The Appropriate Attire for a Barre Fitness Class

You don't have to spend loads of money on barre fitness clothing before your first class. It's perfectly acceptable to wear whatever feels most comfortable, whether that's a high-end specialty tank or the sports bra you've had forever. If you're unsure of what to wear to barre class, check with the studio before you visit. The staff will be happy to guide you and give suggestions.

What to Wear to Barre Class

Every niche fitness class has apparel trends that develop partly out of function and partly out of fashion. In the case of barre workouts, close-fitting cropped pants are the most common staples because classes focus on making small changes to leg and body position. When you wear tighter pants, you can see and correct mistakes more easily than if you were wearing baggy bottoms.

Since you're working on the floor a lot, shorts are usually not recommended. Stick with capris or ankle-length leggings.

Barre classes are typically performed either barefoot or in studio socks with slip-resistant grips on the bottom. Different studios have different policies. But you'll never need shoes.

Once you've attended a few classes and you're confident you'll continue, have fun with your wardrobe selections!

"One of the things I love about teaching barre is that there's a predominately female presence in the class," says ​New York City fitness instructor Allison Kimmel. "If there's ever a time to wear a sexier top or express yourself with fun colors, barre class is the place to do it." There are lots of cute barre workout tights and tanks that look every bit as good in the studio as they do on the street. 

Barre Apparel Basics

barre workout apparel
Collage by Laura Williams

When it comes to barre, it's important to keep comfort in mind. Jennifer McCamish, a fitness instructor and owner of the Austin, Texas, mind-body fitness and athletic training studio Dancers Shape, recommends that you wear clothing that's comfortable and easy to move in. "It's helpful for teachers to see body alignment to properly adjust positions for the most effective and safe workout,” she explains.

Consider building your barre workout wardrobe by starting with pants in basic blacks and greys that you can mix and match with a variety of workout tops.

Look for fun features, like the vertically-ribbed mesh of the Beloforte La Rein Rib Crop that looks a bit like corduroy, or the ruched-like appearance of the Splendid Twisted Leggings. Both work great during barre class and can transition to after-workout wear with the right top or tunic. 

Top your favorite leggings with a comfortable tank, like the super-breatheable Splendid Jill Tank. And don't forget to select a beautiful, but supportive, sports bra. The Beloforte laser-cut Sofia Bra features cut-out details and mesh paneling to keep you cool and dry.

Last, but not least, don't forget those slip-resistant socks! The Bar Method offers a variety of styles, but their Open Top Socks are especially cute, offering a ballet slipper-like appearance.

Barre Class Accessories

barre workout accessories
Collage by Laura Williams

What you wear during class isn't necessarily all you should have on hand. "Studios are often cold and you usually don't warm up until several minutes into class," says Kimmel. "It's a good idea to have a long-sleeve shirt to start, which you can peel off as you start to feel the burn." The Splendid Kendra Longsleeve Cross-Back is one cute and workout-appropriate option. 

McCamish points out that barre allows an easy transition from workout to your after-workout activities. "In barre class, you don't sweat the same way you would in a spin class or boot camp. That means you can make social plans right after your class," she says.

Just top your tank with a good crossover cover-up or casual dress. For instance, a long-sleeve crew is an easy layer over leggings. Pair with a cute flat or the go-anywhere, water-resistant, vegan-friendly Arcopedico Liana boots for the perfect casual-but-cute outfit.

You're also going to need a bag to carry your gear. Because barre classes don't call for much, you don't need a heavy-duty gym bag. Instead, opt for a cute backpack that has enough room for your post-workout outfit and barre socks, but is built for daily use, with tech-friendly pockets and padding.

The STM Grace Pack is a nice option. It features a laptop and tablet sleeve, along with a cable routing system that allows you to charge your gear on the go. 

Finally, barre classes may not make you sweat like other workouts, but that doesn't mean you can forgo H2O. Carry a water bottle with you at all times, and keep it near your mat during your workout. The 20-ounce Camelbak Chute vacuum-insulated bottle is a practical option that keeps cold beverages cold for up to 24 hours. 

By Laura Williams, MSEd, ASCM-CEP
Laura Williams is a fitness expert and advocate with certifications from the American Council on Exercise and the American College of Sports Medicine.