( Originally Published 1902 )
Simplicity—concentration—force! Such are the show window qualities that attract.
Complexity—over-display—frippery! Such are the show window qualities that distract.
And the difference between attraction and distraction is the difference between gain and loss of trade.
Some natures—essentially vulgar-love over-display and pointless adornment. But intelligent, well-ordered minds love, the strikingly simple—the display or arrangement that gives expression to an idea without loss of force.
The show window is a great factor in swinging retail trade. Its importance is not appreciated to the degree it should..
Yet retailers are giving more and more thought to the question of intelligent window dressing.
In the writer's estimation the keynote of intelligent window dressing is simplicity. A window full of ladies' and children's garments, arranged with the intention of displaying the greatest assortment possible, is not as trade-compelling as a few garments mounted on figures gracefully poised before a large mirror. A windowful of all sorts of house-furnishings does not for a moment begin to compare with the window given solely to a kitchen scene or wash tubs or tinware or something that accentuates the use of a certain line of merchandise.
Speaking about the advance in the art of window dressing, many merchant readers will remember how (in their visits to New York) they used to walk up Broadway and note the helter-skelter arrangement of the windows. In a clothing window would be a few overcoats, a few odd coats, a few suits, a few twenty-five cent ties, a few suspenders and a few other things making a weird contrast and effect, a combination possessing neither weakness nor strength. Yet the window dresser would show the same system (or lack of system as you like it), day after day until the passer-by who gave even little thought to the subject wondered why people showed such poor taste in window dressing.
But today it is another story. Today look in these same windows! When you look you see something! You see back of a window exhibit the idea standing out in bold relief A window may be given to an effective shoe display, and mind you, there will be nothing else in that window but shoes. (This shoe display is to help that shoe ad in the papers yesterday.)
Another window will be given exclusively to a handsome line of overcoats (to emphasize the overcoat ad of two days previous). Mirrors, figures and black velvet effects are skillfully used in displaying the merchandise and the result is.
A clean cut, concrete expression of an idea.
Motion in some form or other is given much study by leading window dressers. During the holiday seasons especially, animated window displays are found in the windows of nearly every important city establishment. The eye is instantly attracted by activity and it takes but a few minutes for a crowd to gather about the window with marionettes or the high kicker or the goggle eyed dummy with the cigar.