Mannequins, Dress Forms & Models...Oh My!
If you are selling clothing on Ebay you will eventually ask yourself what is the best way to display your items. If you only sell clothing on rare occassion then you probably do not want to invest in a mannequin or dress form. You may find that a hanger on the back of a door works fine for you.
But, if you plan on selling clothing on a regular basis then sooner or later you will find yourself asking "what's best?" I hope this guide will help make that decision a little easier for you.
This is a non biased guide. I am a vintage clothing seller with a passion for mannequins but I use dress forms and models as well. You may find that I have a mannequin or 2 listed from my collection now and then but I am not a dealer. The following tips are things I've learned selling clothing on Ebay for 7 years. I sell under the Ebay ID TheVintagePeddler .
There are several choices available when deciding how best to display your clothing items.
Hanging Half Forms are light weight, easy to store and a very good option for those just starting to sell clothing. You can usually pick one up on ebay for $20 or less including shipping and they come in various colors, styles & genders. They are also readily available in childrens sizes.
Pros: Inexpensive, easy to dress, easy to store. Can display most any item - tops, pants, coats, jackets, etc.
Cons: Not great for displaying rear view of items or sleeves.
Just Torsos are another inexpensive alternative especially if you specialize in tops, shirts, blouses, bras or jackets.
Pros: Inexpensive, good for displaying shirts & jackets, easy to store.
Cons: Limited use as you can only display shirts & jackets and not pants or dresses. Does not show sleeves well.
Dress form These are wonderful! I couldn't live without mine. They are perfect for showing off a special item of clothing like a vintage dress or coat when you want ALL the focus to be on the item itself. There are three main catagories of dress forms:
- Seamstress Dress Form - is the least expensive of the three and are usually adjustable & light weight.
- Store Display Dress Form - is a nice mid range option. These can be purchased new and look quite nice. They are sometimes refered to as French Forms. Look for a sturdy base that is wide enough to support the form otherwise these can be easily knocked over. The little round bases are not as sturdy as the three legged bases.
- Professional Dress Forms - are my favorite but they are an investment. They are the most sturdy and will last forever.
Pros: Easy to dress, can be an inexpensive option, highlights the clothing itself, easier to store than a mannequin and less fragile.
Cons: Does not show how an item will look when worn on a human body.
Mannequins are perfect when you want to show how your item will look when worn. They are best when you want to highlight the fit, the curve of the waist or a special bust treatment. Lets face it, a pretty bra will look better on a mannequin than on a dress form any day. There are several things to consider when shopping for a mannequin.
- Size & Shape - You will want your mannequin to be in a reasonable size so that most of your items will fit on her. You can always pin your clothing back but if your mannequin is too large than you risk damaging your clothing or having them not fit at all.
- Pose - Obviously you want your clothing to look good on your mannequin. It is best to go with a simple pose. Consider how clothing will look on her before you buy. You probably do not want one with legs too spread out or in an unnatural pose.
- Fittings - With mannequins you will find that oftentimes you will have to remove the arms in order to dress her. Make sure your mannequin's arms are easy to remove and replace.
- Stand & Rod - You'll want a sturdy stand. I prefer a glass stand but metal stands are alright. Now, the rod placement is a very important consideration. Options are usually a butt rod, a calf rod or a foot rod. With a butt rod you will not be able to put pants on your mannequin so if you sell pants you would want to go with a calf or foot rod. Keep in mind that with a foot rod your mannequin will not be able to wear shoes. Wow, a lot to think about. A calf rod is the most versatile option.
Pros: A great alternative to dress forms when you want to show some 'personality' in how your clothing will look when worn.
Cons: More difficult to dress than a dress form, harder to store and more delicate.
Finally- what about a Live Model? You may have noticed that several sellers are quite successfully using live models. I think, when done correctly, a live model model can be a real asset in your listing. When you are selling trendy clothing a young, hip model with the right accessories can really help your target market visualize themselves wearing that outfit. On the other hand I have seen some truely distracting models that did nothing but take the focus off the item for sale. You will want to make sure that your model looks good in your clothing. Now that may be stating the obvious but from what I have seen (and you know you have seen it too) it needs to be said. Another thing when photographing live models is to look at the background. This is actually true no matter if your using a model, dress form or mannequin. You don't necessarily need a plain backdrop. Anything can work as your background as long as it is not too busy or distracting. Remember, you want the focus to be on what you are selling.
Pros: Hey, they dress themselves, clothes will look most natural on a person.
Cons: Difficult to find a good model, they need to be properly accessorized including makeup, hair, shoes, etc. and most likely you will have to pay them.
I hope that you have found this guide helpful. Please look for my upcoming guide called "What Kind Of Mannequin Do I Have?"