Commercial Models & Their Wardrobe Requirements

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We had one of our classic models Katie into the offices recently and we asked her to put together some thoughts on the commercial sector and more importantly Wardrobe!

Katie: One of my least favourite questions nowadays is ‘so what do you do for a living?’ It is certainly not because I’m embarrassed or ashamed by my answer, but it’s more that there is a high chance of this question being asked in the school playground or gym changing room. You know those times when you’re looking far from glamorous and you can visually see people look you up and down and compare you to Gisele Bündchen! Therefore, to save my blushes, more often than not, my generic answer is that I work in marketing!
 
Many people are unaware of the whole side of commercial modelling, so make assumptions based on the fashion modelling that they have seen on the tv and Britain’s Next Top Model!
 
The purpose of a commercial model is to enhance the product, make it come to life, allow it to be seen in its real environment and show the lifestyle of the people ‘around’ the item. We’re not there to be the ‘face’ of a product like a fashion model, we should not overpower what we are there to sell nor should we take attention away from it; and generally, we should represent an aspirational, but attainable, average person. Chances are, that on a daily basis, you will see many commercial models in magazine and street advertising and in television adverts, yet you wouldn’t recognise or be able to name any of them!
 
 
 
The next question I’m often asked is, ‘do you get to keep the clothes?’ To which I generally reply, ‘yes, because they are mine!’ 
 
The fact is that when you’re a commercial model you are expected to provide suitable clothing for your jobs. Once you are confirmed for a role you will be sent a brief giving you details of the wardrobe that you are expected to provide, how they would like your hair styled and, if necessary, what kind of make-up look to create. To be fair, this is generally a nice, natural, day look. Not too heavy!
 
What a client doesn’t want is that your clothing detracts from or gives the wrong impression of the product. Therefore, if a potential customer is more attracted to your clothing, jewellery or make up over the product that you are helping to sell, then the campaign could fail!
 
So let me tell you a story. I started modelling just under two years ago and the first thing that I had to sort was some images for my portfolio. Cue a quick trip to Modelcamp HQ one frosty winter’s morning (unfortunately before their Fuerteventura days). 
 
A couple of days earlier, Lewis had provided me with a list of the kind of thing to bring, so I cobbled a variety of outfits together to take with me. However, it very quickly became apparent that my personal style was not totally aligned with the commercial world as Gary rifled though hangars laden with All Saints leather jackets, trousers and a whole host of black and grey. Needless to say that his stylist skills were put to the test as he struggled to put suitable looks together, declaring that I need to get myself some colourful Primarni!
 
It was a steep and sharp learning curve, but I very quickly realised that what I like to wear in my own time is not going to cut it on a commercial shoot. So much so, that I now have a separate cupboard full of my work clothes that I never open for my personal life, yet they are client approved and that makes for easier packing!  My work wardrobe is like a costume; it helps me to become the character that I am employed to play, be that a friend, mum, wife, tourist, or office worker. 
 

If you’re new to commercial modelling, here are my 7 top tips for putting your work wardrobe together:

1. You may have to potentially lose your personal style when you’re on a job, but you are being employed for your look/face/body so don’t get a strop on! When you’re being employed as a new mum, turning up expecting to wear your leather mini skirt and crop top is just not going to happen, no matter how good you look in it!
 
2. Lots of briefs include ‘no stripes, big patterns and logos’ 
 
3. Put together a selection of the following kind of thing:
 
Women
- smart, darkish jeans
- cream, smart trousers / chinos
- white jeans
- white / grey long sleeved t-shirt
- plain t-shirts of various colours – neutral, pastel and bright
- range of plain knitwear – neutral, pastel and bright
- an office suit (as this is more expensive, I only buy one as needed!)
- a couple of smart summer dresses
- knee(ish) length skirt
- age appropriate gym/sports wear 
- plain coloured one piece swimsuit 
- nude and black underwear, strapless bra
- a trench coat, outdoor jacket, smart coat
- collect some smart and woolly scarves/winter hats
- keep a range of costume jewellery and belts
- black ballet pumps, clean white pumps, beige and black heels
 
Men
Similar to the above, with the obvious exceptions
- a nice suit 
- smart jeans & trousers
- a couple of smart shirts with co-ordinating ties
- polo shirts in different colours
- couple of pairs of casual trousers and/or chinos – navy, beige
- smart shorts and swim shorts 
- T-shirts (white, black, a few colors, no logos) 
- couple of smart jumpers 
- black/ brown smart shoes, casual/boat shoes, trainers (minimal branding)
 
 
Obviously don’t feel that you have to go out and buy all this straight away and bankrupt yourself! See what kind of jobs you get in and build up the most appropriate for your roles!
 
4. Once you know what you need, you don’t need to spend loads on the clothes. Pop to H&M, Matalan and Primark etc.
 
5. Ensure that what you take is clean, ironed and polished, especially if you’re on film as it cannot be retouched later. Even if it’s a photo shoot, no photographer is going to thank you for the extra time they have to spend in post production photoshopping your dirty shoes!
 
6. Don’t forget to remove your jewellery/watch unless asked to wear it.
 
7. Avoid current high fashion items. You are meant to reflect a ‘real, attractive person’ Also, if you’re lucky, the client may want to use the image for again (nice usage/buyout?) but they won’t be able to if your outfit is particularly dateable.
 
So there you have it. You’re all now prepped, primped and perfectly ready for your next job! Those of you who have been doing this a while, what have I missed? What are your must have wardrobe essentials and top tips?
 
Good luck!
Katie xx