What to wear for pickleball? That depends on who you ask, because pickleball fashion is pretty broad, especially in comparison to typical tennis apparel.
Famed fashion designer Norma Kamali is 77 years old and, as you might expect, has seen a lot of people her age playing pickleball. She’s also heard a lot of them ask her to design clothes for the sport.
Kamali’s threads are typically a little high-fashion, built more for the runway than the court. But she did decide to name one of her recent dresses “the pickleball dress” just for fun.
Obviously, that dress is not meant for athletic use. So what does define pickleball fashion?
Why don't you consult "The Denim Demon," who regularly pulls off upsets of high level 5.0s while sporting jeans and long hair. Or Ky McMakin, who regularly adds other unusual accoutrements to his attire (see above).
Then there's world number 1 Anna Leigh Waters, who typically sports tennis dresses. Contrast that with Irina Tereschenko, who rocks a flat brim hat all the time.
The New York Times recently asked Waters what she's noticed in the PB world.
“I see a lot of young girls wearing crop tops and skirts,” she says. “And with the older crowd, I see a lot of pickleball-related clothing like shirts that say ‘dinks and drinks’ with an image of a pickleball and, like, margarita glasses.”
Apparently, pickleball’s age diversity translates to an eclectic style. But for many, their on-court clothing is a lifestyle choice just as much as their decision to play pickleball in the first place.
“Simone Jardim...said that ‘a lot of players have found a second shot at life in pickleball,’ so there is a tendency for some to wear ‘lively’ clothes that express their enthusiasm for the sport.
No matter one’s sartorial taste, it seems the only rule in pickleball clothing (besides picking a different color than the ball) is to differentiate yourself from tennis players.
The NYT story ends: “...you’re never going to have the sophistication…of a sport like tennis…but people actually like that.”
What our readers wear while playing pickleball
We recently asked our newsletter subscribers (btw: why aren't YOU subscribed? Click here to stay up to date) what they typically wear when they hit the courts.
The responses we received were overwhelming, but here are some of the most common pickleball outfits our readers reported wearing:
- Skorts (with any combination of lightweight tank top) in the summer, leggings in the winter
- Hats, typically baseball cap style
- UV protected long sleeve shirts
- Performance fabrics with moisture-wicking, NEVER cotton
- Workout shorts and a tank top
- Lightweight jacket for cooler days outdoors
And, yes, some people responded that they still wear tennis clothes. But those who did noted that they are "left over from my tennis days."
Notice the past tense? As it should be.
Speaking of fashionable pickleball clothing: you need to check out our partners, AVI. They make clothing specifically for pickleball players. More info here.