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Seashell Bra

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Bivalves are a girl's best friend.

Mimic: By th' way, nice seashells.
Siren: They're just B-shells, but thanks.

For some reason, mermaids feel compelled to fashion bras for themselves out of seashells, even though they never bother making any other kind of clothing. Although this provides Fanservice and titillation, it was originally created for the reverse reason. Logically (as in, using the same logic that would apply to humans *cough*), a mermaid would be an Innocent Fanservice Girl, but we can't have that in a kids' movie, can we?

Since, by definition, a mermaid is a fish from the waist down, only her top half must be covered, and often Godiva Hair just won't do. Thus the seashell bra was invented to preserve the modesty of female merfolk everywhere. You probably think this originated with Disney's The Little Mermaid, but Disney was using it all the way back in 1953 to depict the mermaids in Peter Pan (although they looked distinctly less bra-like in those days). Expect bras to also be made out of other marine trappings, such as starfish (though glomping a living creature to one's own body doesn't sound like a good idea in hindsight — especially if it ejects its stomach and starts digesting your nipples) or perhaps seaweed or other vague underwater flora, though the shells are often depicted as somehow clinging magically without any accompanying harnesses or straps, seaweed or otherwise. Also, the bra will almost always be made from scallop shells rather than clam, oyster, conch, or nautilus shells (not unless they are hollowed out).

Of course, not every culture shares the notion that the sight of female nipples somehow corrupts children, hence the Japanese animated version of the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale features bare-chested mermaids. It's also possible to avert the whole issue entirely by having scales growing around the chest area, extend the "fish" part of the mermaid up to the bustline like a strapless dress, or simply not draw any nipples at all. Mermen, instead, will just be completely shirtless, since Bare Midriffs Are Feminine. Aside from preserving modesty, the seashell bra also serves another purpose: Animators didn't have to care about the underwater Jiggle Physics, since seashells are hard and rigid.

A Sub-Trope of Improvised Clothes. Compare Fur Bikini.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Lucy in Fairy Tail temporarily turns into a mermaid when Aquarius takes her and Brandish to the Star Memory. She's shown wearing one of these.
  • In the filler Beach Episode of The Familiar of Zero, the girls punish the boys for being perverts by beating them up, tying them up, and forcing them to wear seashell bikinis. Later, when they think they are alone, the girls try on the seashell bikinis and find wearing them fun. Saito manages to spy on them.
  • Galaxy Angel 3rd (manga) has the girls turned into mermaids at one point, complete with Seashell Bra.
  • Guu from Haré+Guu wears one during the Beach Episode.
  • Shows up in a dream/hallucinatory sequence in Kaleido Star. Dream Mermaid!Sora gets this to a T (well, the current performance is The Little Mermaid). She also seems a bit more... ample in this sequence.
  • Lampshaded in Kamichama Karin, in which Kazune points out, "How do those stay on?"
  • Somewhat related example from Love Hina: Having found an oasis after getting lost in the middle of the desert, Naru makes improvised bikinis for herself and Nyamo (and then later, Shinobu, whose clothes had been destroyed by one of Motoko's sword techniques) out of giant leaves. Not explained is why Kitsune put Motoko in the exact same type of outfit when they were still in civilization. This also allows a "trap" that unleashes caterpillars to be somewhat threatening, in a way.
  • In Magi: Labyrinth of Magic and its sequel, Kingdom of Magic, magician Yamraiha wears this in keeping with her water motif. The seashells turn out to be magoi storage devices that gave her a boost when shattered, but it still doesn't explain the reason for choosing that type of bra in the first place...
  • The female mermaids in the shoujo manga Mermaid Boys have these. Notably, Queen Lorelai, mother of the main character Prince Naru. She, ah, fills them well.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch takes Color-Coded for Your Convenience to the extreme, so of course, mermaids always have seashell bras that match their tails. They do, however, wear other kinds of clothing at times, such as skirts, but these are purely ceremonial, and usually a mermaid is depicted in only the shell bra.
  • Lucoa from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid wears this during the second DVD special when the dragons were dressing up as otters. Kobayashi points out that it barely has anything to do with otters.
  • There is an episode of Miss Machiko in which a male teacher imagines the main character as a mermaid with the obligatory seashell bikini.
  • San the mermaid Yakuza Princess from My Bride is a Mermaid wears this in her first appearance.
  • One Piece:
    • Sanji has some Imagine Spots of gorgeous sirens wearing Seashell Bras, but it's averted when they meet Kayme, an actual mermaid who wears a T-shirt.
    • Gonk mermaid Kokoro, on the other hand, does wear a Seashell Bra. One person asked if they really were seashells — Oda's initial response: "Does 'I don't want to think about it' count as an answer?"
    • Also, a few of the younger mermaids, especially the dancers, do. It's just not normal mermaid clothing.
  • Towards the end of the Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt episode "If Angels Wore Swimsuits", Panty's bikini becomes ripped by a Giant Crab Ghost and falls off. Unfortunately for all the onlooking male beach-goers, two Mini-Starfish Ghosts and a Sea Anemone Ghost jump up and latch onto her in just the right places.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Misty wears a pink one whenever she plays the Magical Mermaid. In her case, it's probably just a fabric bra that looks like seashells.
  • In an episode of the Ranma ½ anime, during an Eye Catch showing Akane as a mermaid, she wears a pink Seashell Bra.
  • Seria from Rave Master has an interesting variation: she wears a bikini top... with a shell motif.
  • In book 10 of the Urusei Yatsura manga, both Lum and Shinobu are disguised as mermaids and wear seashell bras.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Red Archery Girl and Toon Mermaid have these, although the English version of Red Archery Girl gives her an extra bit of cloth to wear under her bra.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! (first anime series): Miho wears a pink one as part of a mermaid costume she wore in a bikini contest after one of her competitors ruined her bikini.


