If you're a first-time mannequin buyer, you may be
apprehensive about how to choose mannequins for your store or boutique.
With so many choices, it can be confusing. Should I buy
mannequins with eggheads, or realistic mannequins? If I choose
European-style mannequins, do I want them with
molded hair, or should I
get wigs for my mannequins? What poses are best?
European Mannequin with Wig
The most basic information that we can offer is that you're making a
sound choice. Investing in mannequins offers you "silent salespeople" -
they are always there, even when your store is closed, offering your
customers the ability to imagine your clothing on their bodies. To that
end, your mannequin choices should reflect your customer base, and your
A great example of making mannequins 'match' their customers are the
large-breasted, 'sexy' mannequins. These were created for a market that
included many women who had undergone breast augmentation. For them to
best visualize themselves in displayed clothing, the breasts needed to
match. Lingerie departments, swimsuit stores and costume shops often
prefer at least some sexy mannequins. They don't all have exaggerated
curves; some are simply molded in more suggestive poses than more
standard mannequin choices.
This is also true of maternity stores, where pregnant mannequins (or
at least a maternity pillow) are a must, or of plus-size areas of
department stores, where equally plus-size mannequins show off clothing
for their demographic. It is only recently that mannequins' sizes are
beginning to match the way many Americans are actually proportioned;
this allows nearly everyone (although there are not yet many 'petite'
mannequins) to visualize themselves in garments worn by mannequins.
Plus Size and Maternity Mannequins
The first question that you might ask yourself is: Who are my
The more your mannequins 'relate' to your customer base,
the more they will sell for you.
Second: What is my brand?
Is your store sleek, hi-tech, modern?
Are you a boutique with bohemian styling?
In general, abstract or egghead mannequins are the choice for stores
with a more stylized look. Depending on your clientele, they are
available in white (cameo), black and a rainbow of colors. To further
narrow your choice, take your customers' age into consideration -
younger is usually associated with brighter, livelier looks and more
playful mannequin poses, and expressions.
Abstract Cameo Mannequin with Built-in Shoes
In place of fiberglass mannequins, some stores choose the more
organic look of dress forms. Available as torsos with or without arms or
as whole bodies, dress form mannequins are easy to dress, less fragile
than regular mannequins, and easier to move. Like abstract mannequins,
dress forms are also available in many colors. Unlike many fiberglass
mannequins, seamstress forms are available in a wide variety of sizes,
Dress Forms in Antique and Red
Consider some basics of design when dressing your mannequins. If you
have a blouse that's available in white, bright colors or black, and you
have white mannequins, choose items that will contrast with the
Remember that people like to have ideas laid out for them. Add
matching jewelry and other accessories to make it easier for customers
to visualize an outfit with more than just the basic clothing - and sell
Realistic Female Mannequins with Wigs
Creativity is an asset when it comes to merchandising, and mannequins
are no exception. Having a variety of mannequin wigs can make changing
your mannequins' appearance easy and inexpensive. This store near a
beach used standing mannequins, but positioned them horizontally to make
them appear to be swimming.
Choosing mannequins in varied poses adds interest to mannequin
groupings, as does changing them around often. When choosing the number
and type to buy, consider how much space you have to work with (vertical
and horizontal), taking into account that you don't want customers
bumping into the mannequins. Most stores choose to utilize either
realistic or abstract mannequins, but not both. In either case, there
are multiple styles and poses to allow you plenty of opportunity for
For the most flexibility in poses, choose an articulated or flexible
mannequin that you can reposition as many times and as often as you
A traditional Thai Thosaganth costume shown
on a Bendable Male Mannequin
Remember that mannequins are a sales tool. The better they represent
your customers, the better they will be accepted as contemporaries.
Whatever style you choose, buy with confidence - there is no better way
to display clothing than on a three-dimensional mannequin.