What to Wear to Pilates? [Wear Less Enjoy More]

What to Wear to Pilates
What to Wear to Pilates

Various forms of exercise and sports require different clothes that will enable you to practice comfortably and safely.

Pilates is mostly done indoors in a studio and that makes your clothes selection easier. But, you still need to choose carefully.

So, what to wear to Pilates? Comfortable clothes made from materials that are used for sports clothing. Clothes shouldn’t have a negative influence on your range of motion. In addition to that, you can use no-slip Pilates socks.

Not all Pilates classes are the same, and your clothes should slightly vary, depending on are you practicing on a reformer or going to hot Pilates classes.

In addition to all that, there are some other items you should have with you, and I will mention those too.

If you want to know more about Pilates clothes, summer and winter variations, and what are the best brands, read the following chapters.

What to Wear to Pilates Class?

Let’s talk about what to wear to Pilates, and then I will mention the possible variations.

As this exercise focuses a lot on slow and controlled motion as well as the flexibility, your clothes must be comfortable and enable full range of motion. Also, the clothes must enable your instructor to observe your movement and correct you if necessary.

Keep in mind that some exercises involve all kinds of inversions where you will have to keep your legs upwards, so your clothes shouldn’t slide.

Fabrics should be breathable, light, and comfortable. Well equipped sports stores have Pilates and Yoga clothes designed to fulfil all these requirements.

Tight, but not uncomfortably tight, clothes are excellent. Leggings are great for several reasons. You can choose various soft and pleasant materials, they will not slip, you will have a full range of motion, and your instructor will always be able to see the exact position for your legs. Avoid baggy bottoms.

Slim fitting shirts with short sleeves or without sleaves are also a good option for the same reasons as leggings.

Avoid any cloths from hard materials, too thick fabrics, or baggy shirts that will slide and roll while doing certain inverted poses.

What to Wear to Pilates Reformer Class?

When talking about what to wear to Pilates reformer it is more important to say what not to wear. Wear the same clothes I mentioned to wear on a Pilates class, but due to the fact it is a machine with moving parts, you should avoid any loose items that could get stuck in it.

Avoid any kind of belts or shirts that tie behind your back. You should also avoid zippers and buttons of all kinds. Not only these are uncomfortable, but they can also cause damage on the machines.

I would also advise you not to wear any bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and similar decorative items. Some clients like to wear sports watches that monitor their activity, but that can also be uncomfortable.

Keep your hair tied, but avoid large buns or high ponytails as those will be uncomfortable when laying on your back. Low ponytail or a braid will do the job. All of this also goes for any kind of Pilates, but is specially important for reformer.

What to Wear to Pilates - Reformer
What to Wear to Pilates – Reformer

What to Wear to Hot Pilates?

Hot Pilates is done in an environment where temperatures are higher than normal, and the goal is to sweat a lot. Although sweating will not “melt” the fat, it has numerous benefits and many people like to practice hot Pilates, or even Yoga.

Clothes worn here should fit the same as the one for regular Pilates, but make sure that you choose fast drying materials which are developed for sports where you will sweat a lot. Those fabrics are light even when wet.

Also, some clients wear shorts or tops but that is a mistake. Sweat will end up on a mat and you could slip. Besides, it is not very hygienic, no matter how well the mat is cleaned afterwards. Slaveless top and capri leggings are fine.

When it comes to materials, avoid cotton. Although soft and nice, it absorbs sweat, it gets heavy, and that will cause a lot of discomfort.

Do You Wear Shoes for Pilates?

I wrote about clothes, but do you wear shoes for Pilates?

The answer is NO. First of all, you will never stand on a floor. Mats or machines will make sure that it is comfortable to stand.

Secondly, shoelaces could be potentially dangerous, especially while practicing on machines. Pilates is a low impact activity, and your feet must have full range of motion. Besides, the instructor has to see your feet alignment at all times to make sure that you are doing the exercises right.

You can either be barefoot (although that is often forbidden except if you are using your own mat) or you can wear socks.

Some will wear “Pilates shoes” which are basically regular socks with rubbery parts on the bottom to prevent slipping. These are great, and I would recommend Pilates socks to everyone, especially beginners who may be struggling with some poses and exercises.

What to Wear to Pilates in Summer vs. Winter?

What to wear to Pilates in summer and how is it different from winter clothes?

Well, most of the studios are heated in winter and cooled down in summer, so you don’t have to worry a lot about some extreme temperatures.

