Mannequins are often referred to as silent salespeople, but just how effective and effortlessly they can generate those sales depends on many factors.

At we serve a lot of first time mannequin buyers.  So we are used to educating customers about the nuances of mannequins. We call it “getting smart about buying dummies.”


Mannequins are “silent salespeople,” and they have different types of sales “personalities”. Knowing what to look for will enable you to get the most value out of your investment.

To put it in context: In real life if you were hiring a salesperson to work at The Gap, the qualifications for that person would be different from the qualifications of a salesperson hired to work at Gucci.  The same is true with mannequins – there has to be a right “fit” in order for them to do their job of selling.

The following  questions will guide you in selecting the right mannequin for your needs.


1 What is the image of my store?  To do this list a few adjectives that describe your brand such as:  minimalist? sleek? shabby chic? whimsical? sexy?  Because you mannequins need to mirror your brand.

All of the mannequins posted in this blog are from different lingerie stores. Even though the store’s are selling essentially the same product each store has a different style and ambience which is reflected in their mannequins. The pose, color, choice of whether or not to use a realistic face versus abstract or headless.

A chrome or transparent mannequin for example might be ideal for a store with a sleek, European vibe (seen in stores like Prada and Armani). Whereas a mannequin in a bright pop of color would be suited for a store catering to a youth market (seen in H&M stores).

aa83f474c49e6346ccddc2467cf34a002. Who is my customer and what does she/he look like? If your clientele is teenagers for example you wouldn’t want missy looking mannequins. If you have an ethnically diverse clientele, you might want your mannequins to reflect that.

One customer of ours was a tanning salon with clothing boutique inside. After reading our blog they realized that instead of buying the less expensive headless mannequins they were leaning towards, a better investment would be rrealistic looking, tanned mannequins in sexy poses.

Once they did, not only did their clothing sales increase but their regular customers developed a connection with the mannequins – giving them names as if they were staff members. (which they technically are)

3. Will I put shoes on the mannequin? This will help you determine the type of mannequin stand to avoid. Some mannequin stands go in the foot of the mannequin so you can’t put shoes on the mannequin. But these stands are very stable if you are putting mannequins outside or in an area where people might bump up against the mannequin.

If you need to put shoes on the mannequin then you will want a stand that goes in the calf of the mannequin’s leg. Some older mannequins have a stand with a rod that goes into the butt of the mannequin.

So although you can put shoes on the mannequin, you can’t put pants on it. Typically when people buy that style mannequin they are putting evening gowns on the mannequin.


Speaking of stands, do you want a metal or glass stand? Glass is the preference for high end stores, yet glass is more fragile

BTW, some mannequins have formed shoes on their feet, which retailers who are selling upscale clothing prefer. This way they don’t have to find shoes for the mannequin (especially if they don’t sell shoes at their store), and it keeps the mannequin from looking “barefoot.”



4. What is the general price point of my merchandise? The more expensive the clothing, the more expensive looking the mannequin needs to be. Back to the Gucci/Gap comparison – you won’t see these stores carrying the same brand/style of mannequin.

An alternative for those retailers who have a “Gucci” type product but a “Gap” budget, then buying a gently used pre-owned designer mannequin is an option.

These are mannequins that we’ve recycle from retailers like Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Neiman’s and others chains when they remodel their stores. These mannequins are in good to excellent condition, just no longer the latest trend so the stores are getting rid of them.

The brands of mannequins these retailers carry are top of the line – Rootstein, Pucci, Goldsmith, Patina V,  Schlappi  – which normally cost $700 and up brand new but you can buy used from $175-$300.


5. What type of merchandise will the mannequins be wearing? Lingerie, evening gowns? pants? athletic gear?

If you are selling athletic wear, a mannequin in an active pose is preferred over one in an upright military pose. We sell a variety of sports mannequins in running and yoga poses.

Lingerie or swim wear mannequins would have a sexier vibe than a mannequin selling bridal wear.


6 Do you want a mannequin, a mannequin torso or a dress form? A torso or a dress form is going to much easier to dress but it doesn’t provide as realistic a look as as a full size mannequin.


7. Will you need to transport the mannequin to trade-shows or to photo-shoots or will it stay in one place? This is where a dress form would be preferable – if you are moving the mannequin around to different locations.


8. Where are the mannequins going to go and how many do I need? A mannequin in your window might be different than one inside the store. Mannequins in windows tend to have faces and are more eye-catching. Mannequins in the store are more utilitarian.

Have you measured your store window to see if it is tall and or wide enough to accommodate mannequins in different poses? 9

9 What type of mannequins are my competitors using?  Do you want to mimic what they are doing or do something completely different?


10 What type of pose works best? A relaxed pose for casual clothing, sexy pose for underwear.

A wide leg pose would be great for displaying pants but not for a tight pencil skirt. If you are displaying jewelry or other accessories on the mannequin, then you a pose that can showcase that – so a raised arm or one hand on the hip instead of a mannequin with both arms down.

And when you are buying multiple mannequins for a window, it is a good idea to have different types of poses – seated ones, reclining ones and standing ones in various stances.

A good visual merchandising trick is to not put ALL your mannequins in the window at once ALL the time. Vary how many mannequins you use from week to week will make your windows more interesting. 11

Other factors to consider for choosing your mannequin are: do you want the mannequin to wear a wig? Wigs require effort to maintain but the make the mannequin appear more human. And putting different styles and colors of wigs on the mannequin, will make it appear as if you have a different mannequins – which is a good thing.

If you don’t want a wig, do you want the mannequin to be bald or have formed hair? If you end up getting a headless mannequin, this article has idea on how to make DIY creative “temporary” heads for them.

If you still have questions about selecting the right mannequin, we are happy to help you with your choice. We have a wide variety of new and used mannequins from various manufacturers. So we have something for every budget and need.

Now that you have read this article, we highly recommend you visit our  Pinterest boards to examples of different types of store displays using mannequins, they are classified by product, industry and season.

 Call us at 510 444 0650 or email us at



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