  • Featured in a joke by comedian Ron White:
    Ron White: I didn't know this. If you find a girl wearing a seashell bra, and you pick her up, and put her to your ear, you can hear her scream. I thought I'd hear the ocean, but not over that bitch.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Adventure Time spin-off graphic novel Masked Mayhem, Lumpy Space Princess and her frenemy Melissa both dress as mermaids with seashell bras at a fancy dress party.
  • In the comic book Boneyard, one of the local Universal-like monsters is a female version of the Gill Man from Creature from the Black Lagoon. Nessie, as she's called, covers her monstrous Non-Mammal Mammaries with tiny seashell pasties. She also wears actual fishnet stockings.
  • Complete editions of Belgian comics Les Centaures by Pierre Seron explain that editors suggested the female centaur to wear seashells bras, despite having nothing to do with sea. The author objected she was so young and innocent she had nothing to hide. Europeans are more tolerant for young girls being topless if their breasts are not grown yet.
  • The Blue, a fictional underwater race from the Fathom comics, make all clothing up to full body armor using bits of underwater flora and fauna. Despite them also having far more advanced technology than surface dwellers.
  • In one issue of Katy Keene, Katy and Sis are mermaids wearing these.
  • Issues drawn by Adam Hughes (and some other artists about the same time) of the Legion of Super-Heroes and Legionnaires comics have had seashell bras (and bottoms) indicating nudity (simply assume they aren't there, then the characters' reactions make sense).
  • When Namorita, Distaff Counterpart of the Sub-Mariner, turned blue and changed her name to Kymera, she added a net skirt and one seashell "cup" to her bikini-like outfit.
  • Sun from Pocket God wears one.
  • There was a Mermaid Smurfette introduced in The Smurfs comic book series who wore a seashell bra. This character eventually got an appearance in the Smurfs Village game app.
  • The mermaid encountered by Superboy (Kon-El), as a sort of next-gen Lori Lemaris, in Adventure Comics 80 Page Giant. Post-Crisis Lori herself sometimes wears a normal bikini top, but more often has Godiva Hair. Pre-Crisis Lori wore something resembling a blouse or minidress at all times.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The mermaids in Ronno/Renno's underwater village wear sheshells over their breasts, while the mermen just go naked.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Coraline, The Other Forcible wears one dressed as Venus. She's an obese old lady.
  • Interesting variation in Disney's Fantasia, with female centaurs wearing tops and necklaces made out of flowers that appear to be motivated more by the Theiss Titillation Theory than actual modesty, even though the centauresses otherwise exhibit Barbie Doll Anatomy...
  • The Little Mermaid of course, though Ariel is unusual in that her top has a strap. Similar bras are worn by Ariel's six sisters and nearly all other female merfolk inhabiting Atlantica; the sea witch Ursula has octopus flesh go over her chest instead, though. Some people think the overweight mermaid illusion seen in Ursula's song has her chest covered by scales, but looking closely reveals she too wears a Seashell Bra.
  • In Madagascar, when Gloria washes ashore, she has two starfish on her chest (beside the fact that there is nothing there to cover) and a crab on her crotch (make of that what you will).
  • The title character of Paprika wears one while briefly in mermaid form.
  • Before The Little Mermaid there was Peter Pan, whose mermaids sported a motley mix of Godiva Hair, seashell bras, and starfish pasties.
  • In Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans, we see one alternate universe where the team are mermaids. Starfire has a seashell bra, while Robin has the starfish version. In contrast, Raven has the Ursula look, Beast Boy is a turtle, and Cyborb still has a metal torso.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Why does Ariel wear seashells? Because B-shells are too small and D-shells are too big!

