What Skills Do You Need to Be a Fashion Model?
1 Comment • Uncategorized • By Melissa
It may be true that modelling requires a certain amount of natural good looks and a spot of luck, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain skills that can be learned to give you a better chance of success.
Let’s take a look at the type of skills you need in order to do well as a fashion model.
Requirements for Modelling
There is a small set of criteria required to be considered for modelling, particularly in high fashion modelling. These include the following:
Your height is probably the most important deciding factor. Nearly all agencies will want models who are over 5’7″. If you are any shorter, you could apply for petite modelling, but you will struggle to find work in commercial and high fashion modelling.
Most models need to have a proportional body type. That generally means having a bust and hip ratio that is fairly similar, with a smaller waist. It’s most important that you look proportional. Remember that a fashion model’s job is to make clothing and other items look good, and a proportional frame helps with this.
Most modelling agencies also require their models to be a UK clothing size 8. Anything over is considered plus-size modelling, and you would have to find and apply for agencies that work with plus-size models.
It’s a bonus if you have even, white teeth. It’s not a requirement that your teeth are perfect (Georgia May Jagger is an excellent example of a model with “imperfect” teeth whose look has actually benefitted her career), but it’s important you have good oral hygiene and that teeth are healthy and clean. Take regular visits to the dentist and make sure you look after them.
A good modelling agency will make sure their models are healthy. Modelling can be physically demanding, not least because it can typically require models to have a low body fat percentage. Eating disorders are rife in the world of fashion, and many top agencies have policies in place to regularly check in with their signed models to ensure they are healthy.
What Skills Do Modelling Agencies Look For?
Modelling agencies look for specific qualities when searching for models to sign onto their books. There are no set skills required for modelling, but there are certain skills that can give you an edge over the competition.
Here are some of the things you can focus on if you’re serious about a career in modelling:
The ability to work well with others
To do well in modelling, you’ll need to be a people person. Models have to work with strangers regularly and your personality will also be taken into consideration when applying for jobs.
Can you listen and take direction with little effort? You’ll have to know how to follow directions, especially when under pressure. From photographers and directors to agents and
To be a good model, you’ll need to be flexible and open to change. You won’t know what one week to the next will look like; unless you have an ongoing contract, work can be unpredictable. You will also need to be open to a lot of travelling, not just for work but so that you can attend casting calls.
You don’t need to be an athlete – but it certainly won’t hurt if you’re physically fit. They’re not looking for huge muscles (unless you’re applying to be a fitness model), nor are they looking for you to be able to run marathons. But they are looking for you to have good control of your body, including coordination and grace of movement. They will also be looking for someone with good stamina, someone who can stand on their feet for hours at a time and look completely at ease even when holding painful or difficult poses. You can have these skills naturally, but doing exercises like barre and pilates will also help to strengthen and lengthen limbs without putting on too much muscle bulk.
Models must have endless patience.
Patience can be learned, with the right instruction. It’s worth looking into some calming techniques, as well as finding out what distracts you personally – whether that’s books, listening to music or working on your laptop.
Models are often put into stressful or time-sensitive situations, and they need to know how to keep calm (and more importantly, look calm) even when they don’t feel it. Breathing techniques such as meditation can help with this, and therapy can be an excellent help for those who struggle with intense feelings of anxiety or stress.
Are you an organised person? Models don’t have a regular 9 to 5. The location, time and even type of work can change from day to day. As a model, you’ll need to keep track of all this and more. While your agency will help to an extent, it’s ultimately your responsibility to ensure nothing important slips the net.
If you struggle to be organised, there are many great self-help books out there that can help you build useful habits to keep you on track. Making lists also helps; perhaps use your phone to keep track of any appointments, and set reminders ahead of time. Studies show that writing things down also helps us to remember them, but don’t rely on memory alone when technology can take the pressure off.
Working well under pressure
When there are conflicting schedules and so many appointments to keep you feeling like you can’t catch 2 minutes to yourself, do you crumble? In reality, this is not dissimilar to the life of a model. You need to keep a level head and work well under pressure, with the ability to organise your time and workload efficiently from week to week.
This comes easier to some than others. Practice helps and you will get better at this over time, but avoid mistakes now by keeping a diary, setting yourself reminders and learning how to effectively manage stress when things get overwhelming. As a model, you may not be able to schedule in as many rest days as you need. You’ll need to find a way of destressing and unwinding in small increments of time; perhaps getting a facial at a salon, or working out at the gym for an hour. Find out what works for you when you’re feeling at your best – you don’t want to become overwhelmed, and then struggle to find out what works to calm you down… you won’t have the time!
You will also want to make a list of the most important self-care things you know you need to regularly keep on top of in order to function properly. Things like sleep, nutrition and exercise should all be at the top of the list.
Do you listen well to instructions? Can you follow them easily, even with little to no information? A model must be able to concentrate and take in what is happening around him/her. You will need to pay attention and listen to what is requested. Each client and brand will want something specific, and it’s your responsibility to listen carefully and concentrate in order to deliver the required work.
Fitness & endurance
As a model, you will need a certain level of cardio fitness and strength in order to perform at the required level. Not only will you be expected to work long hours, but you will also need the strength to hold difficult poses, wear heavy accessories, and stand in uncomfortable shoes for hours at a time. Standing still might not seem like a challenge, but it’s far more difficult than it might first appear. All models regularly work out not only to stay trim and lean but to stay in shape so they are strong and capable at work.
Hair & make-up
While it isn’t essential that you are a pro at hair and make-up, it certainly helps for you to understand the basics. Knowing what make-up will work best on your skin and will emphasise your features, and understanding how to look after your hair and keep it shiny, thick and healthy, will help you land jobs. Having a basic understanding of how your skin functions and how skincare works will also help you to keep your skin clear and help to defend it against external factors that can cause premature ageing.
Models don’t just look pretty – many are very clever. As a model, it will really help for you to understand the following:
- Nutrition and fitness
- Business – including how contracts work, how the modelling industry works etc.
- The world of fashion, including up-and-coming brands, photographers and their styles, what is currently in style etc.
- Popular culture, including who is in the limelight currently and why
- Which publications are relevant to you, who their editors are etc.
Be sure to keep abreast of current news stories, as well as social media trends ad other relevant information. It’s worthwhile investing in your knowledge, as many models retire before the age of 30 and go into other areas of work. Don’t rely solely on your looks.