Dress Form or Mannequin???

What do I buy???


If you are thinking are starting any form of fashion career, selecting the correct Dress Form is as important as a photographer selecting the correct camera.

Many different names are used to describe both a Dress Form and Dress Mannequin so choosing the correct type is difficult when you are starting out.

Dress Form, Dressmaker Mannequin, Dressmaker Dummy, Womens Dummy, Tailors Dummy, Display Dummy, Display Mannequin…and so on

Here are a few important things to consider before purchasing a Dress Form.


  1. Dress Form or Dress Mannequin???

There is a big difference between the two.

A Dress MannequinDress Mannequin

  • Ultimately intended for displaying fashion garments
  • Retail clothing shops, Photographers- photo shoot campaign etc
  • Unrealistic proportions for body shape
  • Less body shape definitions ie. slender hip, less bust shaping and very little under bust definition.
  • Clothes hang better on the smoother shaping
  • No padding for pinning
  • Plastic or fiberglass shape.
  • Very lightweight for mobility
  • Approximately $100-200 depending on quality



Dress Form

A Dress Form

  • Ultimately intended for creating fashion garments
  • Pinnable, has a padded layer. The generous padding under the canvas cover makes your form easy to pin eg draping
  • More realistic body shape..make sure dummy has bottom shaping
  • Collapsible shoulder ..get this feature if possible, makes it easier to get garments on and off. eg skirt, dress
  • Much more sturdy …wheels if possible. Having a mobile dummy is very handy to move around the workroom
  • More weight making them much easier to work with e.g. draping
  • Full body or half body
  • Used by Dressmakers, Fashion Students Fashion Industry etc….
  • Approximately $300-1200 depending on quality & type


  1. Which one do I choose? 
  • What is the purpose…do I want it for displaying garments or creating them?
  • Do you intend to use often or occasionally i.e.. hobby or professional
  • How long do you want it to last?
  • What type of garments am I creating or displaying..do I need legs??
    ie Dresses, pants, skirts swimsuit, intimate apparel etc.
  • Is it needed short term or long term?
  • Look for words like Hobbyist (this is generally a basic dress form designed for occasional use) or Professional (generally abetter quality dress form to be used often and required to last long term)
  1. How much should I pay?
  • Buying a dress form is like buying a car; Work out how much you can spend then do your homework to get the best deal and quality in your price range.
  • Generally the top end dress forms have mechanisms that are meant to last.
  • For custom garments there are adjustable models ranging in price & quality
  • A good ‘middle of the road’ budget is around $300-400
  1. What size to buy?
  • As there are dummies imported from all over the world the sizing charts will vary considerably.
  • Pay less attention to the size eg. 6,8,10,12 etc and focus on the bust waist hip and back length (if possible). You align your mannequins to the sizing you are intending to create.

example: The patterns I produce are for a 90 Bust, 68 Waist, 93 Hip. Take those measurements and align them as close as possible to the measurement chart to choose the dummy size you would like to purchase. By this chart I would purchase a size 8

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  1. Where to buy

To sum up….Before you purchase anything, assess what you need, how much you can afford and how long do you want it to last.

Reference Pages.. more info

Threads Magazine http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/45700/how-to-select-the-perfect-dress-form/page/all

Questions??? Email me virginia@fashionworkroom.com.au