Modeling after 50? Why not?!

by Tracy Whiteside
Retired and bored? Self-employed and looking to supplement your income? Maybe just have a little fun? You don’t need to be supermodel material to make money at modeling.

Advertisers recognize that people cannot relate to a size 2, 5’10” supermodel selling arthritis medicine.

Most mature men and women don’t even consider starting a modeling career at this age. Many assume they missed the boat while they raised families and pursued other careers. The over-50 category has less competition than other areas of modeling, and the opportunities will continue to grow.

Modeling often pays very well. I know one 50+ model that worked half a day on a photo shoot for a feminine product and made $3,500. Models can earn anywhere from $500 to $5,000 per day. Not bad.

Models over 50 can be seen in TV commercials, print ads, catalogs, hair shows, stock photography and runway shows as well as appearing as Spokesmodels.

Most people fall into the Commercial Print category. Also called Character, Real People or Lifestyle, Commercial models can be any age, any height and any size. The acceptable range of looks include wholesome to quirky to overweight and bald.

When you see an ad depicting a doctor, teacher, real estate broker, etc. these are Commercial Print models. Companies that use Commercial models sell cleaning products, pharmaceuticals, food and other items that people use on an everyday basis. These companies use models rather than people off the street for their level of professionalism. Commercial models can also be seen on product literature, corporate brochures and just about every type of advertising that does not involve fashion.

Like fine wine, Classic fashion models are “women of a certain age”. Also known as Sophisticate, the requirements are similar to that of younger fashion models, but somewhat less restrictive. These women are typically size 2 to 8, and 5’6” to 5’11”. Classic models are attractive and fit with nice skin and teeth, and range from pretty to sophisticated. More Magazine, J. Jill and Chico’s use Classic models.

Male Fashion models are 5' 11" - 6' 2" and wear a size 40 Regular to 42 Long suit. Men should be toned and well proportioned. Overly muscular builds do not properly fit the clothing. Clear skin and good teeth are required. There is a wide variety of acceptable looks. A man's fashion modeling career often lasts longer than a woman’s.

Living in the New York area is ideal since most of the modeling work is done in Manhattan. While you can find some jobs on your own, being represented by a modeling agency makes life infinitely easier. Wilhelmina, Ford, Gilla Roos and Cunningham Escott Slevin & Doherty are some of the top New York agencies that represent talent over 50.

If you are interested in modeling, submit a note to the agencies stating you are looking for representation. Your note should contain your name, city and state of residence, cell phone number, height, clothing size and shoe size. Also include one close up photo of your face (smiling) and one full body shot showing your shape (in a swimsuit, leotard or well fitting clothing). Write your name and phone number on the back of each photo. Most commercial print agencies prefer that you already have professional photos, although don’t spend a lot of money on photos to start. Many New York photographers will arrange a shoot for $99. If you don’t want to spend that much, ask a friend or family member to take a few photos. Send a SASE if you want your photos returned.

Be proud of your maturity. Don’t try to look too young, and never feel like you need to dress like a teenager. Mature models can do the same type of modeling as their younger counterparts.

Absolutely fabulous.

Tracy Whiteside is a freelance writer living in the Chicago area. She is currently a licensed talent agent and former owner of an award-winning modeling and talent agency. Tracy has trained Elite, Wilhelmina and Ford models as well as Miss Preteen New Jersey 2005 and Mrs. New Jersey 2005. Her agency’s clients included MTV, Nickelodeon, Ogilvy and Mather Advertising and Court TV. She has worked in the entertainment industry and the fashion business for over 25 years. After graduating from Ray Vogue College of Design in Chicago, she began her fashion career at Saks Fifth Avenue and was employed for 12 years at Spiegel catalog. She can be reached at For more information on modeling, acting and singing, go to

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