  • Bad Mermaids: Long ago, all mermaids wore shell tops, which are two shells connected by string. Nowadays T-shirts are more common, but shell tops are still fairly popular. Last century there was a fad for shell tops with huge shoulder pads.
  • In The Copper Promise by Jen Williams, it's briefly mentioned that one of the designs Wydrin considered for her tattoo was a mermaid with "giant barnacles".
  • Dinoverse: Not a mermaid, but in I was a Teenage T. rex, one of the leads becomes a Leptoceratops, and despite not having anything to cover she didn't feel comfortable going naked. She tries sticking leaves on with sap — they fall off. The Quetzalcoatlus character takes pity on her and makes a top-and-bottom out of seashells with holes poked in them and strung together by vines; these last a little longer.
  • In InCryptid, sirens who visit beaches wear these, to discredit any reports of "mermaid sightings".
  • In an early scene from Robert A. Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil, Eunice and her husband are discussing the mermaid body paint she'll be wearing to work the next day. (Office dress codes having gotten really casual in the future.) They make a bet over whether a literally painted-on Seashell Bra will fool her employer into thinking it's real. (It does.)
  • Mermaids of Eriana Kwai: Most merfolk go naked, but some of Queen Medusa's citizens wear clothes, including both human-style bikini tops and live sea creatures.
  • In Not Quite a Mermaid, illustrations show some mermaids wearing seashell bras and others wearing human-style bikini tops.
  • The Sabrina the Teenage Witch novelization "Age of Aquariums" (in which Sabrina transforms herself into a mermaid) features a cover picture of Sabrina wearing a seashell bra. The book itself doesn't state whether she wears one or not.
  • In The Vazula Chronicles, all mermaids wear a pair of large seashells. Poor mermaids like Merletta wear only that, while wealthier mermaids can afford more elaborate coverings and jewelry. Mermaids only take off their shells when exchanging them for new ones, and an adult mermaid can wear the same pair of shells for years.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The mermaids in Charmed have a variation where their breasts are covered by strategically-placed scales. Worth noting is that the hair of the actresses playing mermaids was too short to function as Godiva Hair.
  • Faerie Tale Theatre's adaptation of "The Little Mermaid" used an interesting scheme: if a mermaid was out of the water (like sitting on the beach for instance), she had Godiva Hair, whereas while she was underwater (and thus her hair would be floating around and unable to do its Godiva Hair function), she had a Seashell Bra, or more specifically, two scallop shells stuck to her chest with no straps whatever, not even one connecting the two shells.
  • Mermaids in H₂O: Just Add Water and Mako Mermaids: An H₂O Adventure have scales in exactly the same pattern as a bra, complete with straps, with a bare midriff between that and the scales of their tails. Mermen are bare chested.
  • Mortified: The mermaid costume Taylor wears (and almost drowns in) in "Mother in the Nude" incorporates a seashell bra.
  • Despite her being an iconic example, the live-action Ariel in Once Upon a Time doesn't wear a strapless seashell bra, but instead sports one made out of... something. It's encrusted with pearls, gems, and shells, but appears to be some kind of purple leather.
  • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: Played With Marina, a mermaid and love interest to Chad, who wears something similar to a seashell bra.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The 2nd edition Monstrous Manual depicts an aquatic elf in a Seashell Bra and a mermaid in something a little scalier.
  • The Orotheans in Magi-Nation play this trope straight.
  • The mermaid in Res Arcana uses two seashells as a bra.

