Fit-and-Flare Skirt

AKA: fishtail skirt, mermaid skirt, trumpet skirt

How to say it:  fit-n-flair skurt

Traditional Features: 

Fit-and-Flare Skirt

  • can be any length
  • fits over the hips and flares at some point on the leg (often just below the hip or at the knee)
  • separate pattern pieces can be used to create extra flare


…of the style: The fit-and-flare skirt creates a silhouette that fits over the hips and flares out at some point down the leg, often at the hip or knee and is a silhouette that has existed in women’s fashion since at least the late 1870s. These first fit-and-flare styles we known as ‘fishtail skirts‘ as they fitted over the wearers hips and thighs, flaring out at the knee and finishing in a small train at the back, creating a shape similar to that of a fish or mermaid tail.

In the 1890s the fashionable shape was the ‘bell skirt’ which fitted over the hips, but then flared drastically, creating a bell shape that was emphasised by corsets and padding; this style was followed by the ‘trumpet skirt‘ of the early 1900s, which was similar to the fishtail, flaring at the knee in a disk-like shape that made the skirt silhouette resemble a trumpet.

By 1910 the fashionable silhouette had fully returned to a slim-line look and the introduction of Poiret’s hobble skirt marked the end of the fit-and-flare styles until the 1930s, when the silhouette was particularly suited to the new bias-cut construction and was popular in evening wear of the decade.

Flare all but disappeared in women’s clothing during the fabric rationing of WWII and when it came back in the late 40s, it came back with a vengeance; women opted for full, skirts that flared from the waist and let the ‘fit’ part of the silhouette fall to the wayside.

At some stage in the late 20th century the fitted and flared silhouettes combined once more and the fit-and-flare shape became a staple on the fashion landscape. In the modern marketplace skirts of all lengths, with varying amounts of flare, abound and continue to be featured in all areas of women’s fashion; from wedding gowns to office attire, and from designer catwalks to cheap and easy casual wear – it is a flattering and versatile silhouette that is not likely to go out of style anytime soon.

…of the name: The cut of the skirt fits over the hips and then flares over the legs. Hence the name.

Fit and Flare is a relatively new name for the style, so for more information on the history of the silhouette search for its other alias’ – Mermaid, Bell, Trumpet and Fishtail. The  Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion has a little bit too.

21st Century Fit-and-Flare Skirts

The fit-and-flare style of skirt works at all lengths, from a short, flirty mini, to a more demure knee-length, right down to the elegance of a full length skirt.


Chanel Vintage. BCBGMAXAZRIA

Norma Kamali Zac Posen

Norma Kamali, Zac Posen

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