In summer, you can wear the same clothes as you would wear for hot Pilates, especially if you live in extremely hot regions of the world.

In winter, you should be comfortably warm, but keep in mind that when you start exercising, you will warm up, and having too many layers of clothes will make you feel too warm.

Wear long leggings, shirt with short sleeves, and a comfortable but not baggy sweatshirt on top of that. You can keep it on throughout the practice or remove it if necessary. Also, make sure to put it on in the end of the class to stay warm.

Also, in winter, make sure that your ankles are covered, so use socks that cover them. Warmth is important for your muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

What Should a Man vs. Female Wear to Pilates?

Male and female clothing may look different, but it has to fulfil the same purpose and have all of the qualities I mentioned before.

So, what additional or different items you may need as a female or male, besides those already mentioned?

I always advise people to ask for recommendations from their instructors, but many will search for info online. What to wear for Pilates female and what to wear for Pilates male are questions frequently asked online, so I will answer them.

For ladies, sports bra is mandatory. Regular bras are not recommended as they do not provide adequate support. They will move, straps will slide down, and in some poses you will feel very uncomfortable. If you are new in the world of sport bras, you may have noticed that different levels of support exist. Pilates is a low impact exercise, so avoid bras made for running and similar sports. Those are extremely tight and can be very uncomfortable. Choose models for low impact exercises with less support.

Gentleman practicing Pilates will sometimes avoid wearing leggings because they do not feel comfortable in them, so if you are one of them, opt for a tight-fitting sweatpants and a tight fitting shirt. During summer, you may want to wear shorts or similar clothes, but beware of stretching or inverted poses. Those shorts should be over some tight-fitting bike shorts to keep everything in place.

What to Wear to Pilates - Male or Female
What to Wear to Pilates – Male or Female

What are the Best Clothes Brands to Wear for Pilates?

No matter are you searching for Pilates top or socks, make sure that you buy from reputable manufacturers. That does not mean to buy the most expensive item of course, but the clothes has to be well made to fulfil its purpose.

Some brands are available around the world, while others are harder to find in some places, or have to be ordered online. Also, some brands were developed especially for Pilates or Yoga, but beware of those. Some are fine, while others are overpriced and offer nothing better than some regular brands. Also, some have clothes that is stylish but completely useless for any real exercise. I know, looking nice in exercise clothes is something that boosts up your confidence, but keep in mind that it has to be functional. Besides, majority of those do not have items for men.

Among famous sport clothes manufacturers is Nike. They have some great low impact sport bras and leggings, as well as all kinds of shirts and sweatshirts. You will not go wrong by choosing their products. What makes them my top choice is worldwide availability, long tradition, large selection of clothes, and decent prices. Also, you can rest assured that their clothes is long lasting and dependable. Both ladies and gentlemen will be able to find something they like.

If you are not a fan of Nike, you can choose other famous sport clothing manufacturers, like Puma which has some great leggings for ladies, or Under Armour which is a top choice among men.

What Other Equipment is Needed for Pilates?

Besides clothes for Pilates, you should have some additional items too. Majority of the studios will provide equipment like balls, straps, rings and similar. Even mats are provided but some clients like to use their own Pilates mat. If you like to practice barefoot, I would advise you to bring your own.

Water bottle is another important item. Staying hydrated is something that you shouldn’t skip, so have one near you throughout the practice. It can be a regular water bottle, or a sport one that will prevent spilling the water.

Extra set of clothes, especially a shirt, is important if you sweat a lot. Change the shirt after class because walking around in a wet shirt is both unpleasant and unhealthy.

And lastly, a towel will be very useful. You can use it to wipe off sweat and to lay your head on it during certain exercises.

All of these are the essentials and having them is important. Those who want more can have special sports bags, mat carriers, and other similar items that are useful, but not mandatory, so don’t worry if you do not have them yet.

What to Wear to Pilates - Equipment
What to Wear to Pilates – Equipment


What to wear to Pilates is a common question among beginners, and the answer is actually simple. Wear comfortable clothes that are tight fitting and avoid anything that would impair your range of motion (maybe Pilates Activewear is the best option for you).

Having Pilates socks is a plus, so think about getting a pair of those to prevent any slipping.

You do not need any too expensive or special clothes, but I would always advise you to invest in a quality brand. In addition to that, you will need a water bottle and a towel, and you are all set to go!

By Sina

My name is Sina, and since young age, I have been passionate about sports. This website is a result of it, and my goal is to share my experience with all of you. Read more about me ....