  • The Lady of the Lake from Spamalot wears a seashell bra over a long gown.

    Video Games 
  • Dead or Alive
    • Helena's Godfather bikini (and its palette swaps) from Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 is this... though it's so small it's more like Seashell PASTIES...
    • Her "Ultimate Sexy Costume" DLC in Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate edition, which largely resembles the above bikini.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Surprising no one, Kiara Sesshouin's summer swimsuit form creates the appearance with a strategically-placed clamshell necklace over Barely-There Swimwear. Since she cites The Little Mermaid as one of her favorite stories, it's probably an homage to the Disney version.
  • AnticEnt's online Kingdoms CCG has the elemental hero Jorma, who wears starfish on her breasts because she's just that badass.
  • Used in King's Quest II; Graham has to charm a merwoman that's sunning herself on Kolyma's shore.
  • In Lollipop Chainsaw, a seashell bikini is an alternate skin Juliet Starling can wear.
  • In Panel de Pon, Neris and Natia wear one.
  • Played with in Persona 4. During the beach trip, Kanji loses his speedo due to Teddie's antics. The Protagonist has the option to tell Kanji to cover his man-parts with a seashell to which Kanji almost agree to do but rejected it because its "too sexy".
  • The Pokémon Gorebyss appears to have one even though it isn't remotely humanoid.
  • Anneta Fish from Rayman Origins wears a clamshell pasty that somehow sticks to her breasts.
  • Rumble Roses has the seashell bikini, it is available for all girls in the cast aside from the robots.
  • RuneScape: The discontinued Tropical Islander outfit is comprised of an enormous seashell bra and short grass skirt. The male variant is bare-chested.
  • Shantae:
    • Parodied via a series of in-character Twitter posts. Shantae takes a bath in a pond, but finds her clothes missing when she comes back for them. Not wanting to run around naked, she tries using whatever she can reach from the water to cover herself, including the wildlife.
      Shantae: Well, I've tried wearing all sorts of aquatic creatures and am pretty badly hurt at this point.
    • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero: While most mermaids in the series are topless (don't worry, nothing is shown), Giga Mermaid has her chest covered with a pair of shells that are bigger than Shantae herself. When Shantae transforms into a mermaid, she instead has a large starfish clinging to her back with two of its tentacles wrapped around her chest.
  • The Neireid queen in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters.
  • Terraria: A top made out of seashells is part of the female variant of the Mermaid Costume that can be randomly given from the Angler. The male variant wears a necklace instead.
  • Virgo Versus the Zodiac: Pisces the Redeemer, a mermaid with fish motifs, wears a top made of seashells and fish scales.
  • In World of Warcraft, the dryads (centaur-like creatures with the upper body of an elf and the lower body of a deer) wear a terrestrial variant, a bra made of leaves (although, as they also have plant-like traits, it may be part of their bodies). Averted with the female naga (the closest thing the game has to a mermaid), who have breasts covered with scales, or wear the top of a Chainmail Bikini.
  • Mermaidyn from Yo-kai Watch has a strapless variant. She just has two seashells over her breasts.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: In one Strong Bad E-mail, SB nicknames a cardboard cutout of a mermaid Princess Shellbra.
  • In a disturbing subversion by guro manga artist Shintaro Kago, this animation depicts the shells on a mermaid's breasts to hide sharp-toothed mouths. One of them opens up and eats a fish alive.


