The Midi Fishtail Dress and the History Behind It.

The Midi Fishtail Dress and the History Behind It.

The fishtail dress, also known as a mermaid or trumpet dress, is a style of women's evening gown characterised by its fitted bodice and flared skirt that resembles the shape of a fishtail. It is a timeless and glamorous silhouette that has been popularised over the years.

The origins of the fishtail dress can be traced back to the early 20th century. During the Edwardian era (1901-1910), women's fashion emphasised a slim and elongated silhouette. Corsets were still in use, and the ideal figure was an hourglass shape with a small waist and rounded hips. Women's dresses were designed to accentuate these features.

In the 1930s, the fishtail silhouette gained prominence. The influential French couturier, Jeanne Lanvin, is often credited with popularising this style. She introduced bias-cut gowns that hugged the waist and hips and gradually flared out at the knees, creating a mermaid-like shape. This design highlighted the natural curves of a woman's body, adding a touch of sensuality and elegance.

The fishtail dress gained further popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. It became a favourite choice for red carpet events and formal occasions. The famous Hollywood actresses of that era, such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, often wore fishtail dresses, contributing to its iconic status. The style was seen as glamorous and sophisticated, exuding femininity and allure.

In the 1980s, the fishtail dress experienced a revival. Designers like Azzedine Alaïa and Christian Lacroix reintroduced the mermaid silhouette with modern touches. They experimented with different fabrics, embellishments, and variations in the cut to create unique and dramatic fishtail gowns.

Since then, the fishtail dress has remained a popular choice for special occasions and formal events. It has evolved to suit contemporary tastes and trends. Modern versions of the fishtail dress may feature strapless or off-the-shoulder necklines, different sleeve lengths, and various fabric choices. However, the defining characteristic remains the fitted bodice and flared skirt, creating a captivating hourglass shape reminiscent of a fishtail.

Today, the fishtail dress continues to be a timeless and elegant choice for those seeking a glamorous and figure-flattering ensemble. It is often seen on red carpets, runways, and wedding ceremonies, captivating with its alluring silhouette and classic appeal.

Choosing Your Midi Fishtail Dress

Wearing a mermaid dress can be a stunning choice for a special occasion or formal event. Here are some tips to keep in mind when wearing a mermaid dress:

Choose the Right Fit

Mermaid dresses are designed to be fitted through the bodice, waist, and hips, and then flare out from the knees or mid-thigh. It's essential to find a dress that fits your body type properly. Consider getting the dress tailored if needed to ensure the perfect fit.

Embrace Your Body Shape

Mermaid dresses accentuate the curves of your body, particularly the waist and hips. They are particularly flattering for hourglass figures, as well as pear-shaped and curvier body types. However, anyone can rock a mermaid dress by embracing their unique shape and feeling confident in it.

Our Senne 3/4 Sleeved Fishtail dress features a forest green skirt, among other stunning shades we have available.

Pay Attention to Undergarments

Wearing the right undergarments can enhance your comfort and the overall look of the dress. Choose seamless, supportive undergarments that are compatible with the dress's cut and your body shape. Consider options like a strapless bra, shapewear, or seamless panties to ensure a smooth and seamless silhouette.

Mind Your Movement

Mermaid dresses can be fitted around the knees, which restricts leg movement to some extent. When trying on the dress, make sure you can walk comfortably and sit without feeling constricted. Practice walking in the dress to get accustomed to its silhouette and ensure you can move with grace.

Accessorise Thoughtfully

With a mermaid dress, the focus is often on the dress itself, so keep accessories elegant and complementary. Consider pairing it with a statement necklace or earrings, a delicate clutch, and appropriate footwear. Avoid overwhelming the dress with too many accessories, as it may take away from its sleek and captivating silhouette.

Confidence is Key

The most important aspect of wearing any dress is confidence. When you feel comfortable and confident in what you're wearing, it will shine through. Stand tall, own your look, and enjoy the occasion with grace and poise.

Accessorising with your chosen fishtail gown

When accessorising a mermaid dress, it's important to strike a balance between enhancing the dress and ensuring that the overall look remains elegant and cohesive. Here are some accessory options to consider:

Statement Jewellery

Since a mermaid dress draws attention to your upper body, consider wearing statement jewellery that complements the neckline. A stunning necklace or a pair of chandelier earrings can add a touch of glamour and draw attention to your face.

