Full length mirrors: The full story, top to bottom

Full length mirrors are truly wondrous things. The ancients didn't have them; the best they had was polished metal that they could barely see their faces in unless the lighting was just right. Even centuries later, the best thing they had was a hand-held mirror, until the advent of the full length mirror. This phenomenal idea was just a simple transition from bust height mirrors, but the impact it had on life as we know it completely changed the face of bedrooms and bathrooms the world over. Now people could look at their shoes and their hair. While this may not seem groundbreaking in any traditional sense, what it did for the human self-image can never be put into words.

The three avatars of full-length mirrors

Full length mirrors aren't all peas of a single pod. There are at least 3 distinct types, each carrying their own bag of goodies for the human eye. Hanging mirrors are probably the most popular today, and are almost standard fixtures in any home. There are also leaning mirrors that provide a different feel. And finally, there are standing mirrors – versatile versions of full-length mirrors. With the different types available, it might be a little hard to choose the right one. Here's a run-down on all three types, and their variations, to help you decide what looks like you.

Hang 'em low, pardner!

Hanging full-length mirrors are easily available in any mirror shop. But for the frame, they're only a rectangle of silvered glass with eyelets that allow them be attached to a wall, giving you a head to toe view of yourself. However, not many people can imagine not having one at home, and might wonder what they did before these were invented. The versatility of these mirrors allows them to be used in a variety of ways – as dressing room mirrors, as bathroom mirrors, as home gym mirrors and even in the foyer for guests to check their hair and clothes when they come in after braving the elements. With that many uses, it wouldn't be surprising if they were the best-sellers of the mirror world. You can find frameless, full-length hanging mirrors that cost a fraction of their framed bretheren. Depending on the material, you might spend anywhere from two to ten times as much for a framed mirror. The advantages of framless, full-length hanging mirrors extends to the possibility of hanging them on any type of wall - whether it be concrete or gypsum. Frames will often double or triple the weight of the mirror, limiting the number of places it can safely be hung.

Lean and clean

Leaning full-length mirrors are even cleaner by design – no eyelets required. All you need is a wall to lean them on, and you're all set to go. Being even more versatile than hanging mirrors, they can be moved around to accommodate any redecorating plans you might have from time to time. As an added bonus, you don't have to punch any holes in your wall to "install" a leaning mirror. That's something that hanging mirrors can't really compete with. There's an even better aspect to leaning mirrors – angling. With the right kind of lean, you can achieve some amazing space enhancement effects, just as you can with this next category of mirrors – the standing kind.

Don't just stand there – do something!

Standing mirrors are a class of their own – portable, adjustable and adorable: all the things you could want in a full length mirror, and more. The very design speaks volumes about the usage possibilities. Typically mounted on a floor bracket that allows them to be swiveled and locked at the desired angle, these stylish creations are coveted by top interior designers as stylish additions to private quarters. While they are the most expensive of the three varieties (for you can't have a frameless standing mirror), they also have the most wow factor.

Bits and pieces of mirror

Full length mirrors have the advantage of being able to create space from nothing – well, from proportionate amounts of space actually, but visually doubling the available space is an equally stunning feat. The angling feature of leaning and standing mirrors can even seem to increase the height of the room. The right placement can make all the difference between a den and Eden; letting the light and the greenery in is an inherent part of good interior design. Besides accomplishing the near-impossible, these mirrors also enhance the stylishness of a room – beveled edges, ornate frames and other features add immense value to a plain mirror in a subtle or bold way, whichever you prefer. With all these things going for them, can anyone honestly deny that full-length mirrors are truly wondrous things?

I Want Some of That! Where Can I Get Some?

Full length mirrors are rather ubiquitus items, and can be found in most department stores and supermarkets. Sears, Target, WalMart, and Ikea will almost certainly have a number on display. Online retailers such as Amazon and NexTag are also great places to do some comparison shopping.

Ikea has a full length hanging wall mirror 67 by 10 inches for $20. Weighing only 10 pounds, this wall mirror can be hung on concrete, wood, and gypsum wall materials and you can choose the appropriate set of fasteners (screws, plugs or mooring screws) when you make your purchase. This is an extremely affordable mirror, made so by it's lack of frame, which is usually the most expensive part.

No matter where you choose to do your shopping, you can expect to save the most by buying a cheap framless mirror. Frames are significantly more expensive, as are stands - so if you are looking for a free standing full length mirror, expect the price to rise accordingly. On NexTag, a freestanding mirror with similar dimensions to the Ikea mirror costs $115, to give you some idea of the drastic difference in price.