As a model, your “Model Bag” is a vital part of being prepared. Being prepared for the unexpected often shows the difference between an amateur model and a professional model. Modeling agencies and clients want to work with models who take their careers seriously, and one way you can show them that you do just that is to always be prepared.
When it comes to packing your model bag for a runway show, some specifics of what you may need will vary from show to show, but there are some things you will want to make sure you always have on hand. Be sure to check with your agent or the designer in the days leading up to the show to see if there are any specific items they want you to bring that you might not otherwise pack.
For shows I tend to pack less than I do for a photoshoot, so I usually go for a weekender/duffel bag that can hold everything I may need for the day but is small enough to easily carry around and fit under a chair to be out of the way. For shoots, I usually prefer to use a medium to large-sized luggage-style bag that has wheels over a duffel since it’s bigger and much heavier.
Whichever style you prefer, make sure the bag is durable, looks professional, is easy to use, and can hold a LOT of stuff!
Shoes: For a runway show, your shoes are probably the most important item(s) in your bag. There is also the chance that your look could be changed last minute, so it’s always better to have options. If I don’t know what I’m wearing, I like to reach out to the designer in advance to see if I should bring boot styles or more open-toe styles to help me narrow down what shoes to bring.
For feminine models: When you’re unsure of what you’re going to wear to be safe it’s best to have these four pairs of shoes in your bag: a black & nude pump as well as a black & nude strappy heel. These four basic shoes will be able to work with any look you may be put in. If you have already done a fitting and know what you’re going to be wearing, you may only bring the pair that the designer chose for you during your fitting. I highly suggest always bringing two pairs so that you have a backup in case a heel or strap breaks (it's happened to me before!).
For masculine models: If the designers don’t coordinate with you in advance to have you bring what shoes will go with the look, your best bet is to bring a pair of classic black dress shoes, brown dress shoes, and a pair of simple plain white sneakers. These will go with almost anything the designer will have you wear.
Water & Snacks: Make sure to pack plenty of water and something to eat. Most of the time there is no food provided to the models, so it’s always good to have some easy-to-eat snacks in your bag. My go-to is protein bars because they keep me full and aren't messy. If food is provided for you and you know your stomach can be fussy or you have specific dietary requirements, it’s safer to always pack your own food and decline the food that’s provided.
For Women: Nude & black strapless bras, seamless g-strings, and boy-shorts are absolute must-haves in your bag. Go for plain, seamless designs without any branding, lace, or patterns. It’s also good practice to keep ‘Chicken cutlets’ (push-up boosters), stick-on bras, nipple covers, and shapewear (if needed) in your bag as well since regular bras don’t always work with certain garments.
For Men: Fitted boxer briefs in a solid neutral color are usually the safest bet, but it’s also good practice to have regular boxers on hand as well. Avoid bold patterns and colors as they may show under the garments.
For both men and women, do not be surprised if it’s requested that your undergarments be removed entirely to avoid lines under the clothing. If this makes you uncomfortable, please let the designer or stylist know so they can attempt to make accommodations for you.
Makeup Kit & Hair Tools: Most of the time, hair and makeup will be provided so you will just need to show up bare-faced, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared. Even if you are told makeup & hair will be done on-set, I always pack my own makeup kit and some basic hair styling tools in case you need to do it myself- which has happened on more than one occasion.
For Women: Your standard makeup kit, such as foundation, powders, eyeshadows, bronzer, etc. (*Don’t forget false lashes); and basic hair kit, such as curling iron, flatiron, bobby pins, hair ties, hairspray, etc.
For Men: Hair wax, gel, spray, or whatever you use to style your hair. Even if you don’t style your hair in your personal life, it’s good to have these items on hand in case you need to do it for the show. Also, be sure to pack your shaving gear. If your designer wants you clean-shaven, you don't want to end up with a 5 o'clock shadow situation! It is also great practice to have base makeup such as foundation and concealer to cover up any blemishes or undereye circles.
A Changing Scarf: This is something almost always forgotten but is so essential! A small scarf to put over your head when changing so that you don't smudge the makeup, mess up the hair, or stain the garment. I often use a silk purse duster bag because it’s lightweight and doesn’t take up a lot of space in my bag.
‘Emergency’ Kit: This includes all the little things you don’t think about until you suddenly need it, like bandaids, a small sewing kit, safety pins, fashion tape, feminine products, contact case/solution with a pair of backup contacts (if you wear them), pain reliever, stomach reliever, body lotion (unscented & non-greasy!), toothbrush, a razor, & tweezers.
Portable Phone Charger: With all the downtime that comes with being backstage at a show, there’s a good chance you will be spending a lot of time on your phone checking social media & emails, so you want to make sure you have a portable battery with you in case there isn’t access to outlets. Don't be that person that asks to use someone else's phone charger!
Something to Do: Especially at runway shows, there is a lot of ‘hurry up & wait’, so having something to read or work on helps pass the time.
Comp Cards: It’s always good to at least have a few of your comp cards handy. That way when someone important (like a designer, photographer, artist, or news media member) asks for your information, you have something to give them. This also makes you look more professional!
Post-Show Outfit: Think ‘little black dress’ to wear after the show in case you decide to attend a networking or after-party event. Make sure it’s something that doesn’t wrinkle so you don’t have to worry about it being packed in your bag for hours.
I know it seems like a lot, and it can be really annoying to pack all this stuff and not even use a single thing out of your bag, but I promise it's all necessary to have! You never know when you will suddenly need something and look incredibly unprofessional for not having it. Being a professional model means being a prepared one!