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What to Wear to Pilates: 20 Best Pilates Clothes & Accessories to Consider

Dec 16, 2023

By Kiana Murden

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Every year, the Internet credits a new workout as the trick to achieving certain body goals, with pilates up to bat—which leaves us questioning what pilates clothes best supplement the workout.

But let’s take a step back: why are people flocking to the workout? “What’s the trick to these abs?” asked Blake Newby, Essence Magazine’s former beauty and style editor, to Lori Harvey on last year’s Met Gala red carpet. The 26-year-old model, socialite, and skin-care founder had her abs on display for the evening, sporting a halter-neck Michael Kors gown. “It’s pilates!” Harvey responded. “It’s changed my life.” With a clip of this interview going viral on TikTok, garnering nearly 600,000 likes (and the hashtag #loriharveypilates amassing 16.1 million views) to date, it quickly became clear that pilates would become the new “it” workout—though the practice is by no means new.

Los Angeles-based certified pilates instructor Kim Carruthers, who counts celebrities and professional athletes like Tyra Banks, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Derrick Rose as clients, explains that pilates was created by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century for rehabilitation—centered around the core principles of balance, precision, and control. Carruthers emphasizes that pilates isn’t just a workout, but rather a practice. “It’s a mind-body exercise practice,” she says. “When you think ‘practice,’ you understand that it’s something you should be able to do for a lifetime.” An important mindset to have, as experts note, pilates is suitable for everyone regardless of gender, age, or body type. Even more: she says the practice can aid in various forms of rehabilitation from post-op recovery to pre-and post-pregnancy healing.

While some might eagerly try the workout to achieve Harvey-esque abs, Carruthers notes there are further-reaching benefits of a pilates body. “It can transform your body to look, feel, and perform in a particular way [without building] excess bulk for a longer, leaner look,” she continues. “Of course, you get all of those benefits, but ideally, understand it’s a mindfulness exercise.” She recommends setting intentions for your practice to see your desired results.

“Once you start taking [the practice] consistently, you’ll begin to feel a deep connection with the body on and off the mat,” says Jacqui Kingswell, founder of The Pilates Class online platform. Essentially, regardless of what method of pilates you’re practicing (mat and reformer pilates are the most popular), she notes you can see improvement in core activation, flexibility, strength, posture, and overall body awareness. According to her, how often you should practice pilates depends on what your goals are. “It teaches you to listen to your body and what will feel good for you every single day. That’s the best thing—tuning into what I’m feeling on any given day,” she says.

Both of our experts agree that pilates seamlessly complements other exercises too, for those not ready to part from a beloved cardio workout, weightlifting, or yoga. For an intensive workout, Kingswell recommends practicing pilates four to five times per week; otherwise, incorporating it two to three times is amazing for beginners. As for how long you can see results: “Within a week, people are starting to feel muscles they may not have felt before and it just gets deeper from there,” Kingswell explains. Per Carruthers, after 30 sessions, you can expect to literally feel that your body has increased mobility—or what she calls having a different body.

Ready to try pilates for the first time or reacclimate yourself to the practice after a hiatus? Here, we break down what to wear—along with the fitness accessories that might come in handy.

Consider your trusted workout tops great pilates clothes too—just try to avoid something overly flowy or anything that might limit your range of motion. Ideally, you select a top where form meets function—specific to your body type and comfort level. While you can certainly opt for a sports bra like these by Natori or Outdoor Voices, you can also pick something that feels more like a T-shirt or crop top. Kingswell is a fan of Alo Yoga’s options—this tank is perfect to layer over a bra style. Otherwise, Beyond Yoga’s racerback is a soft and versatile pick suitable for low-impact workouts.

Outdoor Voices FreeForm Sports Bra


Natori Yogi Convertible Sports Bra


Alo Yoga Cover Tank


Beyond Yoga Spacedye Racerback Tank


“You don’t want anything too tight or low-waisted,” notes Kingswell. “It’s all about feeling comfortable.” While her personal go-to is Lululemon’s Align leggings for their high-waist, soft fabric, and stretchy fit, Tory Burch Sport’s legging is just as supportive, specifically for medium-to-high impact workouts. Not into a pant legging? Short styles are excellent for pilates, too. Girlfriend Collective's biker shorts are compressive, lightweight, and designed not to ride up during your workout. Then, there is Year Of Ours’s ribbed style featuring a crossover waistband that’s a fun twist on classic activewear.

Lululemon Align High-Rise Pant 25"


Tory Burch Sport Sculpt Diagonal Chevron Legging


Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Bike Short


Year Of Ours Studio Rib-Knit Bike Shorts


Instead of activewear separates, you could select a onesie to workout in style. With the rise in fitness and lounge apparel in recent years, we’ve been seeing plenty of iterations of the workout unitard that emphasize comfortability with effective movement. Those who typically workout in a legging might opt for jumpsuits by FP Movement or Nike, which both crop right at the ankle. Then there are romper styles by Girlfriend Collective and Alo Yoga—biker-length options designed with buttery soft fabrics and a built-in bra. Basically, these take the guesswork out of exercise dressing.

FP Movement My High Ankle-Crop Jumpsuit


Nike Yoga Dri-FIT Luxe 7/8 Jumpsuit


Alo Yoga Alosoft Suns Out Onesie


Girlfriend Collective Bike Unitard


If you’re headed to a pilates studio or simply prefer not to workout barefoot, Carruthers recommends having a pair of grippy socks on hand. From Alo Yoga, Wander G, All in Motion, or Bombas, these ensure you won’t slip during your workout thanks to performance grips lining the bottom of comfortable, breathable fabrics.

Alo Yoga Women's Pivot Barre Sock


Bombas Performance Grippers Socks


Wander G Non Slip Skid Socks with Grips


All in Motion Solid Barre Liner Socks


Unable to head to the studio? Our experts say you can easily practice at home using just your body weight or with an assortment of fitness accessories to enhance your workout. “First, you should invest in a good mat,” says Carruthers. “This would preferably be something non-slip and thicker than your traditional yoga mat.” Then, she explains that to “add tension and resistance to some of the exercises,” incorporate weights, resistance bands, or pilates balls into your practice. No pressure here, though—oftentimes, your body weight is sufficient, particularly for beginners.

Alo Yoga Warrior Mat


Bala Monochromatic 2-Piece Weight Set


GymB Resistance Band Set


Bala Power Ring


The JumpsuitThe LeggingThe Sports BraThe Comfy TankThe Workout ShortThe Functional Mat