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February 07, 2017 3 min read

If you are a fashion design student or a professional custom dress maker, then you must be aware with the importance and uses of a dress form.  A body form or a dress form is an essential helping tool that assists professionals in pattern making or draping. Dress forms have been used by everyone from the ancient rulers to store owners and they are stuck around to this day thanks to their extreme usefulness. Whether you need to make slight alterations, a window display, cap off a table or even show off clothing – dress forms may be just the ticket.

The History & Evolution Of Dress Forms:

The history and evolution of dress forms can actually be traced back to ancient Egypt. It was a medieval time, when queens and kings were very conscious about their appearance. Being the subject of many valuable portraits or paintings, they of course wanted to look their best. However, a dress fitting would involve them stripping down to their underwear or further. In order to avoid the embarrassment they would have dress forms made in according to their exact body dimensions. Dress makers or tailors would then utilize these resources to design royal precious garments and display them easily once complete. The dress form was created in order to avoid the fitting mistakes to the royal clothing of  queens and kings.  

The dress form often made with the materials such as paper mache, wood and even wicker became essential in the 16th and 17th centuries. As the years went by, dress forms were then made with fabric and even wires for a more human-like and structured form when sewing clothes.   

The Birth of Mannequins

The dress forms are the basics of mannequins. Although, mannequins are now the storefront queens that you’ve probably noticed while doing window shopping. It has a common ground and purpose. In the late 1700, wicker work mannequins were used in. They were built out of wicker and stuffed with leather to give them structure or shape. The first wicker work mannequin was appeared in the 18th century and was made to order.

In 1835, wire framed mannequins came into use. The first Full bodied mannequin was introduced by a Parisian ironmonger in the France in 1870. While in the mid-nineteenth century the first fashion mannequins were developed, but they were still only used by dressmakers or tailors as dress forms. It wasn’t until a few years later, when several major changes in manufacturing and technology occurred that brought revolution in the fashion and also the emergence of the mannequin as we know it today.

Although both the dress form and mannequins come together in the fashion world but still they are very much different. Each has its own usefulness, functions and personality. The dress form (also referred as Judy) is less elegant rather than the statuesque mannequin, that always seems to be faceless but has her own beauty and elegance.

The need and importance of dress forms in the 21st century:

Since the days of ancient rulers, things have come a long way. With the economic change following the industrial revolution the need for dress forms and mannequins increased as the textile industry was booming and the bourgeois class had a strong influence on the fashion and culture. As luxury goods become accessible and were widespread, the boutiques or dress shops pushed the dress forms into action which eventually became the reason why display windows were donning savy mannequins.

 Today dress forms are among the most vital store fixtures, helping tool that you can have. They are a common sight at many shops, departmental stores and other boutiques, regardless of what type of merchandise the owners are trying to sell. Dress makers, individual items, dresses, suits, sewing servces – all of these things can be promoted well with the help of the right dress form.

Having a dress form in today's fashion world can show how the pieces will fit and fall while making it easier to adjust or alter the garments. Their design is such that they can accurately display just how an ensemble will hang on a particular figure, and the forms are available in various shapes and sizes so people can get a true depiction as to how the outfit will look.

A dress form is all about perfecting the art of making clothes. With a wealth of resources at their disposal, designers and fashion students now have more options for bringing the latest fashion to a wider range of people.