Plus-Size Modeling Tips

First Time on the Runway? Learn to Walk the Runway and Make It Memorable with These Tips

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Whomever you ask, the catwalk takes a lifetime to master. It may look like plain walking, but just so you know, models and pageant contestants are actually continuously trained to walk the runway. The catwalk requires good posture, balance, and technique—all of which take time to develop. So when it comes to making an impression on the catwalk, practice makes perfect! Read on for a guide on channeling your inner goddess as you walk the runway.

Walk the Runway Perfectly Even on Your First Show

Walk the runway

Watch shows or videos.

For many girls, to walk the runway is a childhood dream. If you’ve spent considerable free time watching fashion shows by yourself, don’t stop. Aside from learning trends and big names in the industry, you’ll also find that no two shows are exactly the same. Even each model has their own walk and style. If, however, you’re trying to figure out your own sense of runway style, don’t be pressured to master everything you’ve seen in the videos. Things will vary from show to show in terms of what you’ll be wearing, where you’ll be walking, how many marks you’ll have to hit, and many other factors. So take it one show at a time and you’ll learn to adjust accordingly, if needed.

Test-drive your shoes.

While the women on the runway make it look easy, strutting your stuff in 4-inch heels isn’t. Your feet will need some getting used to for them to cooperate. So there’s no better way to get accustomed to wearing those pumps than actually walking in them before the big day. Camilla Morton, author of How to Walk in High Heels and A Year in High Heels, says, “Get a cart and go for a spin. As you stock up on groceries, use the cart for balance while your feet get used to the new high heels.”

Straighten up.

Think tall. Model and runway regular Ali Stephens says, “Make sure when you take a step you straighten and extend your leg—it’ll help you move gracefully and elegantly.” While walking, stand up straight, leaning slightly back so your legs can go first. Keep your toes pointed forward so they aren’t turned out. Then walk with one foot in front of the other as if walking on a tightrope.

Let the loud music be your uplifting motivation.

Get into a rhythm! When a natural bounce to the beat happens, add to it by thinking about holding your head high and keeping your shoulders back. Concentrate on the attitude that you want to project, and sustain that look for as long as you can while walking. If you can put a rhythm and attitude in your step, your walk will come to life and exude a fantastic supermodel energy. When you are on the catwalk, imagine the music that puts you in your groove and follow that groove.

Capture the essence of the clothes you’re wearing with your facial expression.

When it comes to making a good supermodel facial expression, the emphasis in the face is on the eyes and eyebrows. Focus on an object straight ahead of you, and try to smize (smile with you eyes). This will give a fierce look to your face and to your walk. Keep your chin level and your eyes up—you want the spectators to see your face. When you make your turn at the end, make sure that your face is the last thing to turn away from the audience.

Your confidence should shine outward.

There is absolutely no substitute for knowing you look amazing in a pair of stilettos. Author Camilla Morton reminds us, “When you wear high heels, you look good and you feel good!” You have to feel good and make it work. Don’t let the fear of stumbling keep you from owning these shoes. Think of yourself as a model in attitude and presence. Know you’re beautiful. Self-doubt and low self-esteem can be damaging. There’s nothing prettier than a girl with solid confidence.

Unwritten Rules for First Timers

Maintain a clean and healthy face and body.

Pay extra attention to your hygiene. Your skin and your fitness should be in top shape when you’re about to walk the runway. If you break out easily under stress, make sure to carefully cleanse and tone without completely stripping away moisture. Here are unwritten rules to keep in mind on the day of the show:

  • Unless told otherwise, arrive to the venue without makeup on and with your hair a little dirty (to make for easy styling) and without a ton of product in it. This will make the hair and makeup team’s job easier and to keep them in a good mood.
  • Do not wear heavily scented body lotion, perfume, deodorant, cologne or body spray. These scents can stain and/or linger on the fabric afterwards, which tends to be a huge pet peeve for designers.
  • An industry insider tip for not sweating onto an outfit is to wear tissue under your arms to absorb the sweat while you’re waiting to go walk the runway. Simply take them out and toss them when it’s your turn and it’ll minimize any chance of pit stains happening.
  • Skip body oils and lotions containing body glitter. Again, it will get on the clothes and the designer will not be happy. You can wear lotion (who wants dry skin?), but make sure it’s either lightly scented or nonscented and nongreasy.

Bring your own stuff.

It may not be a term coined by a professional, but a modeling bag is pretty much what you call the pack a model always has with them when going to modeling gigs even if they know a full team is going to be there to take care of hair and makeup. You don’t need to announce to the hair and makeup team beforehand that you’ll bring your own stuff; just bring your bag for every single gig you go to. Most shows have more models than stylists backstage. In worst-case scenarios, you get dressed late all because you were stuck waiting for your turn to be styled and made up. Always be prepared for anything. Bringing your own modeling bag also relieves you of the thought of having to borrow other people’s things all the time.

If you’re wondering what goes inside a modeling bag, check this article out.

Arrive early.

Brainwash yourself with this mantra: early is on time, and on time is late. Do whatever it takes to arrive early once you know the time and address of where you need to be. How early? Depends on how long it takes you to get yourself together. I personally prefer to get to my shows 30 minutes to 1 hour early. If your first instinct is, “Dang, that’s so early!” then you clearly don’t grasp why being that early is totally not a big deal for me.

I’d rather be that early so I can take my time finding parking, checking any last minute emails/texts so that I can put my phone away once I get inside, as well as mentally prep for the event. Going in cool, calm, and collected will always make for a better modeling experience compared to being late or even on time but feeling rushed and panicked.

Another perk of being early? You get first dibs on getting hair and makeup done!

Don’t be a snowflake backstage.

You are one of many models because that’s how a fashion show works. It’s supposed to be a team effort, and if the production is organized properly, you should have already gone to your fitting in advance and been assigned the outfits you’re supposed to wear. Models are supposed to do what they’re supposed to. When everyone looks uniform, it makes the overall show run smoothly. Do not break protocol. Do not decide to do something different like posing at the end of the runway for too long because you’re loving the spotlight and the attention. You’ll throw off the pace for the other models and get backstage to some pretty angry people.

Things may also not work out sometimes, and it’s not uncommon for models to not have their outfits show up at a show or even have one or more of their assigned clothes given to another model to wear. Do NOT make a scene. Do not even think of ranting on Twitter. Everyone else is under pressure the way it is if this is happening. Do not make things worse. Think ahead, move on, and look forward to the next runway.

A Final Word

Your first runway show is not gonna be perfect! But that’s okay. We all start somewhere. The best thing you can do is go into your first show with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and go home knowing that you did well and reflecting on things you want to improve on. Practicing your walk does not end there either. The more you know your body and your walk, the more confident you’ll be in your next shows.

Good luck!

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