I Worked Out In a Dress (Yes, Really)—and Actually Liked It
I’ll admit: My workout drawer consists of mismatched leggings, sports bras, running shorts, the occasional old college t-shirt, and just a few coordinating sets that make me feel incredibly put together. Although I hit the gym and the park for workouts often, my go-to exercise gear is low-maintenance at best. So when I received an invitation to attend a zumba class and try out The Exercise Dress ($100; outdoorvoices.com) from cult-favorite activewear brand Outdoor Voices, I was more than a little skeptical.
The words exercise and dress simply didn’t seem to make sense to me when placed side-by-side in the same sentence. However, after learning that the popular item sold out within a week of its initial launch back in the summer of 2018—and again that same year after a few enhancements to the design were made—I was intrigued.
While it’s no surprise that a piece from Outdoor Voices would sell out so quickly—its swimwear collection had a 10,000-person waitlist last year—the fact that a dress is currently the athletic brand’s most popular style certainly is. But after slipping into a floral-printed version of the simple spaghetti strap silhouette, it all started to make sense.
The workout dress is thoughtfully lined with UnderAir shorts for complete coverage on the bottom, while the nylon and spandex material works to create a comfortable fit throughout the torso and chest. It fit so well, in fact, that I’m a C cup and didn’t even feel the need to wear a sports bra—though you could definitely opt to throw one on underneath the dress if you want more support. I personally loved the floral print I was given to try out, but it also comes in six other super cute colorways—including fun patterns like polka dots and solid-colored options. Oh, and did I mention that the shorts include an exterior pocket that’s actually big enough to hold your smartphone? No tiny pockets here.
Comfy fit aside, the real question was: How would the dress hold up during physical activity? And an outdoor Zumba class was just the thing to put it to the test. From jumping up and down and shimmying to squatting and twerking, the exercise dress proved to be as functional as it is cute. The shorts liner gave me the confidence to bend over and touch my toes without worrying about parts of my body hanging out for all to see, while the lightweight material wicked away sweat—keeping me at a comfortable temperature, even on a hot, humid evening in an outdoor class.
Although I still can’t picture myself lacing up my running shoes for a jog in the park while wearing the workout dress (mostly due to personal style reasons, not because I don’t think it would function on a long outdoor run), I’d certainly toss it into in my gym bag for a dance-inspired fitness class, a tennis lesson, or a hike.
Other shoppers seem to agree, as the innovative workout garment has garnered hundreds of positive reviews on the Outdoor Voices site. Many reviewers say they love the dress for its great fit, fun style, and versatility.
“I can't even fully put into words how I feel about this dress… It is flattering, empowering, and versatile. I just told my sister that if every piece of clothing I owned made me feel this good then I would be unstoppable! Every day I have worn it, I've gotten compliments,” one reviewer wrote.
To buy: Outdoor Voices The Exercise Dress, $100; outdoorvoices.com
Not only do shoppers say they feel confident in the dress, but many are also using it as their go-to athleisure wear and donning it everywhere from ballet class to the airport. “I walk my dogs, I jog in it, I hike, I brunch in it, and plan on taking it to Spain this summer,” a shopper said. Another called the dress “the best article of clothing I own,” adding that they recently paired it with a jean jacket to wear on a plane.
In a world where athleisure is currently the off-duty style of choice for many, the exercise dress seems to be a welcome alternative to the usual leggings and tank combo. It can seamlessly transition from the gym to brunch even on a hot, sticky day, and simply has a way of making people feel good in their own skin.
If you’re ready to give the Outdoor Voices Exercise Dress a try, you’ll want to add it to your cart fast. There’s no guaranteeing the wildly popular item won’t sell out again.
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