The 10 Best Exercise Dresses for Workouts or Lounging

The Outdoor Voices Athena Dress was made to move.

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The 11 Best Exercise Dresses for Workouts or Lounging
Abercrombie/ Old Navy/ LuluLemon

Since stay at home orders went into effect and donning yoga pants and messy buns during work meetings became socially acceptable, demand for comfortable, Zoom-appropriate attire soared. Your closet may be concealing one too many ghost trends of quarantines past - here's looking at you, tie-dye sweat sets, but activewear has evolved beyond typical track pants, racer-backed tanks, and yes, even matching sweatsuits. Instead, athleisure options have expanded to include everything from slacks to sweaters, and with normal activities (slowly but surely) returning, it's time to transition to more versatile, wear anywhere pieces.

Enter, the exercise dress. While these have typically been reserved for sports like golf or tennis, more recently exercise dresses have made their debut beyond the gates of the country club. We ranked our favorites based on fit, cost, and sizing options. (psst, Outdoor Voices received top marks for its made for movement Athena Dress) and chatted with a few seasoned style experts for some tips on how to take this fun-loving frock from running marathons to running errands.

Read on to discover the best exercise dresses to move in (or not).

Our Picks

Best Overall: Outdoor Voices Athena Dress

Active Dress
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What We Love: The ultra flexible material hugs your figure without clinging.

What We Don't: This stretchy staple only comes in two colors.

Inspired by the popularity of the iconic OV Athena Top, this high necked dress is made to move with you - not against you. The midweight compression fabric offers subtle sculpting around the middle, and the halter neckline plays a flattering game of peek-a-boo with your collarbones. Because the dress lacks lining (a.k.a. a built-in bra and shorts), layering and using the restroom are super simple.

Its fit, shape, and feel earned the Best Overall spot, but we love this dress so much, we wish we could buy it in every color.

Price at time of publish: $88

Sizes Available: XS-XL | Number of Colors: 2 | Fabric: Polyester + Spandex

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Best Value: Old Navy PowerSoft Sleeveless Shelf-Bra Support Dress for Women

Active Dress
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What We Love: The thick straps offer better support for larger chests.

What We Don't: It runs a little large, so keep that in mind when ordering.

Activewear has become akin to our everyday uniform, but more often than not, these pieces cost more than we would prefer to shell out. This comfy get up from Old Navy offers everything you want from an exercise dress: a wide range of sizes, multiple colorways, sweat wicking material, and a built-in bodysuit but at half the cost. Testers also say that the material is so flexible it can double as maternity wear. Our prediction? You won't want to take it off all season.

Price at time of publish: $60

Sizes Available: XS-4X; Petite, Regular, Tall | Number of Colors: 4 | Fabric: Polyester + Spandex

Best Splurge: Lacoste Women's Stretch Cotton Pique Polo Dress

Lacoste Women's Short Sleeve Slim Fit Stretch Pique Polo Dress
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What We Love: For those looking to cover up, the sleeves and button up collar offer a more modest option than racerbacks and tank tops.

What We Don't: It runs a little small, so we recommend sizing up when purchasing.

Ever wonder how celebs like Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid, and Kendall Jenner achieve that effortless, sporty girl vibe? The answer is simple. They take a classic piece, (like the one above) and pair it with a few modern touches (think a pair of sleek, white sneaks and some funky rimmed sunglasses). The hip hugging silhouette highlights curves while leaving a comfortable amount of room around your waist. Not to mention, this sporty number offers a more modest take on the exercise dress for those looking for a little more coverage.

Just make sure to consider sizing up before purchasing. We found the sleeves and chest especially run a little tight.

Price at time of publish: $155

Sizes Available: 32-44 | Number of Colors: 10 | Fabric: Stretch Cotton

Best For Plus Size: Girlfriend Collective Lola V-Neck Dress

Active Dress
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What We Love: With sizes starting at XXS and going through 6XL, this dress offers something for everyone.

What We Don't: The dress is so popular - it sells out quickly.

Come for the comfortable wear, but stay for the eco-conscious mission. The fabric is so buttery you would never guess it is made out of 90% recycled plastic bottles (PRET) and 10% spandex.

"The Girlfirend Collective exercise dress will be any thick-thighed gal's BFF. The dress both compresses and skims my body in the most flattering way, and the built-in bike shorts are the first I've experienced that don't constantly ride up. Plus, it's long enough to accomodate my 5'11 frame, and best part is, I don't even have to wear a bra," says Averi Baudler, InStyle news writer.

Our favorite part? Any Girlfriend Collective piece that has run its course can be sent back to their ReGirlfriend program. Girlfriend Collective will recycle your old piece into their current collection. Their earth-friendly attitude extends beyond their materials. They consolidate their fulfillment centers to limit the distance their clothing has to travel. Shipping times are a bit longer, but the sacrifice is worth it.

