What Kind of Clothes Should I Wear After Getting a Tattoo?

By Kathryn Walsh

Someday, a distressed leather jacket and studded boots might be the perfect complement to your new tattoo – or maybe it's in a place that's only visible when your clothes come off. Either way, dressing to highlight the tattoo is an issue for another day. When the ink is fresh, getting dressed should be all about protecting the skin and preventing further irritation.

Back of blonde woman with tattoo on back, close-up
credit: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/GettyImages
What Kind of Clothes Should I Wear After Getting a Tattoo?

Cover it Up

If wearing clothing over the tattoo could irritate it, then wouldn't it make more sense to keep that section of skin exposed as much as possible? Definitely, in the privacy of your own home, but not outdoors – and not just because the whole office doesn't need to see that much skin. Sun exposure can do a lot of damage to newly-tattooed skin in a very short time. The inked area is already sore and irritated, and getting burned there can be hugely painful and cause lasting damage. Always wear clothing over the area when going outside for the first week or so after getting tattooed, and be diligent about applying sunscreen there after that initial healing period.

Wrapping a Fresh Tattoo

Covering the tattoo with plastic wrap is an important protective step during the first day or so after getting inked. The wrap will protect the skin and keep blood and ink from smearing. The artist should provide specific instructions, but generally it's wise to keep the area wrapped for most of the day and night during the first day and maybe for a few nights after that. It may be necessary to change the wrapping every few hours to prevent sweat from building up.

Choosing the Right Clothes

Fit is the most important factor when choosing outfits after getting tattooed. Clothing worn around the tattooed area should be as loose and breathable as possible in order to prevent irritation and sweating. For example, after getting a tattoo on the lower back, hip or any other area in the middle of the body, avoid tight jeans or any pants with a snug waistband.

Color bleeding is also a possibility in the first few days after getting tattooed. Plastic wrap should protect your clothes from any seepage, but just in case, avoid wearing light fabrics or any items you would be devastated to see damaged.

Protecting Foot Tattoos

Sandals, flip-flops and heels are off limits for at least a few weeks after getting a tattoo on the foot. Straps that dig into the foot will irritate the skin, and sandals or any open type of shoe invite too much sun exposure. Keep feet bare as much as possible while indoors. To go outside during the first few days post-tattoo, wrap the area with plastic wrap and slip on a snug cotton sock and comfortable, roomy shoes.

Dressing for Bed

Avoid sleeping on the tattoo for the first week or so. Ideally, the affected skin will be covered only by plastic wrap for the first few nights and then uncovered for several nights after that, or at least until the tattoo is done peeling. That might mean sleeping in the buff or at least wearing loose, breathable cotton pajamas.