Most consumers would not realize that the well-positioned and well-dressed retail mannequins in window and retail floor displays started as a jumble of disconnected limbs in a storeroom. One may think that dressing a mannequin is an easy if not obvious task. Not so. There is a strategy and techniques to clothing and disrobing display mannequins to prevent damage to the form and your store merchandise. At Fashion schools and academies, entire courses are devoted to this seemingly simple task; it is that important to maintaining store fixtures and keeping your merchandise showroom new.

  1. Accept that this process takes time to perform correctly. Do not rush; allow yourself ample time. While you can dress the form yourself, using an assistant will speed the process.

  2. Do not dress your mannequins on the retail floor. Many customers do not like to see displays being assembled. And it is easy to misplace accessories or be interrupted by customers requiring assistance. The back room or a disused dressing room is best for this aspect of your display assembly.

  3. Select the mannequin type that best conveys the image you are trying to project. Most mannequins are made from durable but stiff fiberglass. Many mannequins are available in different poses which make for very life-like displays but require caution when clothing or disrobing these forms. Take extra care handling delicate heads and hands to avoid breakage.
  4. Inspect your mannequin for damage; use another if you find any cracks or nicks in the face or limbs. Make certain your mannequin is clean and smudge and dust free. Smudges are easy to remove with a soft wet toothbrush and a little toothpaste. Wipe the form down completely before you start to protect your garments.

  5. To begin, select the entire outfit the mannequin will wear.  Ensure that it is steamed and pressed (neckties, if using male mannequins, too!).  To remove tags or not to remove tags. We suggest that to avoid the aggravation of replacing a lost tag at the point of sale, simply tuck and pin the price tag discreetly inside the garment. Seams and label at the back of the neck or waistband work best.

  6. Select the appropriate pieces for your entire mannequin configuration from storage. Be aware that limbs from one mannequin line are not interchangeable with other mannequin lines. If fully assembled to begin with, detach the legs from the torso. Be mindful that mannequins are top heavy and awkward to handle. To remove the legs, twist the torso and pull it up. Once separated, turn the legs upside down, resting on the waist end. Add undergarments first (just like dressing yourself). Socks are next. Then carefully (especially if the legs are configured in a pose) add the pants or shorts. Do not crumple the garment; you will be steaming the finished display, care exercised at this point will save time later. For shoes other than slip-ons, now’s the time to add them.

  7. Turn the legs back upright. Select the base you will use and install it now. For the rest of the task, be sure to place one foot on the base at all times for stability.

  8. If your display is intended to showcase shoes, pants, shorts and belts, you are finished. With assistance, carry your mannequin to his window or retail floor destination.

  9. If the mannequin will be sporting a suit, dress shirt, tie or tee-shirt or even a polo, re-attach the torso at this point.

  10. Put the shirt on the torso then attach the arms and hands. Hands may be added to arms after the arms are attached to the torso if the sleeves are made from woven material or narrow to avoid damaging the garment.
  11. Finish dressing and styling your male mannequins. Slip-on shoes are added at this point. When you are finished, be sure to inspect your mannequin from every angle – your customers will!  Ensure tags are tucked away and that the garments are still clean and smudge-free. You can accessorize your mannequin when it is situated in its public display area.

  12. Have another person assist you to carry your dressed mannequins to their display area and help you position them. Do a final visual check to ensure that no tags, loose threads or debris are visible. Steam the outfits for a fresh appearance.  Accessorize with bracelets, watches, pocket handkerchiefs and headgear as needed.

You are now finished! It is a fact that displaying apparel and other merchandise on mannequins increases sales. Use these tricks to assist you and your associates to quickly create attractive mannequin displays and soon you’ll also see an increase in your store’s ROI!