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How to Become a J.C. Penney Catalog Model

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J.C. Penney models are diverse in age, body type, race and gender. To launch your modeling career, research J.C. Penney branding. Then decide on your likely market, and work through a reputable agency to land a contract that could change your life.


The J.C. Penney website and newspaper ads showcase a variety of models, including babies, children, active seniors, young adults and more. Body shapes and sizes range from thin to plus-size, while ethnicity is diverse. J.C. Penney includes special needs and differently abled people in their advertisements, and strives to create branding that relates to the average American. Models showcase achievable style, glowing faces and inviting smiles. Hairstyles vary by gender and age, though young women are typically shown with long hair. Plus-size models appear to wear sizes 14 to 18 and traditionally sized models are also on the smaller end of their size charts.

Find Your Niche

Within the diversity of J.C. Penney models, find your niche in the proper age, gender and body type category. Prepare a portfolio of professional photographs that are consistent with the department store's branding of that niche. Arrange for professionally done hair and makeup, as well as more than one photographer. Include head shots and full body shots that showcase various expressions and poses in basic, clean-cut clothing that shows your body shape. If you intend to model lingerie, swimwear or outdoor gear, include photos that reflect that in your portfolio, as well.

Partner With an Agency

J.C. Penney partners with well respected modeling agencies in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. While the modeling industry is known for poor pay and high talent expenses, J.C. Penney works with many Screen Actor's Guild endorsed agencies such as Wilhelmina, the Campbell Agency and Elite Model Management. When you submit your portfolio to one of these reputable agencies, you are likely to receive fair pay and solid contracts with known companies, including J.C. Penney.

Submit your portfolio to multiple agencies, but understand that it often takes many submission attempts and several months or years to find an agent willing to work with you. Be flexible in submission methods, because some agencies want portfolios submitted online only, while others expect you to interview at their office in person with your portfolio in hand. Build relationships with agency contacts during the application process, and consider any advice regarding how to better appeal to J.C. Penney and other prospective clients.

Land a Job

Your modeling agency goes to bat for you and your modeling career as soon as they sign you. Communicate your desire to land a modeling job with J.C. Penney, but also understand that the agency may book you with other clients, as well. It is wise to continue to build your portfolio and resume by working with a variety of clients, because it builds professional reputation that appeals to large clients like J.C. Penney.

Fit Models

Fit models are important to the clothing design and manufacturing process. They work with designers who need to see their clothing on a real person's body before it hits the clothing racks. Fit models change in and out of clothes in crowded rooms, and they stand still for extended periods of time so that prototypes and patterns can be properly altered to perfection. Fit modeling jobs are a good way to get your foot in the door with a company, including J.C. Penney, as well as to build a reputation that could lead to other work. If you are willing to do fit modeling work, inform your agency of your desires, and they will work with you or refer you to an additional association or agency that deals specifically with fit models.


Anne Kinsey is an entrepreneur and business pioneer, who has ranked in the top 1% of the direct sales industry, growing a large team and earning the title of Senior Team Manager during her time with Jamberry. She is the nonprofit founder and executive director of Love Powered Life, as well as a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach and freelance writer who has written for publications like Working Mother, the San Francisco Chronicle, Bizfluent, the Houston Chronicle and Our Everyday Life. Anne works from her home office in rural North Carolina, where she resides with her husband and three children.

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