Turning 30 used to be the kiss of death for professional models, but the modern push for inclusivity has kept the door open for senior models. Here, we’ll break down how to become a mature model, including finding the right fashion agent for seniors and special considerations for older people.
A senior model is anyone doing modeling work who is 50 years and older. Beauty brands and advertisers have embraced the growing demand for individuals to see themselves in campaigns, widening the modeling landscape beyond thin, young bodies. As people live longer, mature models reflect an older generation with purchasing power and vitality who the industry can no longer ignore.
What jobs are available to senior models?
Senior modeling is being embraced throughout the industry. While there may be more jobs available to senior models in certain formats, as a whole there are many opportunities to step into the spotlight.
- Print: Newspapers, magazines, billboards, and brochures have widened their casting net to include mature models. It’s now become the norm to see older faces beaming over brands such as Target or the Gap.
- Commercials: TV ads used to pigeonhole mature models and actors into spots focused on age-related products, such as prescription medications and life insurance. But today, lifestyle and luxury brands such as Marc Jacobs and Estée Lauder are seeking senior models to showcase the universality of their products.
- Runway: While senior models are not as commonly featured on the runway, supermodels such as Elle Macpherson (age 59) and Naomi Campbell (age 53) continue to rock couture at the hottest fashion shows, paving the way for older women and men to take the stage.
The more brands that take notice of older generations’ spending power, the more jobs will become available to senior models. Consumers like to see themselves reflected on the sites and stores where they shop, increasing the potential for mature modeling.
So how does one become a senior model? Follow these steps:
Create a portfolio: A modeling portfolio is the key to landing an agent and booking jobs. You’ll need 20 high-quality photos that showcase your look from a variety of angles, including close-ups and full-profile shots. Mature models will also want a portfolio that:
- Shows off your grays: No need to cover your roots here. Let your salt-and-pepper hair shine.
- Highlights your natural skin: Wrinkles and age spots are welcome here, so be sure to celebrate your laugh lines.
- Is confident: Brands want to spotlight seniors who are living their best lives. Your portfolio is an opportunity to highlight your self-love.
Start making a name for yourself: Social media is a great way to dip your toe in the senior modeling water. Instagram is an ideal tool for sharing your look with a wider audience, whether you’re posting staged photos or fun candids. Having a robust feed can be a great place to point potential agents or clients—and it can even put you on the radar of hiring brands.
Apply to modeling agencies: Once you’ve built up a good selection of photos, you can start looking for an agent. An agent can help build and support your career by offering guidance and connecting you to paid gigs.
Modeling agencies for seniors
There are various modeling agencies for older women and men looking to break into the industry. Many of the top modeling agencies seek to represent talent in the “mature” niche. Some agencies exclusively represent senior models while others have opened their doors to this promising market.
- Go Models: Representing an international book of talent, Go Models “50Plus” category connects clients to mature models.
- Agence Silver: Launched in 2012, this agency only signs talent over the age of 40, proudly declaring that “beauty has no age.”
- Models1: This agency’s “Classic” category exclusively features women from older generations.
- Grey Model Agency: Grey’s homepage greets you with a senior model striking a pose and emphasizes the “powerful, older 50+ generation.”
While industry standards are shifting, aspiring senior models still need to be diligent in their pursuit of representation. Taking care of yourself is important at any age, and senior male and female models must stay on top of standards for their niche.
Unique considerations for senior models
- Stay active: While rigid body standards are starting to ease, maintaining a healthy weight is still important for senior models. Agencies will ask for your height and weight when applying, and these details will be included in your portfolio.
- Take care of your skin and teeth: There’s no need to hide your wrinkles when it comes to mature modeling, but your skin must exude a healthy glow. Sunscreen and proper moisturizing is key, as well as regular dental care for confident smiles.
- Industry perception: Unfortunately, not every casting agent has warmed up to the 50-plus trend. Models at every age are subjected to harsh criticisms of their appearance, meaning your entire body will be up for critique. Be secure in your look to protect yourself against insensitive comments.
Does location matter for senior models?
Many of the top modeling agencies are located in New York City, Los Angeles, or Paris. Does that mean you need to pack and move to become a model? Yes and no. Depending on your goals, being near a major modeling hub has its pros and cons.
Big-city pros: Metropolitan areas will have more agencies to choose from and more high-fashion events such as New York Fashion Week. Bigger cities are also home to larger, more established agencies, which can result in working with couture or name-brand labels.
Big-city cons: Making a name for yourself in highly competitive areas such as LA or London will make it harder for you to get your foot in the door.
Small-city pros: Living outside major cities makes you a bigger fish in a smaller pond. You may be one of the few senior models represented at your local agency, which can put you at the top of the list when opportunity calls.
Small-city cons: The variety of work will be far less in more remote areas. You’re unlikely to walk runways or don designer goods outside of fashion hubs.
Sam Aronov/DFree/Ovidiu Hrubaru/Shutterstock
Looking for inspiration on how to become a mature model? In addition to supermodels such as Cindy Crawford and Tyra Banks, who’ve continued to chart successful modeling careers past age 30, here are some of the most successful senior models working today.
- Carmen Dell’Orefice: Known as the industry’s oldest working model, Dell’Orefice, age 92, has graced runways and magazine covers since she started at age 15. Beauty has no expiration date.
- Beverly Johnson: As the first Black model to appear on the cover of Vogue, Johnson has continued to break modeling barriers, enjoying a successful modeling career at age 70.
- Jacky O’Shaughnessy: This icon was discovered at 60 by an American Apparel rep who snagged her for their Fall/Winter 2012 campaign. O’Shaughnessy has since modeled for a wide selection of top brands while promoting body positivity.
- Iman: Model, philanthropist, and businesswoman Iman has been one of the industry’s most influential models for five decades, inspiring young models and designers.