Delicate Accessories

If you prefer a more understated look, opt for delicate accessories that enhance the dress without overpowering it. For example, dainty earrings, a simple pendant necklace, or a delicate bracelet can add a subtle touch of elegance.

Clutch or Evening Bag

Complete your look with an elegant clutch or evening bag that coordinates with your dress. Choose a style that complements the colour and texture of the dress while being practical enough to carry your essentials.


When it comes to footwear, consider the length of your mermaid dress. If it's a floor-length gown, your shoes may not be highly visible. In this case, choose a pair of comfortable heels or pumps that match the dress colour or opt for metallic or nude tones for versatility. If your dress is a shorter mermaid style, you can choose more eye-catching heels or strappy sandals.

Hair Accessories

Enhance your hairstyle with appropriate hair accessories. Depending on your personal style and the formality of the event, you can choose from hairpins, headbands, hair combs, or decorative hair clips to add an extra touch of glamour.

Vintage 50s Hair Accessories

Staying with the vintage theme of the mermaid dress design, 50s hair accessories can complete your look. Here are just a few looks we adore:

Wrap or Shawl

If you're attending an event in cooler weather or prefer to have some coverage, consider a wrap or shawl that complements the colour or fabric of your mermaid dress. This can be a stylish way to keep warm while adding an additional element to your overall look.

Wearing a Fishtail Dress to a Wedding

Whilst you may choose to wear a shift dress for wedding guest attendance, you might find that wearing a statement dress like a fishtail dress can have an elegant impact, without fearing to overshadow. Wearing a fishtail dress to a wedding can be a sophisticated and elegant choice. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when wearing a fishtail dress to a wedding:

Check the Dress Code

Before selecting a fishtail dress for a wedding, ensure that the dress code allows for such formal attire. Most weddings have a dress code indicated on the invitation or provided by the couple. If the wedding is black-tie or formal, a fishtail dress would be a suitable option. However, if it's a more casual or beach wedding, you might want to opt for a different style.

Choose Appropriate Fabrics and Colours

Select a fishtail dress in a fabric and colour that is appropriate for the wedding. Lighter fabrics like silk, chiffon, or lace can work well for daytime or summer weddings, while heavier fabrics like satin or velvet can be ideal for evening or winter weddings. Choose colours that complement the wedding theme and avoid wearing white, as it's typically reserved for the bride.

Consider the Length

Fishtail dresses typically have a longer hemline, and it's essential to consider the appropriateness of the length for the wedding. If it's a formal or evening wedding, a floor-length fishtail gown can be a great choice. For a semi-formal or daytime wedding, a slightly shorter length, such as tea-length or just below the knee, can work well.

model pictured wearing Diva Catwalk's Seraphina Dress in Dawn Pink.

Seraphina Dress £139

Accessorise Thoughtfully

When it comes to accessories, keep the focus on the dress while adding complementary pieces. Consider pairing the dress with elegant and understated jewellery, such as delicate earrings, a bracelet, or a necklace that enhances the neckline. Opt for a stylish clutch, retro handbag or evening bag that complements the dress and choose shoes that are comfortable yet chic.

Follow Wedding Etiquette

Remember to adhere to wedding etiquette guidelines. Avoid wearing anything that could upstage the bride, such as overly flashy or revealing attire. It's also a good idea to avoid wearing all black unless it is a formal evening wedding or the dress code specifically calls for it.

Be Mindful of Movement

Fishtail dresses can be fitted around the knees, which may restrict movement to some extent. Make sure you can walk comfortably, sit, and dance without feeling constricted. Practice moving in the dress beforehand to ensure you feel confident and at ease.

The Difference between the Fishtail Gown and the Mermaid Dress?

