The Art of Window Dressing

| Monday, December 20th, 2010 | No Comments »

The focal point of a shop, no matter how large or small, is its windows. This is the face that the shop portrays to the outside world, this is where you reveal your identity – the very essence that makes your shop unique. It is the first thing that shoppers notice and just like a book cover, your shop will be judged upon it, so getting it right is key.

Whilst many shops will employ a professional window dresser, they do come at a price so many prefer to go it alone. It is possible to create a dynamic and exciting window display by yourself as long as you remember to follow a few key pointers.


It is essential that your shop has a theme, such as a boutique style or olde worlde sweet shoppe and no matter what time of year it is, you must not detract too much from this central theme that ideally will run through the whole of your shop. Your theme will also form part of your unique selling point so it’s something you will have decided upon very early on in setting up your business.

Less is More

There is nothing worse than seeing a cluttered window display. If you have too much going on at once then nothing stands out, there is nothing to catch the shopper’s eye. This example of a charity shop window tells you everything that you should avoid. There is no theme, no real clues as to what kind of shop it is and no central focal point. Keep it simple. It’s far better to have just one large, bright object than lots of small ones fighting for space.

Bright Lights

Good window lighting should focus on the objects being displayed rather than pointing outwards towards the shopper. A single spotlight can be effective in displaying just one object whereas accentuated lighting can help with a theme, such as reds for brazen and bold statements and soft lighting for a more muted tone.

Stack it up

Use boxes and steps to create stacks or pyramids so that your display isn’t just all on one level but different eye levels so that the shopper’s interest is held for longer and the overall display is more attractive and interesting.

Background or not?

Shops in large shopping centres tend to have open-back windows that allow the customer to see right into the store. It is essential to keep these window displays simple and follow the theme you have through the rest of the shop. High street shops are more likely to have closed windows – these can be very effective as you can really make the most of your display and have themed background displays for special times such as Christmas, Easter and Halloween. If you don’t have a closed window you can add a large curtain in a neutral colour that will look striking to the casual passer-by.

Be Creative!

No really, let your imagination run wild! Some of the most successful window displays have been surreal pieces of artwork that have drawn the customer in and provided a topic for discussion. There is nothing worse that all your hard work going generally unnoticed by the shopper, so make sure that it provides a talking point, even if that talking point is a little controversial. Remember, it’s better to be talked about than not at all. This simple display by Harvey Nicholls shows just how effective a window display can be.


Use your best products and make sure you show them off to their full advantage. A shoe shop could have a beach theme and have different shoes arranged on a sandy beach with a sea backdrop and shells, buckets and spades as props. Put your merchandise in a situation where people can imagine them being used.

Still need help?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if your creative skills leave a lot to be desired. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a professional window dresser, just approach your local college or university and ask if any of their designers would do it for you. They come at half the price and are more than happy to notch up some experience for their portfolio.

You may not get it right the first time, but keep trying. View your window from all angles to see how effective it is and don’t be afraid to ask customers what they think, after all the more opinions you get the more you learn about what works and what doesn’t.

Have you any window dressing tips to share? Leave us your comments about what has worked for you and what you consider to be the most important factors when creating an effective shop window display.

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