Modeling Basics: The Look

Let’s do a little Modeling 101, shall we? Here’s an excerpt from Step 2 of THE MODEL START-UP covering a few modeling basics to consider– even before your first portfolio shoot.  Take a good, long look at your selfies, people. Print clients aren’t looking for perfection, but they are looking for consistent, healthy, and well- maintained models. The word we here a lot in the ad world is “aspirational.” So… to get the job, you have to look the part. If you want to check out the book, which covers everything, it’s on Amazon now.

Okay enough pimping, let’s get to it.

Step 2 Taking Inventory: Your Look

So many girls have emailed me over the years, telling me how they’re so committed to becoming models that they’re undergoing massive transformations. Hard core diets, aggressive med-spa procedures, even plastic surgery to eliminate what they perceive to be their flaws.

This is not the way to go. Fashion models have amazingly long legs and super slim figures— commercial print models are US. We’re the Every Girl. Aspirational? Sure— but we’re not super tall or thin or flawless. We have gapped teeth and crooked noses… it’s called character and it’s awesome! Don’t change who you are because who you are is exactly what a particular client is looking for. One of my fashion model friends calls herself a “professional hanger” which I think is spot on. Fashion models sell fashion— leave that to them. We sell just about everything else.

Okay enough lecture. All of that said— having a polished appearance is important. So here are a few things clients look for when deciding on models for a print job:


Smile: White, basically straight teeth are pretty key to most shoots. The look is happy, friendly, approachable, warm. Now this doesn’t apply to every single job (i.e.: the mid-40’s guy playing a the Regular Joe construction worker) but for most product and relationship shots, clients want to see a healthy smile.

Hair: Like teeth, your hair should be in good shape. Shiny, trimmed, and a universal but flattering shade. No chunky highlights or purple dip dying. It’s a little bit of a drag when you get the urge to do something crazy with your hair and you know you can’t, but it’s the cost of doing business in this industry. I’ve worn my hair in the same basic style for years (dark brown, long, with long bangs) and while every once in a while I’ll do a little ombre or highlights– it’s always subtle enough so as not to prevent me from booking.


Nails: Short, clean, simple manicure. Always, always do a minimal manicure the day before a shoot. Just a simple trim, file, and buff (guys too!) goes a long way, especially if you’re holding a product or your hands are in the shot in any way. Most clients don’t want any kind of fake nails or dark polish in their shoots. At the very most, a natural pink manicure. Hand models go out of their way for hand and nail care. These folks usually have long, elegant fingers, no hand scarring, and lovely nail beds. For the rest of us– just keeping our hands well-maintained is usually enough.

Skin: I’m fanatic about skincare. You name it and I either own it, have tried it, used to do it, or am planning on doing it. There are three key factors in maintaining healthy skin: exfoliate, moisturize, and sunscreen. Do these routinely according to your skin type and you’ll be in fine shape. If you have scarring, pigmentation, or acne issues, see a dermatologist and get professional help. It’s costs more and it’s worth it.

Overall health: Obviously, general good health is super important as a human, but in the modeling world it’s important you look and feel the part. Exercise, take supplements, and eat well to maintain your health, not to drop weight drastically or fit into some character role you’re not cut out to play. Not everyone is, or is supposed to be a size 00.

Poise: This is a big one. Posture, speech, attitude, and overall energy you bring to the set are all so critical to your success on a shoot. Being professional and positive ups your ability to book dramatically.


For the complete, step-by-step plan on getting into modeling the right way, check out THE MODEL START-UP on Amazon. And let me know how you’re doing!

Break a leg!




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