While the terms "fishtail" and "mermaid" are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a subtle difference between fishtail and mermaid dresses. Here's a breakdown of the key distinctions:

Fishtail Dress

A fishtail dress, also known as a fishtail silhouette or a fishtail hem, refers specifically to the shape of the skirt. The fishtail dress is fitted through the waist, hips, and thighs, and then flares out dramatically from the mid-thigh or knee level to resemble the shape of a fishtail. It creates a more exaggerated and pronounced flare, resembling the tail of a fish. The flare can extend straight down or slightly fan out, depending on the design. The fitted bodice and flared skirt of the fishtail dress emphasize and accentuate the curves of the wearer's body, particularly the waist and hips.

Mermaid Dress

A mermaid dress, also known as a mermaid silhouette or a trumpet dress, refers to the overall shape and silhouette of the dress. The mermaid dress is fitted through the bodice, waist, hips, and thighs, and then gradually flares out below the knees. The flare of the skirt is less dramatic and more gradual compared to the fishtail dress. The skirt of a mermaid dress follows the natural curves of the body, resembling the shape of a mermaid's tail. The overall effect is sleek and streamlined, highlighting the wearer's figure while still allowing for ease of movement.

In summary, the main difference between a fishtail dress and a mermaid dress lies in the shape and flare of the skirt. The fishtail dress has a more exaggerated and dramatic flair that resembles the tail of a fish, while the mermaid dress has a gradual and streamlined flare that follows the curves of the body, resembling the tail of a mermaid. Both styles are elegant and form-fitting, emphasizing the waist and hips for a glamorous and feminine look.

Finding Fish Tail Dresses UK

Far from being the little dress shop, at Diva Catwalk each of our fishtail dresses and gorgeous skirts come in a variety of shades, including a cherry midi skirt scarlet red, an orchid purple and, of course, statement black. You can find our full range at - however enjoy a sneak peek here.

Fishtail Floor-Length Skirt

Our Esoteric skirt is created using our much-loved ripple crepe fabric. Featuring its floor-length skirt, the flattering waistband allows for it to be worn with a number of tops including fitted as well cropped.

model pictured wearing the Esoteric Long Fishtail Skirt in Black.

Esoteric Skirt £39 (was £89)

Our Brecon dress is designed using our Couture Stretch Fabric, featuring 3/4 length sleeves and a sweetheart neckline. Available in 8 chic shades, each one is a statement piece.

Seed BRECON Fishtail Sleeved Dress £79 (was £155)

Another favourite designed using our ripple crepe fabric, this Seraphina dress features a rushing detail v-neckline with hip pleating, cap sleeve, rushing side seam and, the all-important, fishtail style skirt.

a number of images showcasing a model wearing the Seraphina dress, in dawn pink, from various angles.

Seraphina Dress £139

Our ever-popular Senne 3/4 Sleeved Fishtail dress features a chic design throughout. Offering a figure-flattering outline, this dress is made using our Luxury Moss Crepe fabric. With a fully lined bodice, round neckline, as well as a flattering tailored waistband this dress is sure to give you the extra confidence boost.

Models pictured wearing Diva Catwalk's Senne 3/4 Sleeved Dresses

Senne ¾ Sleeved Dress £89

Footwear to Wear with Your Fishtail Dress

Choosing the right footwear to wear with a fishtail dress is crucial to complete your overall look. Here are some footwear options that can complement a fishtail dress:

Strappy High Heels

Strappy high heels are a classic choice to pair with a fishtail dress. Opt for heels in a colour that complements your dress or go for metallic shades like silver or gold for a touch of glamour. Strappy heels add an elegant and feminine touch to your ensemble while elongating your legs.

Peep-Toe Pumps

Peep-toe pumps can be another stylish option for a fishtail dress. They provide a sophisticated and polished look while still allowing a glimpse of your toes. Choose pumps in a neutral shade or a colour that coordinates with your dress.

Stiletto Heels

Stiletto heels exude elegance and can be a great choice for a formal event or evening wedding. They add height and sophistication to your look, enhancing the sleek and feminine silhouette of the fishtail dress.

Platform Heels

If you prefer added comfort and stability without compromising style, platform heels can be a good option. They provide extra height and support while maintaining a fashionable look. Choose platform heels that complement the colour and style of your fishtail dress.

Embellished Sandals

For a beach wedding or a more relaxed and bohemian vibe, consider embellished sandals. Look for sandals with decorative details like beading, rhinestones, or lace to add a touch of elegance to your look. Opt for a style that still maintains a formal or dressy appearance.

