How to Become a Fashion Model - A Guide to Success

Gurpreet Singh - Author Gurpreet Singh on May 30, 2019

Want to know how to become a model? Do you dream of being the next Gigi Hadid, gracing the cover of Vogue? Modeling as a career has become a much-vaunted choice now with thousands of aspirants chasing the dream of becoming the next supermodel. Those days are over when you could depend on your luck to get spotted, the chances of that happening are one-in-a-million now. To become a model, it takes discipline, effort, and perseverance. You need to plan, prepare, and follow a strategy to stand out and get noticed. We have spoken to several successful models and agencies and put together a list of tips below that you must follow to break into the modeling industry and kickstart your modeling career. So here's how to get started in modeling:

To know how to get into modeling, first, you should know which type of modeling suits you. 

Top modeling categories:

Runway Modeling: Runway models take part in runway shows and have to change clothes and makeup regularly. Runway or Ramp is a platform where the models showcase the clothes and fashion accessories during a fashion show by walking on it. A runway model is hired depending upon the experience he/she has.

Plus Size Models: Those individuals whose measurements are larger than editorial fashion models can be categorized into plus-size models. They involve in advertisements of plus size clothing, cosmetics, fashion accessories, etc. Plus size models are increasingly taking part in fashion editorials and becoming part of the fashion industry. More designers are considering making clothes for the plus size market.

Fitness Model: A fitness model has a well-defined body with toned muscles. These models have less fat, and they weigh more as they have more muscles. Magazine advertisements often use these fitness models; however, some of them also work as fitness trainers, and some take part in fitness related competitions as well.

Glamour Models: Glamour models agencies don't have strict requirements concerning the model's body, and it depends on place to place what preferences they keep. Broadly it focuses on the sexual appeal of a person, and these models can be seen in calendars, men's magazines, lingerie modeling, and music videos.  

Alternative models: Those unconventional models who fall into having different physical features, and who prefer doing punk, goth, and fetish shoots are alternative models.

Parts Model: Parts model are employed based on a particular body part. I can be hands, legs, chest, lips, etc. Although the demand is mostly for attractive parts, there is also a demand for un-attractive parts as well. Some agencies solely represent models who are hired for their body parts.

Promotional model: A physically attractive model whose aim is to attract customers to a product or service by directly interacting with them is a promotional model. They provide live experience to the consumers by giving information about the product. They can be seen in trade shows, events, shopping malls, clubs, and other public places.

You cannot get into every type of modeling there is, you have to follow certain steps to know how to be a model. They are:

Develop your skills

Study and understand posing. Practice runway walking. What separates a pretty model from another model is going to be their posing ability and their walk. Modeling is an art. Whether it's binge-watching season upon season of America's Next Top Model, scanning the pages of Vogue, watching YouTube tutorials, reading modeling ebooks like glamour shots photography or finding a favorite model. Posing and walking on a runway is very awkward at first. Practice. Here is a modeling tip for you: Have a friend shoot photos of you to get comfortable with posing, both in front of a camera and another person. Or start smaller and put a camera on a tripod and practice by yourself until your confidence grows before you start your journey to become a fashion model.

Practice posing in front of the camera

The next step to know how to start modeling is to practice in front of the camera. The supermodels you see in gorgeous magazine photos did not just sit in front of a camera and get lucky when the photographer took a picture of them. They worked WITH the photographer to create a masterpiece. Both equally skilled in their respective trade, a model will use her posing, facial expressions, and artistic intuition to help create the photographer's vision. Having the right posing skills is an essential requirement for becoming a model. The photographer will use his knowledge of lighting, aperture, framing, etc. to bring everything to life on his end. It is a choreographed dance, and you need to hone your skills the best way you can. If you can't pose and don't feel confident in front of a camera, it will be 20 times harder to get a great shot. Work on becoming the best model you can be!


Get a killer modeling portfolio

One of the most critical steps to become a model and to make a stable career is to have a well-rounded modeling portfolio that showcases your strong points through high-quality, stunning images. One of the first requirements from a model that agencies and clients will look at to make a great first impression is the modeling portfolio. It helps to have both an online version (your modeling portfolio website) that you can send to anyone via an email and a printed version that you can show when you meet someone face to face. You need all the exposure you can get to move up the ladder in the modeling industry.


Recommended reading: Here’s a detailed step by step guide on how to go about creating your killer modeling portfolio.

Find the right modeling agency

Every fashion model needs a modeling agency. The first step to getting signed by a modeling agency is getting seen by a top modeling agency in your area. Getting seen requires a very simple submission: snapshots of yourself. These snapshots are commonly referred to as 'digitals' in the industry (or occasionally 'polaroids.')


