What To Wear To Play Tennis? (A guide to fashion and function)

Tennis is known for being an upscale sport stocked with plenty of rules and regulations. It’s also known for attracting the “country club type” of person, which often leads to unique fashion statements. The right tennis attire can not only approve your game but also help you fit in among tennis circles.

What should you wear when playing tennis? Though tennis is known for a country club aesthetic, many of the clothes worn on the court are chosen due to their ability to improve movement and protect the wearer. A good outfit includes:

  • Tennis Shoes
  • Socks
  • A Visor, Sunglasses Or Cap
  • A Cotton Tee Shirt
  • Matching Shorts Or A Tennis Skirt
  • A Cotton Wristband

Understanding the details of proper tennis attire is a must if you want to be serious about the sport. This guide will give you a step-by-step tour of a true tennis player’s closet.

What To Wear To Play Tennis

What Should You Wear When Playing Tennis?

Tennis attire is all about breathability, easy movement, and of course, proper court etiquette. If you are playing casually on a budget, you might be able to get along by just grabbing running gear and tennis shoes. However, official court attire is very different.

A typical court will require the following:

  • Tennis Shoes
  • Socks
  • Head/Sun Protection
  • A Cotton Tennis Shirt
  • Matching Shorts/Tennis Skirt
  • A Cotton Wristband

Understanding Tennis Fashion Culture

Tennis is one of the most unique sports in the world, especially when it comes to its sporting culture. Traditionally, this game was played among elites of Europe. Even today, it’s a sport that’s known for a culture heavily impacted by country club life.

The traditions associated with tennis means that it’s a game with regulations that borrow from country club culture–and that includes the fashion that players are allowed to wear while on the court. Rules tennis fashion are still heavily enforced in most private and public clubs.

There’s a definite social factor to abiding by the rules, too. It’s important to remember that playing tennis is seen as a way to connect to the elites around you. By wearing the right clothing, you’re signaling that you “get it.”

Are Tennis Fashions Specially Designed For Tennis?

Yes and no. Tennis shorts and shoes absolutely are. One-pieces for female tennis players are designed with the sport in mind as well. However, the cotton tees, visors, and sunglasses you might see won’t be specific to tennis alone.

If you are concerned about having to buy a new wardrobe for your sport, don’t be put off by it. Most tennis gear can actually be reused into casual outfits if you have a nice, preppy sense of style.

The versatility of the fashions are actually a byproduct of the old wealth’s way of life. The concept of keeping clothing versatile while also maintaining a high level of quality is a staple among most country club members.

How Much Do I Need To Spend On Tennis Clothing?

There’s no mandatory minimum price tag on your tennis outfits. After all, that would be a very “nouveau riche” thing to do, and tennis is a game that’s more associated with old money. If you find a great outfit at the bargain bin, by all means, get it!

Buying Tennis Shoes

Tennis shoes are the first item you should take a look into when you’re shopping for tennis attire. Tennis shoes are sneakers that are lightweight, low tops, and designed for comfort while you’re running around.

No matter where you decide to play tennis, tennis shoes and socks will be required attire at all times. This means that if you try to enter the court with basketball shoes, you will most likely be turned away.

Tennis Shoe Etiquette

Part of buying the right shoes is knowing your local tennis club’s etiquette. In many clubs around the world, players are required to wear shoes with white bottoms as a way to protect the surface of the court. Though this practice has relaxed, it’s still best to err on the side of caution.

Your Outfit: Shirts

When it comes to tennis attire, the most important thing that people look at is your outfit. Generally speaking, both men and women are expected to wear cotton tee shirts. When choosing a shirt, it’s best to remember the following tips:

  • Choose cotton, always. Cotton is the most breathable fabric in tennis.
  • Make sure the fit is either tight or slightly loose. This helps prevent bulk and encumbrance while you move around on the court.
  • No long sleeves! You are allowed to wear a warm-up shirt when playing on and off the court.

Can I Wear A Sleeveless Shirt?

Sleeveless shirts are just starting to make it onto courts these days, and truthfully, it’s a good thing. They offer up excellent movement and also help keep players just a little bit cooler in high temperatures.

That being said, not all courts will allow sleeveless shirts. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to check with your court’s attire.

What About One-Piece Suits?

If you’re female, you have a little more leniency when it comes to shirts. One-piece outfits are considered to be trendy and easy for tennis players to use. They are also deemed acceptable in most courts.

Your Outfit: Shorts And Skirts

Selecting shorts (or tennis skirts) for your outfit is another major deal in the tennis world. When choosing shorts, it’s crucial to get shorts that are specifically made for tennis. This is both due to the strict regulations country clubs have and the way they wick away sweat.

Ladies who want to wear a tennis skirt are always allowed to do so. Tennis skirts that are actually made for the sport will have shorts built-in underneath, so make sure that yours do if you want to hit the court.

Etiquette Dealing With Shorts And Skirts

Believe it or not, there’s actually a fair amount of rules that deal with your bottom attire. These include the following:

  • You must match your shorts to your shirt. Not matching your outfit might bar you from upscale courts and country clubs. It’s considered to be proper etiquette.
  • Gym shorts are not tennis shorts. It’s a common misconception, but it’s one that may bar you from playing.
  • Avoid tennis shorts that have a “loud” pattern or any sort of eccentric design. Looking ostentatious is a major no-no in country club culture. Depending on how strict the club is, this can get you barred from the court.

Sun Protection

It’s no secret. During the summer, the sun can bear down on even the most sunshiney person! That’s why tennis courts strongly encourage some form of sun protection wear. The following sun protection accessories are highly recommended:

  • Visors. This classic 80s look is definitely still in at tennis clubs!
  • Sunglasses. Sunglasses are generally seen as the go-to for country clubs.
  • Hats. This is a more controversial pick, so make a point of asking for your club’s policy before you go.

Wrist Protection

A little-known aspect of tennis attire is the use of “wooly” cotton wristbands. These wristbands are not mandatory by any means, but they’re still a highly recommended part of a tennis outfit. Why? Because they protect your wrist from the impact of a tennis racket!

With your wrist protection, you can definitely get a little bit more creative even though many choose to match their wristbands to their outfits. After all, what’s tennis, if not a way to flaunt some sporty style while you get in shape?

David Lee

Hey there, my name is David Lee and I am the person behind this website. I started playing tennis over 20 years ago and on this site I will show you how to enjoy tennis.

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