’80s Clothing: Ways to Wear a Fishtail Skirt

by Sammy in 12 Comments — Updated December 23, 2019

1980s clothing vintage fishtail skirt

Fish tail skirts are a “just right” length of skirt that should  be a staple in every vintage lover’s closet. Their high-low cuts show off a lady’s legs without revealing as much as a mini skirt, or potentially overwhelming a petite frame like a to-the-floor maxi style can.

So to illustrate the versatile pairings of a vintage fishtail skirt, I invited fashion blogger and online vintage seller Katherine of La Petite Marmoset to style one from the ’80s into four unique looks.

Katherine’s skirt wasn’t always a fishtail. To make the skirt more modern for today, she redesigned it from its original maxi length with some help from her sewing machine. A few snips transformed the maxi into a pretty and polished piece with just enough punch of print for spring.

Keep reading after the jump to see how Katherine styled her 1980s style fish tail skirt from unique piece to wardrobe staple as worn in her grunge, work, vacation & lunch-inspired looks!

Since meeting Katherine at the Independent Fashion Bloggers conference last fall, I’ve enjoyed following her blog and checking out her original and re-purposed vintage style finds in the La Petite Marmoset shop.

I don’t own a fishtail skirt (yet!), and after seeing just how versatile Katherine’s is I may have to go vintage shopping to grab one for spring!

Which of Katherine’s looks is your favorite? Let me know by leaving a comment below the post!

xx, SD


 Fishtail Skirt Goes Grunge

1980s clothing vintage fishtail skirt

vintage 80s clothing fishtail skirt

grunge combat boots

Outfit: Faux Leather Jacket – Rainbow / Striped Tee – Urban Outfitters / Combat Boots – Doc Marten / Clutch – Obey

LA PETITE MARMOSET says: The re-esurganece of the fishtail skirt is largely inspired by ’90s style.

So as an homage to the grunge-tastic decade, I decided to first pair it with classic Doc Martens, a pleather jacket and a striped tee. This look takes the skirt from prim and proper to bad mamajama status!

The juxtaposition of pretty skirts and dresses with tough accessories is always a winner in my book. I’d wear this on a relaxed afternoon running errands.

SAMMY DAVIS says: Oh, the ’90s! There were a lot of things wrong with that era but as Katherine proves, a few style points are worth bringing back for today.

Grunge style is worth celebrating for women because the trend marked the relaxing wardrobe restrictions on women. We could wear just what the boys did and get away with it while still looking cute!

On its own, the fishtail skirt has such a fun, funky flair. Paired with leather, dark shades and killer combat boots, the skirt takes on a whole new identity that says, “I may be pretty, but don’t be a sucker for my sweet side!” 

Fishtail Skirt Goes Professionally Posh

1980s clothing vintage fishtail skirt

80s clothing vintage fishtail skirt

black heels

Outfit: Blazer – Vintage / Sweater – Target / Belt – My Brother’s / Tights – Forever 21 / Booties – Rave / Purse – Thrifted Banana Republic

LA PETITE MARMOSET says: This look is a great way to style the fishtail skirt appropriately for a work environment.

I’m from DC, so most people have serious government jobs they have to dress professionally for. Pairing the fishtail skirt with a blazer and cardigan in a color that matches a hue of the skirt’s print keeps the look professionally fun.

Wear tights to keep it office appropriate. I would totally rock this to work!

SAMMY DAVIS says: I’ve always been lucky to work in a creative environment, from my time as a web assistant in the magazine industry to my current position running a vintage boutique.

So I have to give Katherine cred for working in the sophisticated city of DC, where skirt suits and blazers are a dime a dozen by the workday.

I love how she’s respecting the 9 to 5 dress code, but still infusing soft professional touches with a neutral colored blazer and a pop of color a la her Pepto Bismol pink blouse worn below.

Fishtail Skirt Goes on Vacation

1980s clothing vintage fishtail skirt

80s clothing vintage fishtail skirt

wooden heels

Outfit: Tank, Belt & Navajo Cuff  – Forever 21 / Necklace – Costa Rica / Satchel – Colombia / Platforms – Jessica Simpson

LA PETITE MARMOSET says: Fishtail skirts are great for vacation too! Just putting one on with some platforms makes you instantly feel like a sexy flamenco dancer (even if you can’t manage the electric slide).