Modeling agencies are looking for the most simple and natural photos possible so that they can see you for YOU. Submit snapshots of you wearing little to no makeup: a light sweep of foundation and mascara at the most. Do not style your hair (but do make sure it is clean), and include photos of your hair down, and also of your hair up, pulled away from your face. The background needs to be plain and not distracting (standing against a plain wall works best). Take the photos using natural light; a friend can easily play photographer for you. Your digitals should include the following images: smiling (with teeth, without), non-smiling, up-close headshot(s), left and right side profiles, and a full-length shot (both facing the camera and turned away from the camera). Your outfit should consist of a t-shirt (solid color) and jeans. Your submission to a modeling agency should NOT include the following: Selfies, Photoshopped photos, blurry/unclear/zoomed-out images, etc. Don't get a fake tan, don't wear false eyelashes, don't do any crazy contouring with makeup (to 'cheat' and give the illusion of being makeup free and possessing killer cheekbones and a tiny nose naturally). Don't overthink it: simple and natural is the first impression modeling agencies are looking for.

Do your research about the modeling agency you sign up with

Before submitting to every modeling agency on earth and seeing if anything sticks, do your research. Make a list. First, and most importantly, is this agency legit? Can their business be easily verified, and do they have any bad reviews? Is this modeling agency currently accepting models with your look and stats? What is the modeling agency's submission process (specific guidelines vary by agency, but you should be able to find this info on their website)? Who are the agency's past and present models? What are the modeling agency's most recent campaigns? Are they working with established brands and companies? Do you WANT to have this agency represent you, meaning you will be representing them in turn? Once you find the modeling agencies that you feel confident to be a good fit for you, submit digitals to your top picks. After you submit your digitals if you receive a call to meet with an agency in- person, do even more research prior to the meeting. Brush up on prominent fashion designers, who the 'it' supermodels are at the moment, current events from the fashion/beauty/modeling world, etc. You don't need to be a walking "fashion model encyclopedia" by any means- be aware and informed.

Learn to embrace rejection

Mentally prepare yourself for rejection- a lot of it. You MUST be able to handle having doors shut in your face without a second thought. Even the most stunning supermodels to ever walk the planet were told "NO." They were told "NO" multiple times, many ways, by countless people. Rejection is part of the territory. The sooner you not only understand but accept that, the better off you will be. Don't base your self-worth on appearance or anybody else's approval of you. Start practicing now: challenge yourself to shrug off any criticism you receive this week. See if it was easy or difficult. The harder it was, the more you need to grow a tougher skin. Are you offended that you were just told to grow tougher skin? If so, that's precisely the point! Start practicing the ability to let all criticism roll off your back! But don't worry, everybody is capable of learning this skill with enough practice. A good mental mantra to keep in mind when it comes to rejection is: "Every 'NO' is just one 'NO' closer to a 'YES.'"

Make yourself constantly look better

Take care of your skin, hair, body, and health. Like it or not, modeling is an aesthetically-driven industry, and beauty/appearance is undeniably essential. (That being said, you can still make it as a commercial model regardless of physical beauty or body type.) However, for fashion models, the height/weight standards are more rigid and inflexible than with any other genre in modeling. There's not much you can do about genetics, but it IS up to you to make the most of the genetics you were given.


To become a model, you must adhere to your thorough beauty regimen. Many supermodels use the following habits as part of their beauty routine, including but not limited to the following: drinking water like a fish throughout the day to stay hydrated and keep skin supple, not smoking, and, keeping alcohol to a minimum. Other habits include exfoliating/washing/moisturizing face every morning and evening, wearing SPF, never going to sleep in their makeup, regular manicures, and hair appointments, taking a multivitamin, working out 4-5 days per week, maintaining a strict diet/meal plan, among many more. Looking and feeling your best will only benefit you no matter how you look at it – professionally or personally. It is a win-win. But in this case, having your beauty habits nailed down is absolutely a career advantage for any aspiring fashion model. A model who takes care of her appearance is much more of an asset than a lazy one with poor hygiene and no motivation to look her best.

If you do not fit the current fashion model requirements (height/weight), there are many other genres in the modeling industry that you can pursue instead. Please read this article on the types of modeling to learn which genres you may be a good fit for.

