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What To Wear To Pilates: Your Definitive Guide

You did it. You booked your first Pilates class. The excitement is real, but the questions about what to wear feel even more real. Tank or tee? Leggings or shorts? Which Pilates socks to wear?

Stop, and breathe. Firstly, because 'breath' is one of six Pilates principles, and secondly, we're here to break down exactly what to wear for Pilates.

We'll cover the 'do' and the 'definitely do not' when it comes to pilates fashion, including a personal faux-pas of a tee so oversized the teacher could have comfortably climbed in it with me. Note: retrieving your outfit from over your head and away from equipment is both distracting and dangerous.

To avoid rookie wardrobe malfunctions on the mat, we've compiled our top recommendations for what to wear to Pilates. Read on to learn how to enter the studio perfectly prepped from top to toe.

What To Consider When Choosing A Pilates Outfit

As pilates requires fluid movements and deep stretches, a full range of motion is vital. Therefore, choose clothes that fit well but are not too tight that they restrict your mobility. While loose clothes may feel comfortable when you are lounging on the couch, they can get in the way during your Pilates workout and make it difficult for the instructor to see your form.

Look for breathable, sweat-wicking activewear, as there is a good chance you'll catch yourself sweating in those challenging core moves. And don't forget your feet, as you’ll need to make sure your steps are firm, in a way that keeps you stable and grounded on the mat and the reformer's machine.

What To Wear To Pilates - Quick Overview

Ready to say hello to your new best friend, the Pilates mat or reformer? Here's an overview of what to wear to look your best in the first of many 'Hundreds' exercises. Grab those grip socks, ladies…

    • Comfortable Top - Not too tight, not too loose. For optimum in-class concentration, avoid too-tight restrictions or too-loose snags.
    • Leggings or shorts - Choose comfortable and secure Pilates leggings or shorts for complete control in your workouts.
    • Sports Bra - Your sports bra should be supportive but help you move with optimum precision.
    • Hair-tie - Moving hair from your face only distracts the mind from where it should be: your centre, so tie those locks up.
    • Grip socks - Pilates socks are essential for class. A good pair of grip socks will help you find your flow in a stable, safe, and stylish way.

Comfortable & Breathable Tops

yoga and pilates breathable top

Fitted sports tops are comfortable, breathable and offer maximum mobility for all Pilates exercises

A comfortable and breathable top for Pilates is a must. Whatever you pick: tank top, t-shirt, or long-sleeve, the most important thing is to find the right fit - literally.

An overly tight top can hold you back by restricting movement. Meanwhile, too "roomy" styles can catch on the equipment and compromise safety, especially in a reformer class. You'll also want a top without any knots or ties, as lumps or bumps will seriously affect your comfort in reclined and prone poses.

Taking this into consideration, find balance with a comfortable yet form-fitting Pilates top. This style of fit will allow your teacher to support you and help your progress by easily spotting any incorrect alignment or helpful modifications you might need.

Lastly, Pilates classes are low-impact, but be prepared to sweat, especially when you start out. A top with sweat-wicking, odour-reducing properties is best. Like Pilates itself, your top should enhance your range of motion and maximise control of your movement.

  • Opt for - Lightweight and breathable fabric, form-fitting tank tops, sweat-wicking technology.
  • Avoid - Baggy t-shirts, tightly woven material, tops with knots, ties, or tassels.

Sports Bras

pilates practitioner wearing sports bra

Sports bras offer much-needed support as you hold challenging pilates poses and take quick transitions.

A comfortable and supportive sports bra is essential for Pilates class. As a low-impact exercise, low to mid-level support is ideal. It will securely hold you in place while allowing the fabulously flowy movement we aim for in class.

Some bras have adjustable straps to maximise fit on different body shapes, and we also recommend styles with multi-way stretch. Trust us, a bit of extra give helps when it comes to tackling a juicy Spine Stretch Forward.

Tank tops with built-in bra support are also popular in the studio. An excellent choice for reducing workout wear and enhancing that 'second skin' feeling, these bra-top hybrids keep you suitably supported and focused on your routine.

  • Opt for - Mid-level support, adjustable straps, bra-top hybrids.
  • Avoid - Standard bras, going braless, a too-tight fit.

Pants: Leggings or shorts?

blue pilates or yoga leggins

High-quality leggings with a seamless design and snug fit will help you improve your form and enjoy full range of motion in Pilates class.

Pilates pants should be comfortable and well-fitting. High-quality leggings with multi-way stretch and a waistline that is not too high or low will keep you securely in place throughout your routine - meaning no annoying pauses for pulling up pants.

