elegant.

When it comes to choosing how to bustle your trumpet, fit-and-flare, or mermaid wedding dress, consider how the bustle style will impact your overall wedding look. The Victorian bustle can give just the right dramatic edge for a glamorous wedding theme, while a French bustle could fit right in with a modern wedding. Once you have your favorite look in mind, discuss your ideas with a seamstress to see what kind of bustle magic can be worked on your dream gown. Want to learn more about wedding dress bustles? Be sure to check out Avery Austin’s Wedding Dress Bustle Guide!

After exploring the ins and outs of fit-and-flare, trumpet, and mermaid wedding dresses, one thing is very clear: All three styles are a celebration of curves and the feminine silhouette! With the help of this guide, you should now feel confident recognizing the difference between each of the three designs and have a pretty good idea as to which one will best suit you as you walk down the aisle. If you still have questions, though, let Avery Austin help you find the perfect trumpet, fit-and-flare, or mermaid wedding dress for your big day. Start by getting in touch with our bridal experts today and we’ll help make your dream wedding a reality!