What Should You Wear When Getting a Tattoo

Preparing for getting a new tattoo might feel like preparing for surgery. Once you’ve selected your design and purchased your aftercare products, you might start to wonder: What should I wear to get a tattoo? Depending on the area you’re having tattooed, clothing can be tricky. You want to feel professional and comfortable while also giving your artist sufficient access to the skin.

When you go to get a tattoo, wear loose, comfortable clothing that exposes the area of the tattoo (or can be adjusted to expose the area of the tattoo). It’s a long session, so comfort is paramount. Don’t forget to wear something you don’t mind potentially getting stained.

Loose dresses, boxer shorts, and tube tops are all options, depending on what area you’re having tattooed. Let’s talk more about specific items of clothing you could wear if you’re getting a rib, chest, hip, back, arm, foot, or thigh tattoo. We’ll also cover what you can wear during the aftercare process, while your tattoo is still fresh and healing.

What should I wear to get a rib tattoo?

During the session

Men can wear a tank top that can be pulled around the rib area easily, although many men choose to remove their shirts for a rib tattoo. A shirt or tank with a drooped armhole may also work. Whatever you choose, even if it’s just your shorts, be sure your clothing is lightweight and breathable, because you’ll be sitting for 3-5 hours.

Ladies, don’t wear a tight bra when you go to get a rib tattoo. Instead, you can wear a:

  • Loose crop top
  • Tank top that can be pulled up
  • Bikini top
  • Loose-fitting bralette

As long as your artist can move or tape your clothing out of the way, you’ll be fine. If your tattoo is in a sensitive area, like directly under the bust, your tattoo artist probably has pasties available. They may also offer private rooms or privacy screens – just let them know what you prefer!

During the healing phase

While you’re healing, keep in mind that anything tight-fitting can scrub the newly-printed tattoo ink. Accumulating sweat can also become a problem. Wear lightweight, loose pieces. We recommend that ladies do not wear a bra for 24 hours after getting tattooed, and that they wear loose bras for the weeks following. Girls or guys, whatever you do, keep your tattoo clean and dry.

What should I wear to get a chest tattoo?

During the session

We recommend that ladies wear a tube top or a low-cut spaghetti top for an upper chest tattoo. It must be something that can be moved around easily during the session. If you’re tattooing the lower chest, a bikini top or loose sports bra/bralette may be a more apt choice.

Men, you can choose to remove your shirt for the easiest solution, or wear a t-shirt or tank that can be pulled up to expose the treatment area. Both men and women need to wear something they don’t mind getting ink on, just in case! And again, comfort is imperative, since you’ll be sitting for a long period of time.

During the healing phase

Women should avoid wearing a bra, at least at home, and then wear a looser-fitting bra out if they need to—you don’t want sweat building under the strap, because it can lead to infection.

Men and women should avoid tight-fitting gym clothing, because it may stretch and pull at the treatment area. Choose loose-fitting, light fabrics that are not heavy or scratchy.

What to Wear to get a Tattoo on Hip

During the session

Wear any fabric that slides easily around the body. Avoid light colors or favorite clothing pieces, because they could easily be ruined during the process!

Men, we recommend wearing adjustable, lightweight shorts or boxers that can be pulled up and down throughout the hip tattoo. Many women choose to wear long, flowing skirts or dresses that can be bunched up while still covering the rest of the body. Some female clients also wear bikini bottoms with side ties underneath whatever they wear, because they provide plenty of access to the hip area.

During the healing phase

Avoid jeans and pants with tight waistbands. Go for loose, comfortable loungewear. Shorts may also be better than long pants, depending on how high or low your hip tattoo is. Just be sure you don’t have skinny jeans or tight leggings rubbing against the treatment area at first.

What to Wear When Getting a Tattoo on Your Back

During the session:

Many men choose to remove their shirts and just wear boxer shorts while getting a full back tattoo. Another option for men or women is wearing a button-up shirt – but turned around! Flip the button-up around so that your arms are in the sleeves, but the back is wide open.

Some women use shirts with an open back, like a halter top, if it provides enough exposure for your design. Both men and women should wear bottoms with an elastic waistband, so they can be moved around while the artist is working on the lower back.

During the healing phase

Wear loose-fitting clothes for 2 weeks – 1 month after getting your back tattoo. You want some coverage to protect the tattoo, but you don’t want it to be so tight that it rubs against the tattoo. A boxy crop top, a tube top, or a loose and airy short-sleeved t-shirt should work. Also, keep in mind that black clothes absorb a lot of heat during warm seasons, which may not be ideal for your wound.

What to Wear when getting an Arm Tattoo

During the session

Be sure to wear something short-sleeved, cap-sleeved, or sleeveless. Bring a tank top or strapless top just in case, even if you wear something else into your appointment.

During the healing phase

Wear light materials during the healing period. If it is cold outside, choose hoodies and sweatshirts made of light materials that will not rub against the arm. Sweat and friction can disturb the tattoo, so avoid tight-fitting sleeves for several weeks.

What should I wear to get a foot tattoo?

During the session

Wear a pair of shoes that won’t disturb the affected area, like sandals or flats. Also, it’s important to note that feet tend to swell quite a bit during tattooing, so you might not be able to fit your feet back into your shoes. Keep that in mind when choosing your footwear.

During the healing phase

If you get a foot tattoo, the next step is to go barefoot for as long as possible! Men or women should not wear socks, because they’re tight-fitting and may affect the tattoo. Avoid tight-fitting footwear. Stick to slides or flip flops for those times you must wear shoes over the course of the healing process.

What should I wear to get a thigh tattoo?

During the session

Men or women must choose shorts that can be easily rolled up, exposing the thigh completely. Think airy, baggy shorts that can be tucked or taped up and out of the way, a skirt with a very long slit, or anything that you can pull up the thigh comfortably.

During the healing phase

During the first couple of weeks, avoid tight jeans. Stick to loose shorts or pants – anything that rubs against the area as little as possible, and won’t put too much pressure on the design.

Is it OK for Clothes to Touch a New Tattoo?

If your clothes touch your new tattoo, it’s probably OK. For the first two weeks, avoid wearing tight clothing that might rub or irritate the tattoo. This may interrupt the healing process by preventing your body from forming scabs.

Remember, you don’t want to keep your tattoos wrapped in plastic or bandages after the first few hours, and you don’t want to restrict the area with clothing, either. Wear breathable pieces that don’t cause a lot of friction or sweating.

You should also keep in mind that your new tattoo will ooze for a few weeks, so whatever you wear might be permanently stained by the new tattoo. Choose older, darker clothing that you don’t mind ruining.