Pilates: What to Wear & The Equipment You Need

Building strength, agility and balance, it’s no wonder that people adore Pilates. The discipline has soared in popularity in recent years with studios popping up all over the country.

If you’re hoping to give the practice a whirl, you might be wondering one thing. What should you wear to the class? We’ve got you covered.

This comprehensive guide will help you choose the right clothing and gear for your session, including the difference in what you need for different forms of Pilates.


What to wear to Mat Pilates?

Form-fitting clothes are generally the best style for Mat Pilates. This activity is all about the alignment of your body, which means that the instructor needs to be able to see your form.

On the other hand, you need to ensure that the clothes fit well and are not too revealing. Some of the key Pilates moves involve contorting your body into a variety of shapes. The last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable mid-session.

Keep things streamlined. However, just because your Pilates outfit should be simple, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have some fun with it.

There are many pieces of Pilates clothing that align with these guidelines while also looking flattering and fresh. Take some time to develop your own personal sense of style when you first decide to practice this activity.

What to wear to Reformer Pilates?

The clothing that you will wear to Reformer Pilates is similar to what you wear to traditional mat Pilates class. Again, you should ensure that your clothing is form-fitting and comfortable.

You will be moving faster during this class than you would in a mat class. For that reason, your clothes need to move with you and not create any distraction.

Most Reformer Pilates sessions require you to wear grip socks, which will offer you an extra level of grip.

Finally, while details–such as zippers and buckles–may look cute, they are not ideal for a Reformer Pilates session. These additions to your outfit can easily catch on things and disturb the class.

Equally, you need to take off any jewellery you may be wearing and, if you have long hair, you’re going to want to tie it back. The less fuss, the better.


Do you need socks for Pilates?

As we have mentioned, at some Reformer studios socks are compulsory. Before you head out to buy your gear, it’s important to remember that you can’t wear just any socks for Pilates.

Instead, you need to opt for a pair that has some grip on the bottom of them. This feature will mean that you don’t slip around when you’re trying to practice.

It also provides an extra level of balance when you’re transitioning from position to position. For Mat Pilates on the other hand, socks can of course still be beneficial for stability, but is not a must.

What are the best Pilates socks?

Looking for the best Pilates socks? While there are many available online, you need to make sure that you invest in a quality pair that will do the job. With that task in mind, let’s take a look at two of the best options you can get:


The cushioned grip socks for Pointe Studio might just be the perfect pair for you. These socks offer PVC grips which means that you will be sturdy and supported no matter what moves you’re doing. As a bonus, they come in an array of fun styles and colours.


Offering products that perform at the highest level, you can’t go wrong with some Pilates socks from the likes of Stance. The brand has developed its own proprietary fibers, which means that you get the most effective levels of comfort and support. In their own words, they are ‘defining the future of knitwear’.


Can I wear shorts to Pilates?

Yes! Shorts are a highly popular choice when it comes to Pilates outfits. It’s plain to see why. These items allow the instructor to see your form and alignment while also leaving you some room to breathe.

Long-style shorts tend to work well as they seamlessly offer both comfort and support. Pro tip: Be sure to opt for form-fitting shorts that won’t fall down your legs when you kick them up in the air.

Is yoga and Pilates clothing the same?

You may have noticed that there is a lot of overlap between yoga clothing and Pilates clothing. Essentially, the outfits you wear will be quite similar.

One of the major differences is the fact that Pilates attire is slightly more form-fitting than typical yoga clothing. That means that you may need two different wardrobes if you practice both disciplines. Luckily, since yoga and Pilates are massively popular, you can find attractive clothes for either.

What type of bra should I wear for Pilates?

Pilates is by no means a high-impact sport but you should still wear a sports bra. Choosing a fashion bra will mean that you are uncomfortable and lack the support you need.

Basically, you have two smart choices here–either a low-to-medium impact sports bra or a specific yoga bra instead. Whichever way you end up going, you should find that you get the level of support you need the most. Simple.

What clothing should men wear for Pilates?

Much like their female counterparts, men also need form-fitting clothing when practicing Pilates. Men’s Pilates clothing is as versatile as it is fashionable. Avoid baggy items of clothing at all costs here.

Compression leggings or yoga pants should do the trick when it comes to the lower half of the body. On top, men should put their comfort first. A slim-fit t-shirt may do the job while some men find that layering up–with a cosy hoodie–works well.

What equipment do I need for Pilates?

Now that you've got a clear idea of what you should wear for a Pilates class, let’s take a moment to talk about the equipment you will use. Thankfully, if you’re attending a Pilates class, you should find that the studio provides you with everything you need.

However, you may wish to further your Pilates journey in the comfort of your own home. If that’s the case, you will have to buy a few key pieces of gear to help you along the way.

Do I need weights and bands for Pilates?

While not always needed in a traditional Pilates class, Pilates weights are a great way to build muscle, burn fat and up your resistance. We recommend checking out our range from Bala for sleek, comfortable and oh-so-cool bangle weights for your wrists or ankles.

Similarly, exercise bands can be used to build resistance and tone muscle groups. If you’re looking for a full-body workout you can do at home, investing in these is the way to go.

What is a Pilates magic circle?

You may have heard of the Pilates ‘magic circle’, but do you know what it is? Put simply, this piece of equipment is a small resistance ring that you can use as a central part of your workout.

The tool was introduced by the practice’s founder, Joseph Pilates, as a way to help people find their centre. These days, the circular gear can be used in either a full class situation or at home as part of your everyday workout.

What about Pilates studio equipment?

Hoping to create the Pilates studio experience in your own home? The major pieces of equipment you will need are the reformer, Cadillac, chair or barrel.

Each of these is a significant investment, and so you should do your research before you go ahead and buy them. Ensure that you look at the variety of options before deciding what works for you.


Are Pilates and yoga mats the same?

While Pilates and yoga mats may look the same to the untrained eye, there is one fundamental difference between the two. Pilates mats are slightly thicker than yoga ones.

The reason for this is to ensure that fundamental exercises, such as a roll-up, don’t put too much pressure on your back or spine. You will notice that there is typically more cushioning and padding on these mats than you find with yoga mats.

Which Pilates mat is the best?

If you’re looking to get your first Pilates mat, you should ensure that you make the right decision. There are many different mats on the market but, the truth is, that some are superior to the rest. Here are three of the best mats that you can get.


  • If you’re looking for a slightly thinner mat, the Fable 2mm Commuter Mat has been crafted using biodegradable natural tree rubber and PU for ultimate stability and cushion. Lighter and thinner than the standard studio mat but still as grippy, it is designed to lay over your studio mat or to use alone.


  • Finally, Yogibare is the eco-sensitive yoga mat brand of your dreams. The Paws Mat offers a high level of grip and support with 4mm of thickness. The design of this fashion-forward mat means that you will certainly turn heads when you walk into your next Pilates session. The more you use the mat as part of your practice, the stronger it will ultimately get.


  • With a thickness of 8mm The Play Mat from Bala is as supportive as it is comfortable. The first-of-its-kind portal shape is a true showstopper. Its antimicrobial, waterproof top layer is moisture-wicking and nonslip. Break a sweat or take a nap, the choice is yours.

UP NEXT: Top 8 Reformer Pilates studios in London

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