A Step-by-Step Guide to Strutting the Runway

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Photo Source: Nata Sha/Shutterstock

Gemma Ward might make walking the runway look easy, but appearing effortless is all part of the skill. The best model struts aren’t just about good posture and being able to walk in a straight line in five-inch heels. It takes practice, precision, and confidence. If you have dreams of becoming a runway model, these simple steps will help you take strides towards standing out at castings and making an impression in shows.

As a runway model, perfecting your walk is key to career-defining success. While your main job is to showcase the garments you’re wearing, the confidence to add personality and flair to your walk will set you apart. Unlike commercial or editorial modelling, the runway involves the added challenge (and excitement) of a live audience. Relaxed precision is the first thing to nail, but don’t forget there’s room for some drama and a sprinkle of creativity.

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7 steps to walking like a model

1. Be relaxed and natural 

Stiffness and tension won’t help you move smoothly or naturally, so start by relaxing your body and getting out of your head. Deep breaths and a couple of spine rolls will help you loosen up. Try to stay relaxed and calm by not overthinking things too much. Follow in the footsteps of supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who says she avoids thinking about the people watching her on the runway as it makes her uncomfortable. Instead, she takes a deep breath, clears her head, and sets off. 

2. Have your game face on

Runway shows are a serious business. Unless you’ve been specifically directed to, steer clear of pulling facial expressions that are too big or could be construed as comical since these could undermine the mood of the show. Keep your demeanour composed and consistent. Practise wearing a neutral expression, but have a few different moods under your hat in case a show or casting director calls for them. Remember, your expression should help set the tone without pulling focus from the looks you’re modelling. 

3. Keep your head up 

It might be tempting to look down at your feet, particularly if you’re watching your step in a pair of killer heels, but keeping your head up, with your gaze fixed ahead, is stronger and more professional. Focus on a point in the distance and tilt your chin down very slightly so you’re not craning. 

4. …and your shoulders back

Pulling your shoulders back creates a similar air of confident professionalism. Draw your shoulders up to your ears a couple of times, then let them drop naturally and easily down into your back. Visualising an imaginary cloak pinned across your collarbone, flowing down your back and trailing along the floor behind you is a helpful trick for opening your chest in a natural, unforced way.

5. Think ‘long and strong’ 

Creating a clean, straight line with your body means clothing can hang elegantly without crumpling, bunching, or creasing. Create length by imagining an invisible piece of string travelling up your spine and stretching towards the ceiling from the crown of your head. It’s a good idea to gently nod your head a couple of times to ensure your neck muscles aren’t tense and your head is balanced naturally and loosely on top of it. Some seasoned catwalk models even lean back slightly as they walk so that more light can hit the garments they’re modelling. To achieve a subtle, natural lean, tighten your core by pulling your belly button towards your spine, and make sure you keep that length so you’re not slouching. 

6. Be smooth and steady  

Sudden, jerky movements never look good on a runway, so it’s important to walk to a steady rhythm without swinging your arms too wildly. Designers almost always play music at their shows. Practise walking to different songs and use the beat to help you set your pace. Take long, even strides, placing one foot in front of the other to maintain the tight line of your body and give your hips a slight swing. Try to avoid breaking the rhythm by halting suddenly at the end of the catwalk. Instead, slow down gradually and keep the same pace as you turn to head back the other way. Focus on a point in the distance as your body twists and let your head be the last thing to turn. Not only will it stop you getting dizzy, but it’s also a strong, powerful movement that’s full of attitude. 

7. Perfect your pose 

Sometimes you’ll be asked to pose at the end of the runway to give the audience the chance to take in your look. Maintain a natural, relaxed movement: rather than standing still, plant your feet and sway your hips loosely to one side then the other, counting to three in your head before turning back. 

8. Study the experts 

If you want a masterclass in model walking, study models whose walks have helped make them famous, like Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Iman, Alton Mason, and Karlie Kloss. What’s consistent across their walks and what are the personal touches? Take notes, try their moves for yourself, and think about putting a personal spin on it. 

Practise wherever you can and don’t be shy. In the words of Coco Chanel, “Life is a fashion show and the world is your runway.”