6 Skills and Traits That Will Help You Succeed as a Fit Model

A fit model taking an arms up pose in a denim jacket to allow the designer to see the garment's movement.

 Matheus Ferraro / Unsplash

Before garments hit the stores, they have to go through a rigorous design process that takes the garment from a simple concept to a finished product. At the heart of the process is the fit model who allows a designer to basically test drives clothing for a market.

Acting as a live mannequin, fit models use their modeling traits and skills to help a company’s design team see how the garment looks and moves on a real, live person. Fit modeling isn’t as glamorous as, say, fashion modeling (you’ll never appear in a photo shoot or a runway show) but many models find it satisfying to work side-by-side with the people who make fashion a reality.

Have a Body With Industry Standard Measurements

First and foremost, all fit models must have well-proportioned bodies that meet industry-standard measurements. For female models, clients usually look for someone 5’4’’ to 5’9’’ with measurements of 34-26-37. For male fit models, clients generally prefer a height of 6’1’’ or 6’2’’ with measurements of 39-34-39.

Please note that these numbers represent the typical dimensions of a fit model. Actual numbers may vary from client to client, as everyone’s needs are different. Plus, there is also a demand for children’s, teen, petite, plus size, and even maternity fit models.

Have a Flexible Schedule

Fit modeling isn’t a nine to five job. Shifts vary from week to week depending on the season and the number of samples that are ready to fit, and you may have to work on an “on-call” basis.

Be Physically and Mentally Strong

You may be asked to stand still for extended periods of time while the designer's pin, cut, pull, and stretch the clothes into perfection, or walk around to give the designers a better idea of how the garment moves. You may even have to pretend to get into a car, dance up a storm, sit at a desk, or pretty much anything that a real customer would do. And because fittings typically last anywhere from three to five hours, you need to be in good physical shape to get the job done right. 

Be Able to Work With an Audience

If you’re the shy type who isn’t comfortable getting dressed (and undressed!) in front of others, then fit modeling might not be the best job for you. Designers and garment technicians will want to see how easily you can get in and out of a garment to spot small technical errors, like a zipper being too short or armholes being too snug to slip into comfortably.

Be Knowledgeable About Fit and Fashion Trends

Fit models aren’t just living mannequins. More than anything, they’re there to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and provide the designers with valuable feedback about the fit, feel, and movement of the garment. Is it comfortable? Is the fabric too scratchy? Can you raise an arm without ripping a seam? Do the shoulders pull? Does it ride up too high (or too low) during everyday activities? These small details can make or break a garment, so you must be an excellent communicator who is comfortable expressing your opinions to the client.

If you don’t have a technical fashion background or any design experience, it’s a good idea to take a few classes to learn the basics. The more you know about what goes into making a garment, the better feedback you’ll be able to give. And that, of course, means you’ll be hired and rehired time and time again.

Have the Right Connections

As with all types of modeling, the more exposure you have, the better chance you’ll have of making it in the industry. By submitting your photos to a reputable model scouting agency, you’ll be seen by the world’s top modeling agencies. It’s a safe, legitimate, and affordable way to make the connections you need to kickstart your fit modeling career.