Be safe

As a fashion model, you're vulnerable, especially when you're starting up. So have your guard up and be safe. My most important tip for aspiring fashion models: Don't fall for phony modeling schools (you DO NOT need to pay money to attend any modeling school or training, period). You shouldn't have to pay for any photos to get started. Your agency should be the one taking care of setting up test shoots. There are many other scams out there: modeling contests, unscrupulous "modeling agents" or "casting directors" or "photographers," fake casting calls which promise thousands of dollars in compensation and a photo shoot in another country, etc. Have a sound support system in place. The modeling industry can be an overwhelming place, and it can be easy to fall prey to many other dangers (party scene, eating disorders, etc.). Keep your friends and family informed of what is happening in your career. They can be a sounding board if anything sounds fishy or unusual. They can drive you to a photo shoot and wait for you outside. They can keep you encouraged when you face rejection or a rough patch. Stay safe and have a support system!

Be Professional

Getting into modeling is not an easy task. You have to be a professional through and through. Answer phone calls. Return voicemails and emails promptly. There is no excuse to be 30 minutes late to a meeting, casting call, photo shoot. If anything, you should always be 15 minutes EARLY. This takes planning and time management skills. Aspiring models make a big mistake when they adopt the mentality of: "Well, I'm pretty enough to be a model, so I will just skate by with my looks alone and minimal effort." Many up-and-coming models of the past never worked another day in their life in the modeling industry after their unprofessionalism, lousy attitude, and reputation began to overshadow their beauty. Nobody wants to work with a diva. There are plenty of other beautiful girls in the world who WON'T be snotty or rude.


When you book a job, you are representing both yourself and your agency. When you are on set, treat EVERYONE with respect. If your makeup artist was given a specific directive, which she followed, but you hate the way she did your makeup… well, that's too bad. She did her job, so now do yours. Produce some killer photos, regardless of your makeup preference, and without saying mean things about the makeup artist to others. Respect and courtesy will take you a LONG way in your modeling career!

Commit to work

Modeling may seem easy and glamorous, but that is by no means the reality. It will take a lot of commitment on your part to become a model. Are you prepared to maintain a diet, fitness, and beauty regimen, even when you are having a dry spell and not booking any work? Are you willing to do a 12-hr photo shoot in freezing and windy conditions, while wearing a wardrobe that offers no warmth, while still getting the shot and not complaining? Have you accepted that it may take years once signed to a modeling agency to garner success (if ever) while your agency develops you as a model? Are you willing to travel internationally on long trips, and be away from your significant other, family, friends, and the comforts of home for an extended period? Are you willing to work a completely unglamorous side-job when the bookings are slow? If your agency wants you to try a dramatic hairstyle change, are you flexible and open to it? These commitments are not meant to scare you by any means – modeling CAN be fun, rewarding, exciting, and glamorous. Just make sure you are aware of the possibilities on both sides, good and bad, and you are ready to commit no matter what!

Build your social media following

If you are an aspiring fashion model, it is likely that you are seeking modeling agency representation. As mentioned before, submit your digitals, practice posing and walking, develop a beauty regimen, etc. while you wait for responses from modeling agencies. In the meantime, build up your social media following. It may help get you signed to an agency, believe it or not! Building a following on social media is a very new phenomenon. These days, modeling agencies will take a model's online audience into consideration when weighing whether to sign them or not.


Advertisers use models all the time, but more and more so they want to use models who already have a built-in audience to promote to. A large social media following is not a requirement to be a fashion model, but it is an important attribute. This trend does not show any signs of slowing at current. So jump on board as soon as you can. Be wise in your social media strategy and message. Know what you stand for, show your followers your authentic self, engage with them regularly, and post great photos! You can even take it a step further and start a blog, a YouTube channel, etc. Many non-intending influencers have turned into professionals models on account of their large following.

Never let your pride down

Till now, you have seen most of the steps on how to become a model, but not letting your pride down is not less important. No matter what you are still a valuable person with feelings, thoughts, and opinions. You are so much more than just a pretty face. Most fashion models accept the jobs they are booked by their agency, which is fine and quite standard. But if anything ever crosses the line or makes you feel uncomfortable, you need to learn to speak up and voice your opinion before it's too late. While we just mentioned commitment being a vital attribute, there is a fine line. You should never become SO dedicated to your career that it becomes more important than yourself and your own needs. What do you stand for? Make it known from the start, and stick to it unwaveringly. The less you worry about approval and acceptance, the better off you will be. Know when to put your foot down, and always have your own back. After all, if you don't have your own back, who else will?

These modeling tips must have helped you understand how to become a model. We hope it would be useful for aspiring fashion models like you!

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Best of luck on your modeling journey!

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