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What to Wear to a Pilates Class

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Pilates Class: What to Wear?

You might be worried about what to wear to a Pilates class if you’re a beginner who’s never been before. Focus on your workout by wearing this simple outfit to class:

  • Breathable tank top or t-shirt
  • Full or capris-length leggings
  • Grippy socks (optional)
  • Hair tie

Those are the basics, but let’s look into why leggings are recommended and what to look for when selecting an outfit.

What to wear to a Pilates class

What to wear to a Pilates class


You need clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement but isn’t so baggy that it gets in the way. Also, if you can choose clothing that breathes well, you will really appreciate it as workouts heat up.

Let’s look more into choosing a good pair of leggings and a performance top to ensure you get a killer workout!

Bottoms: Leggings or Shorts

Have you ever wondered why leggings are so prevalent in workouts like yoga and Pilates? It’s not just that they’re comfy, look great, and don’t get in the way, but they also conform well to your skin, so it’s easy to see the alignment of your body. Some yoga poses or Pilates exercises require your legs to be perfectly straight or your hips aligned just so; therefore, that’s easier to do leggings and a tight top than in baggy pants.

I also find that in leggings, I can focus more on which leg muscles are engaged than I could in shorts or loose yoga pants. I also prefer capri-length while in a gym, but if you choose a mesh-style legging, you will be able to dump heat in your most active workouts and not be as bothered by it.

How to Choose Leggings for Pilates

The best leggings for Pilates are the ones that are comfortable and made of fabric that is designed to wick moisture and pull out heat.

For hot workouts, look for leggings that have mesh in key areas instead of solid fabric. Your inner thighs and behind your knees should be vented to dump the heat that is rejected by your body in those areas.

How to Choose Shorts for Pilates

Shorts can be another good option for these exercises as long as they're slim fit. Either compression shorts or narrow running shorts work well. Baggy shorts will slide around when you’re lifting your legs high and make it hard to check alignment.

Tops: Tanks or Tees and a Good Bra

Tank Tops vs. T-Shirts

Strappy tank tops are the most popular tops I see in Pilates. I personally like these because they give my arms a full range of motion. The extra material for even a short-sleeved shirt seems to get bunched and nasty quickly when I’m working out.

Moisture-wicking t-shirts can be a good alternative if you want more coverage.

Sports Bras

Many women can get away with not wearing a bra if the top is thick and supportive enough. Yoga and Pilates tanks are often designed with a built-in shelf bra to provide extra support and coverage.

If you need more support, make sure your shirt fits comfortably over the sports bra you will wear. You don’t need as much support and compression as high-impact exercises like running or aerobics, so just select the bra and top for comfort.

Feet: Bare or Grippy Socks

Pilates mat classes can be done in your bare feet. Reformer classes usually require that you have special Pilates socks. These are normal socks that have extra grip on the bottom.

You can also wear these grippy socks to a mat class. I see grippy socks often in both yoga and mat Pilates for the extra grip and just to keep feet covered. For mat classes, the bare feet vs. socks choice is purely personal.

Hair Accessories

You’ll definitely want to put your hair up for your Pilates class. The workouts are difficult and sweaty; you don’t want to be worrying about it getting in your face.

If you have long hair, bring a ponytail holder. You might also want a soft headband to hold back the strays and absorb some sweat off your face.

Don’t Forget

It’s not just clothes to think about to have a great workout. Other items you might want to bring along to your next class:

  • Payment (some studios only take cash!)
  • Water bottle
  • Pilates mat
  • Bag

© 2020 Katy Medium


Liz Westwood from UK on March 15, 2020:

This is a useful list for anyone planning on joining a pilates class.