I’ve been taking aerial silks (also called aerial fabrics) for several years, and I’ve learned just how important clothing choice is for a good day at class. For the most part, dressing for aerial class is much like dressing for yoga: you want to wear something comfortable and flexible. That said, there are a few extra considerations to keep in mind.
(Take note that I currently only have experience in aerial silks. If you’re taking an aerial class on another apparatus such as lyra or trapeze, these tips might not apply.)
What to look for in a silks class outfit
Wear fitted clothing
You’re going to be flipping upside-down and tying yourself up in the fabric. Loose pants are difficult to work with, and billowy shirts will flip up over your head. Form-fitting is best because it will stay out of your way, letting you focus on your technique. I often tuck my shirt into my leggings if I’m spending a lot of time upside-down.
Avoid zippers or anything else that could snag
The only embellishment on your clothes should be seams and prints. Mesh is ok, too. Avoid any kind of zipper or other decoration that could snag on the fabric. Simple leggings are usually your best bet.
I’ve worn my fair share of tanks and sleeveless tops, but most of the time, covering my armpits is ideal. Some tricks will get the fabric right under your arms, leading to some serious friction. Fabric burns under your arms do not feel good, friends! I prefer long sleeves when possible, but during the summer months, short sleeves do just fine, too.
As a bonus, covering your underarms also means you won’t transfer your deodorant or your sweat onto the fabric, which helps them stay cleaner for longer. Your classmates will thank you for keeping the fabric fresh!
Avoid slick fabrics
When you’re first starting out, the fabric on your pants might not make a difference. But once you start to do things like wraps and knee climbs, slippery fabrics will become your arch nemesis. Instead, look for fabrics that have a more cotton-like feel that aren’t too slick.
For an extra bonus, try to find leggings that have a knit texture. This can add just a little bit of friction that can help so much with grip on the slippery fabric!
Once you get really good and your technique is locked down, this won’t matter as much. In the meantime, a little help from your pants can make all the difference in helping you get comfortable.
Beware of low rise bottoms
I’ve noticed that wrapping yourself up in fabric has a way of tugging on your pants. This can lead to some awkward moments if your pants don’t have a lot of coverage. Anytime I’ve worn lower-rise bottoms, I’ve regretted it. I recommend sticking with mid- or high-rise styles.
Make sure your top has neckline coverage
This is another thing that comes back to being upside-down! This tip is especially important for folks with fuller breasts. If you wear a low-cut top or sports bra, when you go upside-down you might feel like you’re going to fall right out of it. That’s not a comfortable feeling and wardrobe malfunctions are awfully distracting, so make sure your top is ready for full inversions.
Wear longer inseams
The best bottoms aren’t just longer in rise, they’re also longer in length. Basically, I look for something that reaches past the widest part of my calf muscle. Crops that just barely go past the knee usually don’t work as well, and I never wear shorts because of the possibility of friction and burn on the backs of your knees with many skills and tricks.
Try a bodysuit
I admit I haven’t tried one myself yet, but this is a popular choice I see around my studio. Leotards or bodysuits layered under or over a pair of leggings provides extra coverage and won’t move as much as a tee. Something like this one from lululemon look promising. Or, if you want to go a step further, a catsuit is very practical for silks!
My favorite styles to wear to class
With all of the above in mind, here are the specific styles from my closet that I reach for the most when I’m getting ready for class.
Alo high waist moto leggings | Since these are made of a cotton-like fabric, they grip very well. The high rise version provides plenty of coverage, and the styling adds something interesting without zipper or other snag-prone elements.
Lululemon aligns | These are a godsend during summer. They’re long enough to cover everything that needs to be covered, light enough to keep me cool, and grippy enough so I don’t slide right out of the silks.
Athleta elation tights | Similar to align tights, Athleta’s fabric is just a touch softer and more grippy.
Lululemon swiftly LS | The great thing about these tops is that they’re perfect for both running and silks–one of the few styles in my closet that works for both! They’re fitted and lightweight, but still cover everything I need. As a bonus, these are lightweight enough that they’re not stifling even during the summer. I reach for one of my swiftlies almost every week.
Sweaty Betty glisten seamless LS. I love this top for similar reasons that I love lulu’s swiftlies. It’s a little thicker and warmer, which is nice for colder days in the studio. The fabric is very stretchy, which means I can push my sleeves back more easily when I need. I find that this top holds onto my tights well, which means it moves around less and stays down more easily than a swiftly. The only downside is that the fabric tends to show a bit of wash wear.