What To Wear When Getting A Shoulder Tattoo

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 22, 2020
    Last Updated: December 26, 2020

Tattoos are often long and even painful experiences that last hours, nevertheless the result is almost always worth it. Preparation is crucial, of course, and everything from planning the design and location of your tattoo to choosing what to wear can impact your experience and the outcome of your artwork. Everyone wants their tattoo to look great, therefore, you should do everything you can to make that happen.

Clothes can make or break people’s experience, thus being comfortable, clean, and confident in what you’re wearing is essential, especially when you’re heading into the studio for a shoulder tattoo. Your wardrobe matters.

Here’s what to wear and what to consider comfort-wise when getting a shoulder tattoo.


When getting a shoulder tattoo you should wear clean, loose clothing that is comfortable and can be moved around easily by the tattoo artist. Tank tops or cotton t-shirts will work well for a tattoo in this area.

Priority 1: Cleanliness

Both client and artist should be focused on a hygienic experience, and on the client’s side, one of the best ways to improve that experience is by choosing what clothes to wear carefully. The artist will provide a clean work environment, however it’s up to you to provide a clean canvas and clothing.

By wearing a fresh tank top or loose t-shirt, the artist will have better access to the area. By wearing clothing that doesn’t get in the artist’s way, you are more likely to keep your shirt clean, thus not ruining it. Blood, ink, and sweat will be present during a tattoo session, so wearing a shirt that you don’t care too much about may be a good idea too.

The sort of clothing you wear to your appointment will also help or harm you in the healing process. Tank tops will keep clothing off of your shoulder tattoo, while stretchy fabrics will allow you to remove the shirt with little to no contact. 

Loose shirts or stretchy fabric give the tattoo space to heal by not rubbing on the fresh wound and allowing the scabs to form without being scratched away. Preparation is key.

Priority 2: Comfort

During a tattoo, sweat can cause disturbances for the artist and in the healing process later on. Excess sweat and tight-fitting clothing create an atmosphere that is not conducive to comfort. Wearing breathable clothing with maximum airflow can alleviate this problem.

Loose, plant-based clothing, like cotton t-shirts or tank tops, are perfect for a shoulder tattoo. They can easily be moved out of the way to give the artist proper access to the canvas. Plant-based materials also breathe, so you’re less likely to sweat in the artist’s chair. While your artist is a professional and won’t mind a bit of nerves, you’ll feel more comfortable if you’re cooler and drier when receiving a tattoo.

Priority 3: Confidence

Getting a tattoo is an intimate experience, therefore, trust and safety are essential to customer and artist satisfaction. An uncomfortable, unconfident canvas is never fun for an artist to work on, and that experience impacts the customer. Making sure you’re confident in the tattoo parlor can be impacted by your clothing. 

Often, clothing can be a way to boost confidence when you’re getting a tattoo. Since the customer experience is essential to repeat business, the customer should ultimately come to the appointment in whatever clothing makes them the most confident.

Although discretion should be used, and the prior points concerning comfort and cleanliness should be taken into account, confidence is perhaps the most important aspect of your clothing.

Especially for larger tattoos that require you to be in a state of undress, wearing something comfortable that you can easily put back on will help your confidence level. If your main concern is giving the artist the proper space to work, a tube or tank top that leaves the area exposed may suit you best. Otherwise, just take into account your comfort and cleanliness — you know your body best!

So, What Should You Wear?

Everyone wants an amazing tattoo, and as the artwork will be displayed on you, what you wear to the tattoo parlor will impact your experience. Focusing on cleanliness, comfort, and confidence will result in not only a great experience for you, but for your artist too. By wearing loose, easily removed clothing or clothing that totally exposes your shoulder, your shoulder tattoo will get the attention it deserves!

When you eventually go ahead with getting your dream tattoo, it’s imperative that you always follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare advice closely, and be sure to invest in a high-quality tattoo healing lotion to aid recovery.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan-friendly aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated, but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times, and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.