Tennis Fashion 101: What to Wear to Play Tennis

When you play tennis, you will be moving rapidly in multiple directions. You will need to easily run, jump, swing and stretch to play the sport successfully. And this is why you need a suitable tennis outfit.

If you've only recently picked up a racket, you might be unsure about tennis fashion. Should you invest in a tennis skirt or shorts? What kinds of tennis tops are appropriate? What materials should your tennis shoes be made from?

Here is everything you need to know about what to wear to play tennis.

Where are you playing tennis?

Before thinking about tennis attire, the first thing to consider is where you are actually playing the game:

  • At an open play tennis court: If you are playing tennis at your leisure centre or in a local park, you can wear any kind of sportswear to play tennis. The only caveat is that you should choose footwear that won't damage or mark the court (this is particularly an issue for indoor tennis courts). You’re not obliged to wear tennis-specific clothes or shoes, although these will help a lot with your performance.
  • At a tennis club: If you are going to play tennis at a club, you will need to follow the club’s tennis dress codes. Each club has its own rules but usually, you will be required to wear recognised tennis tops and bottoms (rather than generic exercise wear). The club may also have rules on colours for tennis fashion.
  • In a competition: If you are attending a tennis competition, you will need to contact the organiser to find out what their rules are for tennis attire. Typically, you will be required to wear specific colours and recognised tennis clothing.
  • Tracksuits: It’s normally perfectly acceptable to wear tennis tracksuits at clubs and competitions before you actually begin playing a match.

What to wear to play tennis: clothing

Tennis clothing is specifically designed for the needs of the sport. It aims to increase your range of motion while using sweat-wicking materials which draw moisture away from the skin. Wearing proper tennis attire can have a big impact on your performance - especially during long matches.

There are a number of specific features of tennis clothing that set it apart from more generic sportswear. These include:

  • Freedom of movement: Tennis tops tend to be fairly loose, especially around the neck and shoulders. This is essential for comfortably serving a tennis ball. 
  • Moisture repelling fabrics: Tennis matches can easily last for a couple of hours - or longer. You, therefore, do not want to wear materials that absorb moisture (such as cotton), since this will lead to chafing. Tennis tops and shorts are usually made from a mix of moisture repelling fabrics, such as polyester and spandex. 
  • Longer at the front: When browsing for tennis tops, tennis shorts and tennis skirts, you will notice that they tend to be longer at the front than more generic exercise gear. This is to protect the skin during tennis-specific movements (such as serving). 
  • Tennis-specific features: Different types of apparel will also include tennis-specific features, such as abrasion-free seams, ball pockets in shorts and skorts, and cooling in specific areas that tend to get hotter in tennis matches. 

Tennis outfits for men:

If you are new to tennis, it is worth investing in tennis tops made with lightweight synthetic material. You can choose between tennis tops with a collar, classic t-shirt design or sleeveless tops.

When it comes to your bottom half, it is generally preferable to wear tennis shorts. Most tennis shorts are around mid-length providing a complete range of motion while also looking smart. Tennis shorts normally come with pockets where you can hold a couple of extra tennis balls.

Tennis attire for women

Women's tennis fashion uses the same materials as men but comes in a slightly wider variety.

For your top half, there is a wide range of styles available, including polo shirts, tee shirts and tank tops.

For your bottom half, you might choose between a tennis dress, a tennis skirt or a skort. Tennis skirts typically come with compression shorts underneath. You might also be more comfortable in a pair of women's tennis shorts.

Kids’ tennis attire

Finally, kids tennis clothing also comes with all the same features as adult equivalents for boys and girls.

Think about the season

When you are choosing your tennis outfit, it is definitely worth thinking about the kinds of conditions you'll be playing in. If you are playing in summer, you will want very lightweight clothing which maximises airflow. On the other hand, if you’re playing in the colder months you will really benefit from long-sleeved tennis tops and either leggings or jogging bottoms for your legs.

Tennis shoes

Your footwear is of vital importance for playing tennis. It is really worth investing in a pair of specially-designed tennis shoes that are intended specifically for the sport. They provide cushioning all over the foot to mirror the sport’s complex footwork. Tennis shoes make it easier to change direction quickly, stop and start, slide and also jump.

Tennis shoes also need to be breathable and lightweight. And they must have a solid grip to prevent unintentional slips.

There is little difference between men's tennis shoes and women's tennis shoes, besides size and colour. As ever, if you are playing at a tennis club or competition it's definitely worth checking if there are any rules about the colour of your tennis shoes.

Kids tennis shoes offer much the same features as adult shoes but come with extra cushioning to minimise injury for younger players.

Tennis accessories

While tennis clothes and tennis shoes are perhaps the most important aspects of tennis fashion, it is also worth considering other accessories which can make it more comfortable to play the sport:

  • Tennis socks: A good pair of tennis socks will provide additional support and cushioning for your feet.
  • Wristband: A wristband prevents sweat from running onto your hands and can also help absorb some of the vibration caused by hitting the tennis racket. That could reduce your risk of getting tennis elbow.
  • Headband: A tennis headband will keep hair and sweat out of your eyes.
  • Tennis cap or visor: Atennis cap can prevent the sun from getting in your eyes, reduce your risk of sunburn and also control perspiration.
  • Bags: Tennis bags are useful for carrying your rackets, balls, clothing and other equipment to and from the tennis courts.

Tennis fashion - looking fresh on the court

Although the primary purpose of tennis shoes and clothing is to facilitate your movement, reduce discomfort and minimise injury, you will of course want to look good while on the court too! 

Browse ASICS’ range of carefully designed clothing and shoes to find tennis fashion that not only feels good but looks good too.