Avoid Flat Shoes

Given the fitted and flared silhouette of a fishtail dress, flat shoes can disrupt the overall balance and proportions. However, if you prefer or need flats for comfort reasons, opt for dressy ballet flats or pointed-toe flats in a style that complements the dress.

What to Wear Over a Fishtail Dress UK

When it comes to selecting a coat to wear with a fishtail dress, there are several options to consider depending on the weather and the formality of the occasion. Here are some coat styles that can complement a fishtail dress:

Trench Coat

A classic trench coat is a versatile option that can be worn with a fishtail dress for a polished and sophisticated look. Opt for a trench coat in a neutral colour like beige, khaki, or black, as these shades tend to complement a wide range of dress colours. The tailored silhouette of a trench coat pairs well with the fitted bodice and flared skirt of a fishtail dress.

Cape or Capelet

A cape or capelet can add a touch of drama and elegance to your fishtail dress. Look for a cape in a luxurious fabric like wool or cashmere, or consider a sheer capelet for a lighter and more ethereal look. Choose a length that falls around the same level as the dress hemline to maintain a balanced and cohesive silhouette.

Images showcasing a model wearing Diva Catwalk's Valparaiso cape from different angles.

Valparaiso Cape £149

Faux Fur Coat/Stole

For a glamorous and luxurious touch, consider a faux fur coat or stole. This option works particularly well for winter weddings or formal evening events. Opt for a fur coat or stole in a colour that complements or contrasts with your dress. The plush texture of the fur can add texture and warmth to your overall ensemble.

Bolero or Shrugs

If you want to showcase the top part of your fishtail dress, a bolero or shrug can be a great choice. These short jackets provide coverage for your shoulders and arms while allowing the bodice of the dress to shine. Look for boleros or shrugs in materials like lace, satin, or sequins to add a touch of elegance.

model pictures showcasing the Rhianna Cropped Bolero by Diva Catwalk - in three different colour (blue, pink and black).

Rhianna Cropped Bolero £69

Wrap or Shawl

For a more lightweight and versatile option, consider a wrap or shawl. Choose a wrap or shawl in a fabric that complements the dress, such as silk, chiffon, or cashmere. You can drape it over your shoulders or wrap it around your arms for added warmth and style.

Remember to consider the colour and style of your fishtail dress when selecting a coat. Opt for a coat that enhances and complements the overall look while providing appropriate coverage for the weather and the occasion.

Fishtail/Mermaid Coats

A woman's mermaid coat is a stylish and fashionable outerwear garment inspired by the silhouette of a mermaid's tail, and whilst a stunning piece of design it is not widely worn. It is designed to mimic the shape and appearance of a mermaid's tail, with a fitted waist and a flared or ruffled skirt that extends outward towards the hem. The coat is often made from luxurious and flowing fabrics to enhance the mermaid-like effect. 

Here are some key features and characteristics of a woman's mermaid coat:


The mermaid coat is known for its distinctive silhouette. It is fitted at the waist and hips, accentuating the curves, and then flares out dramatically towards the bottom, resembling a mermaid's tail.


The length of a mermaid coat can vary. It can range from mid-thigh length to floor-length, depending on personal preference and the intended style of the coat.


Mermaid coats are typically made from flowing and luxurious materials such as silk, satin, velvet, or other lightweight fabrics that drape well. These fabrics help create the graceful and fluid look associated with mermaids.


Mermaid coats often feature decorative elements such as ruffles, pleats, or intricate patterns to enhance the mermaid-inspired aesthetic. You can find these details on the skirt portion or the sleeves of the coat.

Colours and Patterns

Mermaid coats come in a wide range of colours and patterns. Popular choices include iridescent shades, pastel hues, or shimmering metallic tones to evoke the mystical and enchanting nature of mermaids.

Mermaid coats are often worn as statement pieces for special occasions, formal events, or as part of costume designs. They offer a unique and eye-catching style that can add a touch of whimsy and elegance to a woman's wardrobe.


In conclusion, opting for a fishtail dress is not only a statement but a necessity for when wanting to exude confidence and class whilst also having a little bit of fun with the materials and colourings.


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