What Is Mermaidcore? All About the Mermaid-Inspired Fashion Trend Making a Splash This Summer

Here's a complete guide to channeling your inner mermaid, including the history of the trend and how to rock it

Getty (4)
Getty (4)

Despite its name, you don't need a tail to nail the mermaidcore trend!

Move over "coastal grandmother" because there's a new ocean-related fashion trend that's already making a splash this summer — and compared to its easy-breezy predecessor, mermaidcore brings whosits and whatsits and glam galore.

The mystical trend is nonetheless viral, according to deep dives on social media and analytic sites alike. On TikTok alone, the search term "mermaidcore" has racked up 14.5 billion views to date, while Trendalytics reported "mermaid-core" averages 1,218 searches per week.

The popularity of mermaidcore continues to rise at an accelerated rate, as the term is already up 183.4% in searches from last year, per Trendalytics. This is in part due to several cultural factors making waves in Hollywood, including Disney's The Little Mermaid remake that premieres May 26.

Related: What Is Barbiecore? Everything to Know About the Viral Fashion Trend Inspired by Barbie

Since the live-action adaptation of the beloved animated movie began filming in early 2021 and Disney released its first teaser trailer in September 2022, several stars have rocked mermaid-inspired outfits on red carpets including Halle Bailey, the actress playing Ariel in the film.

While the aesthetic — which puts a Y2K twist on elements likely seen on a 70s-disco diva dance floor — dominated glamorous events ranging from the Academy Awards to the 2023 Met Gala, the sequin-heavy, pastel palette trend isn't just fishnet tights and scale-like gowns!

Mermaidcore has a chill side to it, too, making the craze perfect for summer.

Read on so you, too, can dive right into one of the hottest trends of the summer!

When did the mermaidcore trend start?

David Livingston/Getty, Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty, Dave Kotinsky/Getty
David Livingston/Getty, Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty, Dave Kotinsky/Getty

While mermaidcore has picked up steam in recent months thanks to Disney's live-action Little Mermaid film, it dates back to the 1930s — so it's safe to say, this trend has legs.

The quintessential mermaid silhouette is said to be created by French couturier Marcel Rochas and was showcased on haute couture catwalks in the early twentieth century. Soon after, the design was cemented in fashion-forward circles like Jean Patou, whose "aquatic-inspired gown appeared in a 1933 issue of Vogue," per Fashion magazine.

Decades later, mermaidcore is still gracing the runway, from emerging designers like Bahía María and Siedrés to luxury houses like Versace. Bloomingdale's ready-to-wear fashion director, Arielle Siboni, told Harper's Bazaar that mermaidcore elements were first spotted in Versace's spring/summer 2021 collection, with models in seashell and starfish-printed gowns.

From Spring 2022 to Spring 2023, resort collections from Victoria Beckham and Blumarine, to name a few, have intertwined Y2K elements with ocean-inspired accents into their designs — including scale-like paillettes and fabrics in hues of "sea glass" and "ocean."

Related: 'The Little Mermaid' Star Halle Bailey Wears 'Princess'-Inspired Gown on the 2023 Oscars Red Carpet

What are examples of mermaidcore in pop culture?


Surely, sartorial seekers looking to channel their inner mermaid have a vast pool to pull from. Celebrity red carpet looks aside, mermaids have been depicted in pop culture through cartoons and films for decades!

DC Comics first introduced the fictional superheroine Mera in the first Aquaman comic published in 1963 (later portrayed by Amber Heard in the Warner Bros. film adaptation of the same name in 2018), of which the flame-haired heroine wore a scale-like bodice that shimmered in seaweed green.

Of course, Disney's original The Little Mermaid (based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale published in 1837) made Ariel part of our world in 1989, introducing the green-tailed character with a sea-shell top and long flowing hair.

In addition to Ariel, TikTokers have drawn inspiration from the cartoon sea-maidens in Disney's 1953 Peter Pan as well as Y2K hits like Aquamarine and H2O. Needless to say, the fashion world is your oyster when it comes to mermaidcore references in pop culture.

How to dress in mermaidcore?

Getty (4)
Getty (4)

Fortunately for us humans, tails aren't required to master the mermaidcore trend (though, they are on the market if interested!). All that's needed are clothes, makeup, accessories — and a mermaid state of mind to feel like a fashion-forward fish out of water.

Shimmery bralettes, lace-up tops and corsets can define the mermaid bodice, while fishnet stockings and sheer flowing skirts can embody that siren-styled bottom. Have fun with fabrics, like tulle, sequins and ruffles — oh so many ruffles — to mimic the flow of the ocean water's ripples and waves.

Iridescent slip halters, scalloped dresses or elegant mermaid silhouette gowns are an easy way to channel your inner Ariel all in one. (Make sure you're choosing colors that resemble deep-sea blues and sunset hues, of course!)

Related: Kate Hudson Dazzles in Silver Mermaid Dress on the Red Carpet at the Oscars 2023

Khloe Kardashian/instagram, Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images
Khloe Kardashian/instagram, Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

Have fun accessorizing as well! While you might not be able to don starfish earrings like Sara Paxton's character in Aquamarine, sea shell-strung necklaces, bracelets and pearl earrings will fill that void.

As for makeup, stick with the same sea-inspired shades for eye shadows and lipsticks. Enhance the glam with sparkles and gems for a glittery finish.

Hair should feel simple and effortless, yet chic, so we advise using a hairbrush instead of a fork (sorry Ariel)! Anything from a tousled braid to a blown-out bombshell will have you feeling mystical and magical.

Which celebrities have dressed in mermaidcore?

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty, Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic, Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty, Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic, Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty

Forget Hollywood, celebrities want to be where the mermaids are! Everyone from models to actresses has put their spin on mermaidcore.

The 2023 Oscars had its fair share of mermaid moments, like The Little Mermaid's Halle Bailey, who donned an aquamarine-colored gown designed by Dolce & Gabbana. The ensemble allowed her to "go into the fairytale world and give them princess for one day," she said on the carpet.

Kate Hudson joined her and shimmered head to toe in silver sequins and sparkling embellishments. The Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery star's gown featured a strappy neckline with flowing off-the-shoulder sleeves on top and a long glittering train on the bottom.

Meanwhile, Amanda Seyfried may have walked the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards carpet, but her look was totally fin-tastic. Seyfried — who took home an Emmy for her role in The Dropout —donned a floor-length Armani Privé gown, designed with a body-hugging silhouette covered in rhinestones and accented with mesh detail.

The 2023 Met Gala saw several mermaid-inspired looks on its famed steps, like Heidi Klum who looked like an underwater goddess for her red carpet appearance, stepping out in an ethereal gown embodying the oceanic vibes of the night.

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