We recommend investing in a premium pair of Pilates leggings that feel like a buttery-soft second skin, allowing you to move beautifully throughout your practice. Avoid zips, tassels, or wide trouser legs as they can damage or get caught in the equipment. Overly tight, super low-waisted, or styles with lumpy seams will be uncomfortable, especially in exercises carried out lying flat.

Shorts are another great choice. With less material, they free you up for even more movement. Be wary of baggy styles or gaping leg holes, however, as they may ride up to reveal more than you bargained for.

Form-hugging and compressive styles are best for leggings and shorts alike. Whatever pants you pick, breathability and lightweight support should always be a top priority.

  • Opt for - Multi-way stretch, soft fabric, seamless design.
  • Avoid - Extra high or extra low waistbands, wide-leg styles, baggy shorts.

Hair ties

'I've forgotten a hair tie!' is a commonly heard phrase in the Pilates studio, with forgotten Pilates socks coming a very close second! Don't let the excitement about your upcoming class distract from the essentials because hair in your face is the last thing you want in your session.

Pack a snag-free hair tie, and earn brownie points for packing one for a forgetful friend. Best pop some extra grip socks in your bag, too! On the subject of Pilates socks…

  • Opt for - Simple snag-free design, 2mm or more thickness, more than one!
  • Avoid - Less than 2mm thickness, hair ties with hard beads, elastic bands.

Grip Socks

Grip socks provide much more stability than bare feet or regular socks with their safety-first design and non-slip grippy dot soles. They prevent you from slipping both on the mat and the reformer machine, significantly increasing your comfort and performance.

Investing in high-quality socks like Just Flow's Ankle Grip Sock promises supreme traction, exceptional comfort, and top performance from class one. With Pilates socks on your feet, there'll be no slacking in challenging moves like those Wunda Chair leg presses.

Just Flow's quality Pilates socks' high-quality cotton blend makes them more breathable and moisture-wicking than regular socks, improving foot hygiene and keeping you dry and comfy.

Boost airflow with a five-toe design to add more movement to the mix, meaning you'll really feel the wrap of those toes on the foot bar. Furthermore, as our toe socks encourage activation and full use of your foot muscles, you'll strengthen your feet to stave off injury, muscle imbalance, or tendon issues.

Our Pilates socks come in a range of colourful designs and styles. For a classic 'goes with everything look,' check out our ESSENCE Ankle Grip Socks, or if colour-pops are your thing, our pretty pink Ballet Grip Socks are the ones for you. As the final piece of the Pilates-wear puzzle, grip socks are vital to get you off on the right foot to feel safe, stable, and strong in your classes.

  • Opt for - PVC grippy soles, cushioned heels, breathable cotton blend.
  • Avoid - low-quality fabric, non-stretch design, standard socks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Have To Wear Tight Clothes To Pilates?

As full range of motion is crucial in Pilates you should not wear clothes that feel too tight or restrict movement. Slim or form-fitting tops and leggings with multi-way stretch are best, especially those made from breathable fabric.

What Should You Not Wear To Pilates?

Avoid wearing loose, baggy clothing in your pilates class, as this can obscure your view, get caught on the reformer machine, and prevent the instructor from observing your form. Ensure your clothing is not too tight either, as this will make it hard to move freely and with ease.

Do You Do Pilates With Or Without Shoes?

You do not wear shoes for Pilates workouts. It is usually done barefoot, but many practitioners prefer to wear grip socks. Pilates socks are specially designed to provide traction on the mat or reformer machine, helping you find balance and stability. Wearing grip socks is also a more hygienic alternative to going barefoot.

Do You Need A Sports Bra For Pilates?

Although Pilates is a low-impact exercise, wearing a sports bra rather than a standard one is still advisable. Aside from giving more comfort, sports bras support you in those fluid and quick transitions and keep everything firmly in place during long plank holds. Opt for a low-impact sports bra with adjustable straps and multi-way stretch.

Do You Need Special Socks For Pilates?

Pilates calls for high stability and balance as you transition from one pose to another and move into deep stretches. Therefore, Pilates socks with PVC grippy dots on the soles are an essential part of any Pilates outfit. Grip socks provide high traction to keep you firmly in place without hindering your balance or range of motion.

Final Thoughts

Comfort, support, and quality are the essentials for any Pilates outfit. Breathable tops, soft leggings, and grippy Pilates socks will have you feeling suitably set for a session. But of course, your outfit is only a small component of your Pilates journey. The real magic lies in learning, getting strong, and having fun doing so. So now you know what to wear, go hit that studio in style!

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