What Is Mermaidcore?

Fashion
Blumarine Spring 2023 Campaign. Photography by Petra Collins

Is it truly better down where it’s wetter? These designers think so.

When I was four, my life’s goal was to be a mermaid. Well, technically a “fairy princess mermaid,” but then again, I’ve always been a bit of an overachiever. Turns out, I wasn’t alone in my under-the-sea dreams. The first trailer for the live-action The Little Mermaid, due in theatres this May, currently has 27 million views. Mermaidcore, the newest micro trend taking over award shows, runways and social media, has almost double that on TikTok. Coincidence? I think not.

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That being said, designers have had the desire to breathe underwear for quite some time. The quintessential mermaid silhouette is thought to be created by French courtier Marcel Rochas in the 1930s and cemented in fashionable circles by Jean Patou, whose aquatic-inspired gown appeared in a 1933 issue of Vogue. Since then, the siren style has taken many forms but re-entered the mainstream in 2021, with Versace and Burberry making waves with their nautical novelty. Cut to Spring 2023, and Blumarine, Erdem, Victoria Beckham, and many others have also decided to take the plunge.

@itgirllifeguide What do y’all think about this trend? #mermaidcoreaesthetic #mermaidcore #mermaidcorefashion ♬ original sound – Slay🧍‍♀️

Much like the mythical creatures, the defining mermaidcore look is a little elusive. Think Sara Paxton from Aquamarine mixed with Tiktok’s viral coquette and pearlcore aesthetics: iridescent slip halter dresses, lace-up tops and corsets, pearl and shell-inspired accessories, sheer lacy fabrics, light blue and lilac sequins, and so, so, so many ruffles. If it feels like a lot, that’s because it is — apparently, no minimalist mermaids are allowed above ground.

But in grander terms, the trend speaks to our communal need for nostalgia and escapism. During a period that has been anything but comforting, it psychologically makes sense that we’ve all been more inclined to revert to our childish ways. Pretending to be a fairy, princess, mermaid, or all of the above is much more fun than thinking about any of the many crises society is currently facing. Who wouldn’t want to be part of their world?

Read on for Ariel-approved advice on how to make a splash in mermaidcore-inspired looks.

Sheer Leader

Photography by Launchmetrics.com/Spotlight

The wet look is a beauty basic, but thanks to mermaidcore, the trend is floating over into fashion. The combination of semi-sheer and lace fabric can make clothes appear soaked, as if, say, you’ve just returned from a quick swim in the sea. So take the plunge like this influencer and invest in a two-piece pastel set to achieve the full effect.

Frill Ride

mermaidcore
Photography by Getty Images

Not ready to live fully under the sea? Wade into the proverbial water with ruffles. While the parallels to aquatic algae and other oceanic plants make it a mermaidcore must, the feminine fashion can easily be worn above land when paired with a more masculine oversized blazer, as seen here on this guest during fashion week — bonus points for adding any shell-related accessories. (And if your frilly blouse happens to also have a garden-ready rosette like the street style star seen here? We say why not.)

Rise and Shine

mermaidcore
Photography by Getty Images

Is there anything more beautiful than the sun shining on the sea? Perhaps Halle Bailey could give it a run for its money, but besides that, I’m drawing a blank. Get your glow on with iridescent materials like silks, satins and sequins and don’t be afraid to add some Y2K touches as seen above.

Shop the trend

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