What Is a Trumpet Skirt?

Fashion brainiacs know the difference between a trumpet and a mermaid skirt.

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You likely won't find a skirt style that's as universally recognized by women as the trumpet skirt. These flattering separates look like the instrument: slim at the top and flared at the bottom, kinda like a morning glory that opens in -- well, trumpet-like fashion. Fact is, these skirts are the bomb. They're snug on top and fan out at the hem so even if you're wearing Steve Madden platform stilettos, you can walk with confidence knowing that from the rear, you won't emulate a prisoner in leg chains. There. You have found skirt nirvana. Go buy a bunch.


If you can't get enough of the iconic Jerry Seinfeld TV show, you know that Elaine's dream job, writing for the J. Peterman fashion catalog, never waned. The catalog remains an entertaining read for shoppers because copywriters attach tidbits of history to each garment's sales pitch. A recent edition of the Peterman catalog featured a "Quietly Magnificent Trumpet Skirt" that harkens back to original designs in 1920s England when this style was popular enough to survive the era of the fluctuating hem.


Women pray for skirt silhouettes like the trumpet because it's nearly impossible to look bad in one. Body hugging at the waist and hip but flared at the hem, this style is so popular that Spanx and other shapewear companies have wandered off the undergarment path to make them. These body-flattering fashions make slim girls look astonishing and those with meat on their bones look awesome. Whether you're up for spandex or not, pick lengths that flatter your legs: short, long and everything in-between. Check out trumpet skirt patterns if you're a sewing sista; it only takes about 3 yards of cloth to make one.


You're a purist, so please don't make the mistake of confusing a trumpet skirt with a mermaid skirt or some smarty-pants fashionista is sure to call you out on your fashion faux pas. Mermaid skirts are narrower and they cling to your lower torso like ice cream after a three-day binge. The trumpet skirt has such a relaxed, fluid line that nobody will be able to tell what's going on at thigh level. By the way, you'll find styles of trumpet skirt that give the illusion of being even more slimming: rather than being made with single front and back panels, sections of fabric, known as gores, create the gradual flair extending to the hem.


Quick: name a top that won't work with a trumpet skirt. Thought so. Summery shells, crisp business blouses, embroidered bustiers, soft sweaters, racy halters and down home T-shirts are all appropriate, so if you're known for putting together quirky combinations, why limit your fabric choices when anything goes these days? A denim bustier with a diaphanous trumpet skirt dazzles. Season should dictate your shoe choice, but you can get away with everything from espadrilles to flip-flops if the occasion calls for them when you wear this great-looking skirt.

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