If you’ve never been to a barre class IRL, you might be wondering what the heck you should wear. After all, the workout is partially based on ballet, done without shoes, and typically on a carpet — in other words, the circumstances are a little different than your typical gym or other workout classes. Will your favorite running shorts suffice? Or should you go full-on balletcore? We tapped barre experts for their advice on what apparel works well — and what doesn’t — when you’re pliéing, pulsing, and stretching.
“Choosing the right attire for your barre class is essential to ensure a comfortable and effective workout,” says Shannon Reznik, manager of training development at PureBarre. The good news is that you probably have everything you need in your workout wardrobe. Below, find what you should look for specifically.
1. Fitted silhouettes
“Barre being a mix of Ballet and Pilates, it’s important to see the lines of the body: try to wear fitted clothes that will allow your instructor to see if you’re doing the moves correctly,” says Julie Granger, a former pro ballerina, founder of The Studio Paris, and creator of Brooklyn Barre at Equinox. That said, there’s no real need to wear clothing that’s compressive. “In barre classes, we don’t jump, so there isn’t a strong need for support, [compared] to HIIT or bootcamp classes,” Granger says.
Flared leggings also aren’t ideal (even though they’re cute!). Flares hide the feet and prevent instructors from checking if your toes are in the proper position (be that pointed, in demi-point, or flexed), she says.
2. No zippers or clasps
Some leggings have zippered pockets on the sides, butt, or rear waistband. Though this is great for holding your keys and credit card while you’re, say, running, they’re a no-go for barre, Granger says. These metal or plastic elements will press into you during the workout, much of which is spent lying on your side, back, or with your leg on top of the barre — ouch.
Ditto for sports bras with adjustable straps or lots of clasps on the back. You’ll likely do a lot of core work on your back, and those hurt to lie on, Granger says.
3. Go for leggings
If you’re headed to a barre class on carpet, it’s best to wear leggings or long pants. You may need to kneel for some moves, and it’ll feel better to have fabric between your skin and the carpet.
If you’re looking to snap some good pics or want to really focus on your form, “7/8 leggings tend to give a prettier line, as well as solid colored over patterned ones,” Granger adds. But don’t let that pressure you. Feel free to have fun with your outfits. “Barre instructors love creativity!” she says.
4. Socks, but no sneaks
Some studios require grippy socks, while others don’t. If you do need or want to wear sticky socks, the most important thing is that they have good grip, Granger says. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of which look you prefer. “I prefer to go for low-rise, full-coverage socks, which will give a beautiful line and also make your practice comfortable,” Granger says. But “no matter which studio you take your classes at, regular socks and sneakers are a no-go.”
Still not sure exactly where to start, or looking for recs for barre-specific workoutwear? Granger and Reznik share their favorite things to wear to barre, below.