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How to Become an Over-50 Catalog Model

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Many designers and fashion magazines target over-50 consumers by featuring models who look like them. The right appearance coupled with a knack for posing can help you launch a career as a catalog model. Like everything in the modeling industry, though, your success will be a product of luck and perserverance as much as appearance and skill.

Get the Right Look

Models aren't just pretty. They must meet the specific appearance requirements that the industry demands. Every catalog and modeling agency sets its own standards, but in general you must be tall and slender, with little excess body fat. A face that has aged well, with minimal wrinkles and sagging, is also helpful. A symmetrical face, well-defined bone structure and an extremely photogenic appearance are also must-haves.

Find an Agent

Models don't typically apply directly to companies that publish catalogs. Instead, you must have an agent who can help you land gigs, advise you of casting calls for models over 50 and serve as a career advocate. To get an agent, you need quality headshots that showcase your versatility as a model. Hire a fashion photographer or someone who regularly works with aspiring models. She'll be able to help you select the right poses and outfits. Then send your headshots to agencies that are looking for over-50 models. If you meet an agency's appearance requirements, you may land an agent. You'll have the most luck targeting agencies that regularly work with models in your age range.

Build Your Portfolio

Your agent will probably start you off with smaller jobs to help you build your portfolio. High-circulation catalogs typically seek models with lots of experience, so your first few months in the business will be dedicated to creating a portfolio of images. You may go to casting calls and interviews, and will typically be met with lots of rejection. By persisting, however, you can steadily build a strong portfolio and, if you're lucky, a recognizable brand.

Build a Reputation

There are many more models than jobs, so establish a good reputation early on. Showing up on time, staying in shape and maintaining your appearance are vital to success. Network within your industry by getting to know photographers, establishing friendships with other models and gaining the respect of your agency. This will help you become the first person called for new job openings.


Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

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