Fit and Flare vs Mermaid Wedding Dress (2024)

Distinguishing between fit and flare vs. mermaid wedding dresses often isn’t simple for brides-to-be. However, the difference becomes apparent after you learn each style’s characteristics.

Although both silhouettes are flared, they have more distinctions than similarities when you look closer.

Wedding dress shopping is an exciting moment. And while one can easily get overwhelmed by all the gorgeous styles, it’s important not to neglect practical points.

Consider your body type, wedding style, location, and comfort when picking your dress cut. A perfect dress compliments your figure and is appropriate for the setting.

Most importantly, choose a dress cut that fits your personality. If possible, try on both styles to understand in which style you feel more confident and attractive.

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Where the Flare Starts

Mermaid and fit and flare wedding dress cuts have a fitted bodice and flared skirt.

Technically, the mermaid wedding dress silhouette is a variation of fit and flare, although many bridal stylists define fit and flare as a distinct dress cut.

The main difference lies in where the flare begins. In fit and flare wedding dresses, the flare starts in the hip area, anywhere between the hip bone and upper thigh.

If the flare starts at the mid-thigh, the dress style is called a trumpet. Meanwhile, in a mermaid wedding dress, the flare starts at the knee or slightly above it, resembling a fishtail – hence the name.

Furthermore, in the fit and flare style, the skirt flares gradually, and the transitioning from the dress fitted part to the flare is never apparent or abrupt. Sometimes, a fit and flare dress may appear almost straight.

On the other hand, mermaid dresses often have a dramatic contrast between the fitted and the flared parts.

Fit and flare dresses can be knee-length or tea-length. Since a mermaid’s dress flare starts at the knee, it is always floor-length.

The Flare Size

Fit and flare style dresses rarely have a dramatic, puffy skirt. Typically, the flare is moderate, like in an A-line wedding gown. For this reason, the fit and flare dress style is sometimes called a modified A-line.

Fit and flare skirts are typically flowy, without crinoline or hoop underskirts. The silhouette is natural and well-balanced.

If a wedding dress has a voluminous skirt with an abrupt flare that starts at the upper thigh, it is most likely a trumpet style rather than a traditional fit and flare.

Mermaid wedding gowns can have different flare sizes and styles. Some have gradually flaring, moderately-sized skirts like in fit and flare dresses. On the other hand, many mermaid wedding dresses have extravagant, extra-voluminous skirts.

The volume may be achieved using fabric layering, ruffles, crinoline, or hooped underskirt. Both fit and flare and mermaid dress styles can have a train, but mermaid dresses more often have a cathedral train.

Since the classic fit and flare dress style assumes a moderately wide skirt, such gowns usually have a chapel train, but there can be exemptions.

For instance, some fit and flare dresses have an extra layer of fabric on the sides and back, comprising a long cathedral train.

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Although both mermaid and fit and flare wedding dress styles are tight at the top, one is more suitable for dancing.

As you may have guessed, the fit and flare silhouette is less restrictive as it doesn’t chinch the knees. Furthermore, the skirt is typically flowy and less voluminous. It’s one of the most comfortable wedding dress styles.

On the other hand, the mermaid wedding dress style is infamous for being the worst wedding dress style for dancing. Frankly, it isn’t the best style for walking, sitting, or taking the stairs either.

Mermaid dresses with a very tight bodice and a dramatic, voluminous skirt are a whole another type of uncomfortable since they both restrict the leg movement and get under the feet. On the stairs, such a dress becomes a real hazard.

The good news is that you can learn to walk and dance in any wedding dress style, including the mermaid cut. However, you will have to take small steps and constantly watch out for your dress’ hem.

Another point to note is that mermaid wedding dresses often have corseted bodices because they flaunt the waist. The corset helps to enhance the curves and eliminates concerns about a slim profile.

Tight corsets can be highly uncomfortable, especially after a good meal. Therefore, if your dress has a corset, make sure you have someone to assist in loosening it if needed.

Of course, fit and flare dresses also can have corsets, and some mermaid gowns have regular fabric bodices.

