Athletic wear has become mainstream, driven by staying at home for a year. From leggings to bike shorts to skorts (yes, skorts), these styles have been less about fitness and more about fashion. For months and months, I’ve been seeing tennis dresses everywhere. These aren’t your ‘90s polo dresses, made from thick, pique fabric and paired with pearls. No, these are exercise and workout dresses, made from athletic fabric, with a bodysuit underneath and they’re everywhere.
I wanted to see what the fuss was all about and if these dresses would give me the comfort and breathability for the summer that I crave, but with the coverage of workout clothes. So, I got the chance to test three of the most popular ones on the market from Outdoor Voices, Aerie, and Girlfriend Collective. Each dress has thin straps and a stretchy bodysuit with shorts underneath, but that’s about as far as the comparisons go. Each had a set of pros and cons, but what I’ve deduced is that you really can’t go wrong if you want to be comfortable and stylish. Tennis dresses are a go.
The Exercise Dress
This dress is my overall favorite. It’s sleek and comfortable, slightly swishy (in a good way), and comes in multiple neutral colors so it’s easy to wear on its own or layered under a shirt or sweater. The adjustable straps felt secure, the fabric was by far the lightest feeling of the bunch (though it wrinkled the easiest), and the shorts underneath were the perfect length. Each leg has its own pocket, as well.
Best Feature: The updated version of the Exercise Dress has multiple pockets and a grip on the shorts to keep them from rolling up.
OFFLINE Printed Dress
The fabric on this dress from Aerie is very lightweight and breathable, making it the perfect thing for throwing on when it’s scorching outside. The straps themselves have a bra-like feel, rather than matching the rest of the fabric, making this option a bit more athletic-looking than the others, but the unique back detail was a nice touch. Each pocket on the legs were deep enough to easily fit my phone.
Best Feature: This was by far the softest of the three dresses I tried. It feels more like a pair of well-washed leggings than a dress. I also really like the way the straps cross in the back, with the slider to adjust in the middle rather than on each strap.
Unlike the other dresses I tried, this has a unique halter neckline. This may not be the best cut for people with larger chests, but it worked well for me. The fabric is stretchy and comfortable and I found this to be on the longer side for me, which is great if you’re tall. The only downside is it’s a bit difficult to get on and off because of the neckline. It has pockets on each hip, though they were the smallest of the bunch and made from mesh.
Best Feature: The built in bra. Other dresses don’t offer much in the way of support, but the band in this dress feels much more secure than the others.
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