    Web Original 
  • Clamshelle is the only one so far wearing a seashelle bra, the other ones usually wear flowers or something akin to a bathing suit top, like Sing or Oyster
  • Asked about on DeviantArt, "The Mermaid Problem." Considers the theory if females are born with it, and if not, how they measure cup/clam size. Also deconstructs it by asking why Mermaids wearing dead clams as their bras if they are friends with fish.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Puss in Boots: The hideous mermaid who insists on following Puss everywhere in "Mermaid" wears a seashell bra.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks:
    • Jeanette in the episode "Sploosh" (a parody of Splash) where she is a mermaid.
    • Brittany in "Alvie's Angels" when she use a mermaid disguise.
  • Animaniacs:
    • Averted with Mindy in the episode "Mermaid Mindy" (whose fish tail forms a sort of onesie) but implied with her mother (who we only see from behind, with a visible red strap).
    • An issue of the comic featured a spoof of the Little Mermaid with Minerva Mink as the mermaid, wearing a shell bra exactly like Ariel's.
  • Subverted during both episodes of The Backyardigans that have mermaids, "Viking Voyage" and "Into the Deep". During those episodes, Tasha and Uniqua are mermaids (well, Uniqua just in the latter), but their tails cover the entire torso, so they don't need seashell bras.
  • The Family Guy episode "Lois Kills Stewie" has a seashell speedo on a reverse mer-man: he's a fish on the top, and a man on the bottom.
  • Angel in Fish Police.
  • Averted in an episode of Futurama, where Fry's mermaid fiancee wears a tube-top.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Heloise wears one during a Dream Sequence where she's a mermaid.
  • Johnny Bravo: In the episode "Moby Jerk", the rude mermaid Johnny encounters wears a strapless one.
  • AndrAIa from ReBoot is a bit more modest than the typical mermaid (at least at first), wearing one gigantic scallop shell that covers her entire torso. After the Timeskip she gets a more Stripperific outfit with a bra that appears to be made out of some kind of fish skin.
  • In Regular Show, during Mordecai's dream sequence in the episode "Meat Your Maker", he envisions Margaret wearing one that just barely covers her lady pecs.
  • Deconstructed for Black Comedy in Robot Chicken in one sketch about Ariel and her siblings going out among the fish citizens, where they callously grab the nearest fish to use as accessories. They rip apart a clam family to make bras, making "pasties" out of the baby one.
  • Daphne and Miyumi wind up wearing these when they are captured by the natives in Scooby-Doo! and the Samurai Sword.
  • In The Simpsons' parody of The Odyssey, the sirens wear these. They're "played" by Patty and Selma.
  • Smurfette in The Smurfs episode "Sassette's Bewitching Friendship" wore one when Melina the good witch accidentally changed her into a mermaid.
  • Fan Disservice/Parody the Spongebob Squarepants' superhero parody Mermaid Man has a pair of shells over his completely round torso, despite the Aquaman-esque orange scale shirt he also wears.
    • Played With in some episodes, where mermaids can be seen wearing normal bras with seashells randomly attached to the front, as seen here.
    • Averted by Mindy in The Movie, who just wears a pink shirt.
  • Tom in Tom and Jerry Tales has two starfish on his chest with his unintentional mermaid disguise in "Octo-Suave".
  • Bloom in Winx Club has one of her bikinis with this.
  • The early '90s Spanish variety show ¿Pero Esto Que Es? had a regular animated segment called Las Vacaciones de Vicky starring the show's animated mascot Vicky Rabbit, in which she and Zanahorio the anthropomorphic carrot are trapped on a Deserted Island, and she wears a loincloth and seashell pasties.

    Real Life 
  • Many companies that make swimwear have marketed actual bikinis with tops like this. Such swimwear tends to be very expensive, and usually isn't the type you should actually swim in.
  • Raina the Halifax Mermaid wears a seashell bra during most of her appearances, but in later days has started wearing one made from an octopus. According to her, little kids were fascinated by it (not in that way!), poking it to see if it was real (it isn't).
  • Professional mermaids — as in people who wear the costume and perform in the water — are likely to wear normal bikini tops that are designed like seashell bras.
  • The 1986 Expo in Vancouver B.C. had "Transportation" as its theme, and appropriately, they had an old sailing ship as one of the exhibits, which had a bare-breasted mermaid as a figurehead. However, the manager of the World's Fair was an Evangelical Christian, and to general public hilarity, he insisted that the mermaid be clad in a specially constructed seashell bra.