The mermaid dress silhouette is quite distinctive, and it's synonymous with a very specific type of party dressing: glamorous, elegant, and a little constricting. (Let's not forget Kendall Jenner's formfitting mermaid gown from Topshop for the 2014 Met Gala, which was so snug, she opted to lay horizontally across the backseat of her ride to the big event.) The shape has been around for decades, and it hasn't really been innovated or modernized much. But designers like Jonathan Simkhai and Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci have made a few key adjustments that turn the fanciness factor down slightly, while keeping things ultra-elegant.
These iterations of the mermaid dress, first and foremost, are not as tightly fitted down the skirt. The mixed lace and silky materials put them closer to the "slips" category. They're softer and looser, but retain the structural elements to create that signature flared skirt. Plus, these new-wave mermaid numbers are cropped. Instead of a long, flowing train, the hemlines cut right above the ankle to allow for a little more leg movement (all the better to show off one's shoes). These dresses are primed for parties of all sorts — not just those you have to roll out a red carpet for. Ahead, see four takes on the updated silhouette.