But designers insert corsets in mermaid gowns more often because they help to achieve a seductive, dramatic look typical for this style.

A strapless, extra-tight, corseted mermaid dress with a voluminous skirt and cathedral train is undoubtedly gorgeous. However, neglecting comfort for the sake of looks may prevent you from enjoying the day.

Consider waiving at least one of the features – for instance, refrain from the train and add sleeves, or choose a dress from a stretchy fabric that doesn’t restrict the leg movement as much.

Alternatively, you may get a second wedding dress for the reception to make everyone wow during the ceremony and hit the dancefloor afterward.

After all, not everyone loves dancing, but you should still be mindful of the stairs, especially if you have stiletto heels. Assistance may also be required when using the restroom.


Fit and flare and mermaid are arguably the most elegant, sophisticated wedding dress styles. They are perfect for confident brides who love to draw attention and are appropriate for the most exquisite venues.

However, the harmonious silhouette of fit and flare wedding dresses is more traditional and modest. It enhances the natural curves and gives a flirtatious touch but doesn’t create such a show-stopping effect as the mermaid style.

Mermaid wedding gowns won’t leave any bride unnoticed. Even the most minimalistic mermaid dress with a high neck is a fashion statement. In a sense, it’s a dramatic take on the fit and flare style.

For this reason, the fit and flare dress silhouette is more versatile. It suits any wedding style and setting, from regal to bohemian, nautical, and rustic.

It’s all about the design details, such as fabric, embellishments, and neckline style. For instance, a strapless fit and flare dress with an embellished corset and open back is a seductive style that requires a sophisticated setting.

Or, an ivory cotton and lace high neck fit and flare dress with balloon sleeves suits a bohemian or rustic bride. Although the skirt cut in both cases is the same, the styles are entirely different.

Of course, the hairstyle, makeup, and accessories also play a vital role in the bridal look. Meanwhile, mermaid wedding dresses don’t offer such freedom.

Although mermaid dresses can be made from different fabrics and have different top designs, the tight hip area along with the dramatic skirt flare make this style virtually unsuitable for laid-back weddings.

One may argue that a cotton and lace mermaid dress with minimalist detailing and a modest top is suitable for a rustic wedding or a backyard barbecue party.

However, the whole point of laid-back weddings is comfort and an informal atmosphere. A dress that compromises your comfort for the sake of looks contradicts the very idea.

Choose a mermaid dress if you believe that beauty is worth sacrificing comfort and strive for a high-fashion look, or a fit and flare gown if you prefer classic looks with a modern twist.

Body Type

The mermaid cut is one of the least forgiving wedding dress styles. It won’t conceal anything, hugging all curves, and requires immense confidence.

This doesn’t mean that the mermaid wedding dress silhouette is limited to size 8 brides with an hourglass body type. For instance, it looks equally gorgeous on size 12 brides with a pear-shaped figure.

Most importantly, you should be confident in your looks. If you’re often concerned about your body, especially the tummy area, a mermaid dress isn’t your best bet – better look for something more comfortable to enjoy the day without worries.

Curves and a defined waist are preferred for the mermaid dress style but not mandatory. After all, the wedding dress fit also depends on the bodice, neckline, and sleeve style.

For instance, one may enhance the waist by choosing a corseted bodice, wearing a belt, or adding volume to the bust. Or, one can conceal broad shoulders under voluminous sleeves and balance the silhouette with a wide skirt.

The fit and flare wedding dress style also draws attention to the tummy and hip area and demands a certain degree of confidence. However, it’s typically less tight and conceals the legs.

Overall, the fit and flare is among the most flattering wedding dress styles, being a mix of classic A-line and seductive mermaid cuts.

Since the flare in this style starts at the hips, it’s better suitable for brides with an inverted triangle body shape than the mermaid cut. The wider hip area perfectly balances shoulders and bust.

Both wedding dress styles are great for petite brides wishing to elongate legs. Meanwhile, tall brides concerned about looking too tall should be careful.

Fit and Flare vs Mermaid Wedding Dress (2024)


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