I can see it in my mind’s eye.  The dust motes are slowly making their swirling decent to the attic floor, the air thick with lint and dust particles suspended in the dappled ray of sunshine.  Just to the right is a form…a shape of a woman.  She is headless, therefore lifeless, but dressed to the nines.  She can’t realize the importance of her firm figure in the frilly dress.   She can’t feel the sharp stick of the pins holding the sleeve of the dress to its bodice. 

That dress form in grandma’s attic has graduated to the floors of the swankiest fashion retailers to display haute couture to customers whose wardrobe is a staple of custom-tailored dresses.  Mannequins and dress forms add interest to retail displays and give the clothes they model a chic, 7th Avenue feel.  Clothing retailers are creating lifestyle vignettes to depict outdoor activities for sportswear, marathon or gym activities for workout apparel and elegant ballrooms for black tie evening wear.  While grandma’s dress form lacked a head, today’s mannequins have personality that shines forth from a complete head-to-toe look.     

Mannequins should look at least a bit like real models, especially when they’re used to display spring and summer wear.  More of the mannequin is showing, so it’s even more important to choose high-quality displays so that they look realistic in terms of skin tone, hair and shape.  If the mannequin is slated for a vignette, it should also look the part – don’t put a headless dress form in a beach scene.  Likewise, dress forms work well in rows across the top of a group of cubbies filled with inventory, or at waist-level wearing light-weight spring sweaters and colorful, flowing scarves   They’re great for accessories like belts and necklaces, but of course, sun glasses or earrings won’t do. 

Think about your store layout.  Then cast your mannequin forms in the right roles, according to a plan that makes your merchandise the star, and the display device merely a prop.