This look is perfect for a warm weather escape. Pair the skirt with a tank or crop top, some ethnic accessories and strappy sandals. You’re ready for dinner at the resort!

SAMMY DAVIS says: Katherine’s choice of a plain white tee gave her room to accessorize creatively. I’m loving her ethnic bag and accessories. I believe holidays are meant for accessorizing, because it’s just a time of happiness and fun that should radiate from your outfit, too.

If Katherine wanted to style this look for a  downtown city girl vibe, she could lose the ethnic accessories and wear a floppy hat like this one from American Apparel instead, and switch out her bag for a vintage leather cross body.

 Fishtail Skirt Goes Lunching

1980s clothing vintage fishtail skirt

80s clothing vintage fishtail skirt

nude pumps

Outfit: Silk Top – Vintage / Necklace – Laila Rowe / Belt – Forever 21 / Pumps – Steve Madden / Clutch – Aldo

LA PETITE MARMOSET says: One of the great things about a fishtail skirt is how versatile it is. In this look, I’ve turned the skirt to the side so it becomes an asymmetrical hemline.

I love the idea of mixing bold solid colors with print for spring, and this look is perfect for lunch with the ladies. The high neckline with a statement necklace keeps it sophisticated and classy in contrast to the playful hemline, plus nude pumps give you legs for days in a fishtail!

I can imagine throwing back a few mimosas in this outfit! ;-)

SAMMY DAVIS says: Katherine is right — I definitely see a boozy brunch in her near future wearing this great look!

She strategically styled the skirt with a bright top, belt and clutch for 360 degrees of bold & beautiful, and kept things light (but elevated!) with a simple pair of neutral pumps below to offset the brightness up top.

And like a lady who lunches should, she’s matched her clutch to her belt — j’adore, La Petite!


vintage fishtail skirt etsy

 For a piece similar to Katherine’s, check out her Etsy store to buy the vintage fishtail skirt shown above.

About the Contributor

Katherine Martinez is a DC-based vintage enthusiast, blogger, designer, and online shop owner of La Petite Marmoset.

She loves all vintage, but is partial to pieces from the ’70s and ’80s because their prints and cuts relate most to current styles.  Katherine is savvy with her sewing machine, redesigning many of the vintage pieces in her shop so that they’re styled to fit a modern girl’s wardrobe.

Say hi to Katherine on her blog, Facebook and Twitter and check out other great vintage pieces in the La Petite Marmoset vintage store!

All photos were shot & styled by La Petite Marmoset 


Where to Buy: 1980s Fashion Trends
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Ways to Wear a … ’80s Greek Key Blazer
Ways to Wear a … ’80s Bed Jacket

12 thoughts on “’80s Clothing: Ways to Wear a Fishtail Skirt”

  1. Love all of Katherine’s looks! My favs are the grunge and work look! so much versatility! :)

    • hey Ashley! YES!!! She rocked those looks. I need me some fishtail in my life ;-) XO

  2. Loved all the looks, Katherine rocked them!

    • Katherine is a superstar! She slam dunked! XO

  3. LOVE all of the looks, Katherine is the DC vintage queen hahaha looking forward to wearing my fishtail skirt this spring, love look # 2;)

    • SHE IS. In my ideal life I’d be her publicist!

  4. Hard choice, but I think #2 – professionally posh is my fave. No wait, #4… ah, they’re all great! Would love to know a little about how to transform a maxi into that fishtail look – trial and error or is there a basic shape to follow? Lovely post, thanks ladies! :]

    • haha! I agree she kicked butt all 4 styles. I think Katherine could take this on vacation and wear it everyday and no one would know, she transforms the skirt each time!
      As for her mad sewing skillz, I am going to email Katherine and see if she ever posted a tutorial Ellen. I will comment back here. XO

  5. I like the last look best! It has all of the vivid hues that are so in right now and manages to look casual but polished.

    • Strangely (considering I die over brights) I really want those nude pumps! Love them! XO

  6. I hope its some inspiration!


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