Tips and ideas on how to dress a window

A creative window display can prove to be an inexpensive marketing tool for your business. Done well, a window display can be attention-grabbing, drawing customers into your store. The display doesn't need to be elaborate. Very often less is more.

Many of the big retailers get the structure of their windows set, so that dressing the window and changing the window is simpler and less costly in the future. And when it’s simpler and cheaper to change, it’s more likely to be done.

Lighting is critical

Lights do not just have to come from the ceiling. They can sometimes help display the products better when coming from the floor or the side of the window. Lighting is critical; make sure there is enough, as a dark window is not going to stand out and show off the school uniform to its full potential. Spotlights are a good idea as these can be diverted to key areas of the window to create a focus. In addition, lighting doesn't just have to brighten the area, it can be used to catch the attention. While there could be a cost involved with the fitting of great lighting, it is there for as long as you want it, you just may have to change a bulb or two now and again. Look out for bargains on websites such as ebay.


The current trend seems to be for big imposing images. Should these be produced on foamex or display board each time a window is created, every display is likely to become very expensive. The large retailers therefore build or create a backdrop, either out of studded wall, or graphic frames. Initially there is an outlay for these, but once made or purchased the ongoing costs are much lower. The backdrop also creates a separation between the store and the window, without having to block the view of the store or any natural light. If studded walls are created, they do not have to go across the whole back of the window. Leaving spaces can let light in and allow you to get in and out of the window with your mannequins wearing the school uniform and graphics.

Reduce the clutter

People only have so much attention to give. Show a customer one product and you’re dealing with 100% of their attention. Show them two products and you’ve got only half as much attention on each. It is therefore a trend to keep windows more simple and less cluttered. Customers have maybe a second or two to process the information coming to them from a window display. Too much clutter will make it difficult to process that information and for it to make sense in the mind of the customer.

Can the window tell a story?

This was a bit of a trend in the 1970’s but it just adds interest to a window. Two mannequins in an AKOA sportswear window for example could be throwing a ball to each other, it's easy to suspend a ball from the ceiling. You could also display some summer dresses in the window and suspend mock butterflies in front of a summer/spring image. What about a themed window? Create a story that is relevant and ideally in the news. Another idea relating to this is to give the images props. An example is the image below, which shows the table tennis player playing his shot, and the ball is suspended from the ceiling to give the window a 3D feel.

Different depths and heights

A common mistake is when mannequins are placed in a window and they are all stood up, facing the same direction and in a perfect line in terms of distance from the window. From looking at some of the better windows on the high street it becomes clear that using different depths and heights creates more interesting school uniform displays, and will prove more appealing to your customers.

Use the window itself

Your display should include the window itself, in the form of vinyls, as well as the area directly behind it. Again this can really create an impact for your customers

Use large, clear graphics

You want your window to be clear to people driving past or on the other side of the street, so use large images with large clear text, so it can be read by all.

Be creative and stand out

Use props. You can now find lots of things and quite inexpensively on the Internet, especially ebay. It does not have to be complicated.

Think about your stock

This may seem obvious, but ensure that you put items you have in stock in your window. It’s likely to prove frustrating if a customer comes into the shop to purchase what they have seen in an attractive window to find it is not available for them to pruchase. Also consider putting items in the window you have plentiful stocks of and would like to get your levels down, or even those you make a higher margin on.

Change your window in line with events or seasons

Change your window display regularly with the seasons and when you get new school uniform garments that your business has to offer. Keep your window display interesting to passers-by and they will be more likely to drop in. Is it an Olympic or World Cup year, or do things for annual events that are in the news such as the Tour de France. Doing anything in conjunction with your schools could be very effective. Parents always love to see their child’s work on display in public

Movement attracts the eye

Studies by POPAI (Point of Purchase and Advertising Institute) have shown that displays with motion can increase sales by up to 317%! Nothing attracts more attention to a window than movement. There are many ways of achieving this, such as: animated figures, props or mannequins, items on turntables, moving signs, scrolling banners, lights moving or changing colour, computer displays or video projection. Sit down and see how many ideas you can come up with. You will surprise yourself. There are many things that can be done, even on a limited budget.

Get your message across

Did you know that including a message of some type with your display will increase its effectiveness by 53%? But what is the message you want to get across? This should really be your first consideration when thinking about your display. Are you after new schools? Do you want people to take some action? e.g. purchase summer dresses.

Painting and finishing

It may seem obvious but it’s critical that your window is well kept. Ensure that it is regularly painted and cleaned, removing all cobwebs, unless it’s Halloween of course. The general trend is for the window to start white and then add colour to help create the various themes and stories. Colour is very important, did you know that colour accounts for 60% of the initial impression? The trick however is to make it changeable. A studded, plasterboard wall as a backdrop can be painted red to really catch the attention, and very easily converted back to white.