When most people think of modeling, they think of high fashion magazines and runway shows. But there are many kinds of models.
I’ve done just about all of it, but I spent the bulk of my career as a fit model.
What is a fit model?
Here’s what Wikipedia says:
A fitting model (sometimes fit model) is a person who is used by a fashion designer or clothing manufacturer to check the fit, drape and visual appearance of a design on a ‘real’ human being, effectively acting as a live mannequin.
This is a technically accurate definition, but it fails to account for the myriad of fun and challenges that goes into the day in the life of a fit model.
I used to start my workdays at 5am in military fatigues driving my car downtown for boot camp with a group of type-A wall streeters to sweat and stay fit. With music blasting and singing at the top of my lungs, I’d be psyched to work out by the time I pulled into my parking spot outside the gym.
Everywhere I went, everyone was wearing clothes I had fit and I was always working… at the gym, at a charity event, everywhere people wore clothes!
Even when I wasn’t actually in a fitting, which was almost 24/7, I’d be asking women questions about the clothes they were wearing that I had fit. I would shop the brands I fit as well as the competition, measure all the clothes, take photos of myself and others wearing the garments and give clients digital and written reports of how to improve the garments we fit. All the women at boot camp wore Gap Body undergarments and they were major consumers with excellent feedback (which made a great start to the day.)
After class, I’d re-organize my backpack for the day.
The staples in my daily New York City fit model backpack were:
*PDA, headset, extra cell phone, notebook
*approximately 6 different types of bras
*5 different styles of underwear
*Shoes: ballet flats, flip-flops, kitten heels & stiletto heels
*Makeup, hairbrush, comb, clear nail polish, manicure kit, tampons, hair ties and clips
*voucher books (model time sheets)
*composite cards & business cards
*safety pins, double stick tape, baby wipes, tissues, disposable plastic bag
*paperwork, pen, pencil, small stapler, scissors
*wallet with multiple metro cards
*fitted tank tops and leggings
*water bottle, meals and snacks
*always a few surprise items
Once I left the house, I probably would not be back home again until midnight-ish, so I always had to have everything I could possibly need for any situation in my backpack. By 7or 8am I would be at my first fit modeling job of the day.
When modeling, everyone always asked me how I maintained my toned figure and my response was always… I ran here and I’ll run to my next appointment & run to next and the next after that until that night, and I’d carry a very heavy bag.
I’d run by lots of interesting people every day, but never had time to chat or stop.
On one particular day, running in the garment center, I was moving quite fast but was abruptly forced to stop by several men on W36th Street as I approached a red light.
Each one was handing me a bra or a pair of underwear and yelling fire! Apparently the zipper of my backpack unzipped with the motion of the bouncy run and my undergarments were strewn all over 7th Avenue.
Luigi handed me a demi-bra as Joe was twirling my thong around his finger. I quickly gathered all I could before the light changed, but as if the personal contents weren’t embarrassing enough, I literally was on fire too!
I had a pack of matches from a restaurant in my bag that sparked from the friction of the movement and created smoke and fire in the pocket. Luckily, I had plenty of assistance and even rain overhead to douse the flames. (I made it to my appointment on time.)
During the course of the day I’d have all manner of clients and wardrobe mishaps. Once a client cut my bra off and sliced my underwear with scissors in the butt crack area when cutting jeans I was wearing.
Another time, I came home late from a fitting and noticed horrible, dark bruises all over my back. For hours, I thought I was injured or had blood clots until I finally figured out that I had worn a garment with a huge “SAMPLE” ink stamp inside the clothes that had rubbed off on me.
Once, while running to a client in the rain, I jumped into a taxi and completely split the back of my pants but I had to keep moving and get to the next job on time. With my backpack around my butt, I ran into a seamstress who could fix it and had another pair of pants to hand me. I changed behind a tree in the lobby. Clients said they set their watches by me so I could not be late.
Staying the same size wasn’t always easy. I took a colon cleanser to slim down one day and went to the bathroom so many times in a row, I got too skinny and had to pig out while running to my next fitting to get my waist back to spec in minutes. With fit modeling, it’s not about being skinny, it’s about being the same size all the time!
Life as a fit model always offered new and exciting adventures. So what does it take to be a fit model?
To be your most marketable self, being a renaissance woman definitely increases your chances of being selected by clients for fit modeling job. In addition to looking beautiful, a model needs to do her homework and bring knowledge and valuable comments to fittings. Prima donnas need not apply.
Natural optimists, multi-taskers with lots of endurance and resilient egos are best suited for fit modeling, provided she’s blessed with the proportional, standard figure and can maintain that body, ALWAYS.
A smile is a must with designer wardrobes. Clients enjoy interesting, honest, organized people and there should be a solid person with a good heart underneath the fashionable garb. Excellent communication skills, the ability to read and uplift people’s spirits, flexibility and patience are key!