The Do’s and Don’ts of the Runway

Models and pageant contestants typically exude remarkable poise and confidence as they walk across the stage. Their elegant appearance and graceful walks are particularly impressive given the backstage chaos of models running back-and-forth from the stage and into the dressing room.

What’s their secret behind the poise and confidence they exude during their walk? It turns out the critical factors in developing a confident evening gown walk are training and practice.

I have teamed up with pageant and runway coaches from Sashes and Crowns, Tara Darby (Top 10 Finalist Miss USA, Miss Alabama USA 2004) and Cristina Nardozzi-Buehrer (Miss Massachusetts 2005), as we give you tips to get that perfect runway walk.

The Do’s and Don’ts of the Runway

We may see models walk every day, but what they are doing isn’t easy. It actually takes a lot of practice to get that effortless feel. As a general tip, both Cristina and Tara agree that it’s crucial you put your gown on 10-15 times just to practice in it.

But when these fabulous coaches broke it down to technicalities, it really came down to the flowing movements. With Lauren York as the model, Cristina breaks down the Do’s and Don’ts of the Runway so that your body will move in perfect unison.


Whether you are walking the runway or pageant stage, knowing your mark is the first obstacle to overcome. That is why Tara urges every girl to just get up and walk: “Practice in the largest mirror that you can find. Stand 10-20 feet away and just walk.” I say take it a step further, the world is your runway. Try practicing your walk outside. It takes lots and lots of practice to make your actions appear effortless to a spectating world. 


When it comes down to arms, it’s a whole other problem. “We call it ‘purse arms’ and we warn every girl against it,” says Cristina. The idea is to NOT have one stiff arm, while the other is lose. Every joint moving freely as if they were suspended in water.

Fingers & Hands

It sounds cliche, but “pretty hands and pretty feet.” While walking in your evening gown, your four fingers should be together with your thumb touching your pointer finger. As Cristina says, “No bear claws ladies. We aren’t attacking anyone here.”


Your first instinct is to lower  your head to look down at the judges and fans. Instead, keep your shoulders back and head held high. Your chin should be slightly dropped while making eye contact with the judges at all times.


We get it. You’ve seen the fierce face look on America’s Next Top Model. But in reality, not smiling will hurt your scores. As Tara suggests, “A friendly, beautiful smile always wins over a fierce, mean look. Plus, if you look so worried about what you are doing it’ll show in your face.”


Beauty isn’t about having a pretty face it comes from having a pretty heart, spirit and mind.  Always remember you are the only you and you are absolutely gorgeous!

To celebrate my birthday, I’ve launched the first ever Mac Duggal Model Instagram Contest. Girls from ages 16 and up can post a video of their best runway walk with the Hashtag #macduggalmodel to win a trip to Chicago where the winner will walk in my most exclusive fashion show event.

Best of luck to all of you!


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