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how to choose a mannequin

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 abstract 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?

Photo: Add some mystery to your mannequin.
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 branding.

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.

sexy pose sitting female mannequin
Sexy Mannequins

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.

headless female mannequins   pregnant maternity mannequin
Plus Size and Maternity Mannequins

The first question that you might ask yourself is: Who are my customers?
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.

dept store mannequin
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, too.

form dress mannequin Red Female Dressmaker Mannequin Form
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 mannequins' finish.

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 more!

Photo: Three new beautiful mannequin styles just arrived. Alyssa, Chrissy and Diana. They're ready to make your display window stand out.
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.

Photo: We love to see creative things being done with our mannequins - the Candy Corner in Cataumet, Massachusetts used two child size mannequins (standing models) and reconfigured them to look like they are swimming - in the ceiling space of their marine-themed store! Great idea.

Thank you David!

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 creativity.

For the most flexibility in poses, choose an articulated or flexible mannequin that you can reposition as many times and as often as you wish.

Photo: A traditional Thai Thosaganth costume - awesome.

Thanks Avi!
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.

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