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August 11, 2016 4 min read

As you already may know, the dress forms are used in tailoring and in apparel stores to display clothes. Therefore, dress forms are valuable things for both clothing creators and sellers. Even though we don’t pay attention to them in our everyday routine, we recall them the moment we go shopping.

Types & Styles of Dress Forms

When we are talking about dress forms or mannequins, we think, for no reason, at a woman’s body shape. It is true that most of the apparel stores have more women’s clothing, but men shouldn’t be forgotten. So, before going deep into the discussion of styles and colors of dress forms, we have to make a classification of it. Therefore, there are:

  • women dress forms
  • men dress forms
  • children dress forms
  • special dress forms

Women's dress forms

As the name suggests, this kind of dress forms resembles the woman’s body shape and it is used to display women clothing. There are some forms or styles that we can talk about regarding women dress forms. The style of women dress forms goes from simple to complex according to the different parts of the body included or not. The simplest dress form style is the one that everybody knows and can be described like this: a woman’s body shape, presenting a short part of the neck, shoulders, torso, down to the thighs. This style is very minimalist, the only notable detail being the breast’s form.

Another style, a more complex one, is characterized by the addition of arms. This dress form style is used for displaying all the sleeve clothing, from shirts and fancy sleeve dresses to warm sweaters and coats. We can also talk about simple dress forms which had been added legs in order to be able to display also women trousers, jeans, leggings so on and so forth.

The most complex dress form style is the one which resembles the most with the mannequin. That is the dress form which has arms and legs. We also have to mention the fact that, in most of the cases, the women dress forms express the image of the ideal woman’s body, with perfect shapes and measures.

Men's dress forms

Taking into consideration the fact that dress forms are mainly used to sell women clothes, men dress forms’ styles present almost the same characteristics as those made for women. So, we have the same simplest style of a man’s body shape (shoulders, torso, and thighs), the arm style one, the leg style one and, of course, all of them combined.

What is different about men dress forms’ style is that the torso is, almost every time, very well defined. Nowadays you can see in every apparel store men dress forms which have a very big and well defined chest, not to mention the six-pack abs. This is the modern perception of the ideal man’s body. 

Children's dress forms

The only difference between women / men dress forms’ styles and children dress form styles is the size. As we all know, children dress forms have different sizes, from 2 years old children body shape to that of a teenager. Another thing that is worth mentioning here is the fact that some of the children dress forms resemble very much with the body shape of a child, properly designed according to the age.

Special dress forms (including tailor's dummies)

In this category, we can include two types of dress forms: dress forms of special sizes, used for displaying overweight men and women’ s clothing and dress forms and mannequins made after the body shape of physically challenged people.

The first type of special dress forms was created not only for displaying overweight men and women’s clothing, but also for debunking the annoying myth of the ideal body shape. This type of dress forms helps us see the true reality we are living in and also giving up stereotypes.

The second type of special dress forms and mannequins is more than “special”. Dress forms and mannequins based on the bodies of physically challenged people were created for raising awareness in this truly image obsessed world of fashion.

An interesting side note, a Swiss charity organization for people with disabilities worked with persons suffering from different diseases and conditions, from curved spine (also known as scoliosis) and amputated limbs to paraplegia (an impairment in motor or sensory function of the lower extremities), in order to raise awareness that no one is perfect or has a perfect body. Each of the mannequins created from their body shape was displayed in a well-known apparel store in Zurich’s main shopping street.

The Various Colors of Dress Forms

Regarding colors used in dress forms, we can say that black, white and different skin tones prevail. Black and white dress forms are mostly used in tailoring, because they are simple and help the dressmaker to easily cut and sew materials of other colors. The different skin toned dress forms are more frequently used in apparel stores for displaying clothes in order to attract buyers.

There are some apparel store owners who use red, blue, green, orange, purple or even yellow and pink dress forms as a marketing strategy. These colors are considered to be very attractive to the human eye. “OK”, one may say, “but if I want to buy something from an apparel store, I buy clothes, not the dress form”.

The argument is true and solid, but what we want to say is that all these colors have the power to psychologically influence people. These colors combined with the correct color of clothing can determine a person to actually buy that piece of clothing.

For example, the colors mentioned earlier are the most important colors which can entice an American customer. Red color expresses energy, increases heart rate and is also able to create urgency, blue creates the sensation of trust and security, green is considered to be the easiest color for the eyes to process, used in stores to relax and also associated with wealth and pink is considered to be romantic and feminine and it is used to market products to women and young girls.