For obvious reasons, mermaids prefer thin, delicate fabrics for their undersea fashion statements. These are usually just in single layers, possibly two or three extremely light layers for special occasions or if your situation in life is such that you don’t have to move around too much; anything beyond that registers less as sumptuous and more as vulgar and ridiculous, if not simply dangerous. There is a mermaid fable, in the Aesop vein, about a particularly vain young thing with a pearly pink tail and a fondness for adornment. Despite the warnings of her more practical sisters, she kept adding layer after layer of richly embroidered skirts and tops and sleeves, as well as bangles and necklaces and hair ornaments; in the end her outfit becomes just too heavy and billowy to swim properly in, and she gets eaten by a shark. But then, there is also a mermaid fairy tale about a vain young thing with a pearly blue tail, who starts out with too many layers and sheds them, one by one, to give to others in need; in proper fairy tale fashion, the recipients repay her kindness later on. (From the mermaid point of view, neither story is a caution against vanity per se: the latter is about generosity, the former merely about self-preservation.)
This sleek, light aesthetic often carries over to what mermaids might wear on land. As a matter of fact, most mermaids mentally class humans with other mammals such as dolphins, so it’s only natural to them to consider themselves superior in every way. Because of this perspective, mermaids tend to consider their own style to be obviously better than the fuller, often gaudier fashions popular among human women. Still, sometimes even for a mermaid it’s fun to pile on the fabric. This bride wanted most elements of mermaid wedding gown design for her own dress: the traditional red, the romantic tatters, the bare midriff that would shock most human brides. Indeed the top is such a common design for mermaid wedding outfits that it’s rather cliché. But now that she doesn’t have to worry about sharks, she wanted a skirt with something like ten layers of fabric. The resulting creation looks odd to both human and mermaid eyes alike: the mermaids criticize the mismatch of tatters and heavy skirt, while the humans scorn just about every other part of it. But the bride and her partner adore it, and they’ve never quite been known for paying undue attention to the opinions of others.
The tatters are a long-standing symbol of enduring, patient love among mermaids (and someday, remind me, I’ll tell you the story that most mermaids know a version of that started the trend). Of course, to humans, it just looks ragged and ridiculous. The tailor of this particular outfit took one last look at her beautifully balanced layers of fabric, then actually curled up in a corner of a different room and cried while her apprentice “distressed” the edges.