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How To Dress Up as a Mermaid

Updated on October 25, 2012

Dressing up in a mermaid costume for Halloween or other costumed event is an attractive idea to many young women. After all, mermaids are typically considered to be beautiful, mysterious, and alluring; what woman wouldn't want to wear a costume that embodies all of these qualities?

Creating the Illusion of a Mermaid Tail

Of course, there's a very obvious issue when a human tries to turn herself into a fish from the waist-down: what can she do about those pesky legs? The ideal mermaid costume would allow the wearer to give the illusion of having a fishtail without requiring her to actually part company with her legs (no matter how much we want to be beautiful, mysterious, and alluring, most women would not be willing to go quite this far).

Fortunately, there are a few options to solve this problem. Here are three ways to create the illusion of a mermaid tail when you have two human legs.

The mermaid dress gets its name from the shape of  the skirt, which resembles a mermaid tail.
The mermaid dress gets its name from the shape of the skirt, which resembles a mermaid tail. | Source

1.) Use a Mermaid Skirt or Dress

A mermaid dress is a floor-length dress that hugs the hips and thighs closely, then flares out from the knee (or slightly below the knee) to the floor, resembling a fishtail. If the skirt is made out of a shimmery or shiny material, particularly in green or blue, the effect is even more striking. This is a common solution that is used in most commercial mermaid costumes

The good thing about this approach is that it allows you quite a bit of freedom of movement. You will be able to walk around (albeit, with tiny steps, depending on how tightly the dress hugs the legs, and on how far down the legs the dress goes before it flares out). There are also no bulky pieces that will make it difficult to navigate obstacles or narrow entryways.

The bad thing about this approach is that if your dress is high enough off the ground to avoid tripping or getting dirty from trailing on the floor, then your feet are likely to show, thus reducing the effectiveness of the illusion.

2.) Be Prepared to Sit the Whole Time

A second option would be to commit to sitting the whole time. Make yourself a mermaid tail that goes around your legs and covers them completely, ending in a pair of fins. You won't be able to walk around once you get in costume, but you'll be very convincing.

This idea may seem impractical for most children and adults, but it would work very well for young babies who aren't yet crawling or walking.

If this is the route you choose, here is a great video showing full instructions to make a mermaid tail that is perfectly fitted to your body. The tail in this video is actually meant to be functional; your costume tail may not need to be quite this elaborate.


3.) Be a Mermaid AND a Pirate!

This gem of a costume solves the question of what to do with your legs by turning them into the lower half of a pirate! Full instructions on how to make this costume are available here, but to summarize, you

  1. Create a dummy of a man from the waist up, dress it up like a pirate, and strap it on your back.
  2. Dress in pants and boots so that you look like a pirate from the waist down.
  3. Create a fishtail and tuck it into the front of your pants.
  4. Dress like a mermaid from the waist up.

The great thing about this costume is that is so unique and creative. This costume turns heads and gets laughs. It also gives the full illusion of a mermaid with no tell-tale feet sticking out, while still allowing you to walk around.

The disadvantage to the costume is that it is rather large and bulky. You'll be able to walk around, but might struggle to get through doorways. Sitting down can also be a challenge.

Another thing to mention about this costume is that it is not quick to make. You might view this as a disadvantage or no problem at all, depending on how much you like doing this kind of stuff.

Completing the Costume

Once the mermaid tail has been achieved, the rest of the costume is pretty easy. The traditional top is a bikini-style top, usually with seashells sewn or glued onto the cups. If you're dressing up in cool weather, you can wear a long-sleeved shirt in a color that matches your skin underneath. If you don't have naturally long hair, you can wear a wig. Accessorize with necklaces, hairpieces, and bracelets that have an aquatic theme, such as seashells, starfish, and even fishnets. Apply some shimmery face makeup, and you'll be ready to go!


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