Price at time of publish: $88

Sizes Available: XXXS-6XL; Petite, Regular, Tall | Number of Colors: 6 | Fabric: Polyester + Spandex

Best With Shorts: Alo Yoga Alosoft Courtside Tennis Dress

Active Dress
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What We Love: The lightweight, matte material makes this the most transitional piece in the lineup.

What We Don't: The top runs a bit small, so bigger chested ladies should size up.

A favorite from Instagram girls and stylists alike, Alo Yoga's sporty dress looks just as cute with a pair of tennis shoes as they do with some slingbacks. Wishi stylist, Kate Gordon recommends Alo as one of her favorite brands of workout gear. "They have such a modern take on activewear. Their pieces feel easy to incorporate into anyone's wardrobe." Alo Yoga has been worn by high profile celebs, including Jennifer Garner, Lucy Hale, and Chrissy Tiegen - just to name a few.

The soft matte material zaps wetness, so you'll stay dry no matter how hot the summer gets. The cinched middle creates the snatched waist of your dreams.

But if we could change one thing, we would add a bit more room to the built-in bra.

Price at time of publish: $118

Sizes Available: XXS-L | Number of Colors: 5 | Fabric: Polyester + Spandex

Best Without Shorts: Abercrombie Polo Traveler Mini Dress

Active Dress
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What We Love: The collar provides a put together feel, making it easy to take this dress from court to cafe.

What We Don't: No shorts means easy visits to the restroom, but since the dress hits mid-thigh. Consider bringing your own along.

Spaghetti straps not working for you? Try this collared cutie instead. If you are having flashbacks to the ill fitting, pit stained Abercrombie logo tees of your youth, take a breather. The recent Abercrombie rebrand is all about comfort and care, and spoiler alert: they're killing it. But if you need further proof, this dress is available in 3 lengths (petite, regular, and tall), so there is lengths for everyone.

Pair this dress with a quarter zip sweater and crew socks for a preppy feel or a baseball cap and leather Birkenstocks for something more laid back.

Price at time of publish: $59

Sizes Available: XXS-XL; Petite, Regular, Tall | Number of Colors: 5 | Fabric: Polyester + Nylon

Best For Larger Busts: Halara Wannabe Everyday Dress

Active Dress
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What We Love: Available in a wide range of colors, sizes, and cup sizes, this off the rack dress feels tailored to you.

What We Don't: Certain colors aren't available for larger cup sizes.

If you are unsure about trying the exercise dress trend, this Tik Tok famous frock is a good place to start. With frequent markdowns and sales, you can score this stylish staple for well under $50. The fabric is woven with ultra-fine yarn that delivers the same velvety soft feel as other luxury brands. Best of all, the dress accommodates bigger busts. While the skinny straps may look precarious, they actually offer steady support. Those with larger chests should check out the "Fit DD-F Cups." This size provides a higher neckline and a larger built-in bra, so you can feel secure.

Price at time of publish: $55

Sizes Available: XS-4XL; Wannabe Length, Longer Length | Number of Colors: 32 | Fabric: Nylon + Elastane

Best For Golf: William Murray Golf Classic Polo Dress

Active Dress
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What We Love: Both sides have a discreet zippered pocket. Score!

What We Don't: If we had to change anything, we would expand the color range.

Bill Murray's namesake brand aims to infuse a little fun into an otherwise stuffy sport. Each item in the collection had to pass golf's strict dress code as well as the "could I nap in this?" test. We are happy to report this dress passes with flying colors. The breathable fabric skims the body without sticking to it, but our favorite part is the sneaky side pockets - perfect for stray tees or extra balls. Though the hem hits above the knee, it lacks shorts, so make sure to pack those before swinging your driver.

Not planning on hitting the range this summer? No problem. Wear it with some white sneakers and a crew neck sweater for a casual, preppy look.

Price at time of publish: $95

Sizes Available: XS-XXL | Number of Colors: 3 | Fabric: Polyester + Spandex

Best For Tennis: Lululemon Court Crush Tennis Dress

Active Dress
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What We Love: The paneling around the waist contours across the middle.

What We Don't: The built-in shorts leave behind no lines when wearing it but do make it more difficult to use the restroom.

Though exercise dresses may be inspired by traditional tennis and golf wear, not every exercise dress could carry its weight on the court. With a high neck and built in sports bra, this fit and flare keeps both your bust and stray tennis balls in their proper place. The extra paneling across the middle creates an hourglass shape, and the flouncy skirt has two layers to ensure your behind gets as much coverage as your front. The built-in shorts leave you line-free and also come with a hidden pocket big enough to stash your phone mid match.

Price at time of publish: $138

Sizes Available: 0-14 | Number of Colors: 6 | Fabric: Nylon + Lycra Elastane

Best Comfort: Bandier All Access Sport Rib Dress

Active Dress
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What We Love: In terms of comfort, this dress takes the cake.

What We Don't: So far, this dress only comes in white and black. We hope the color range expands.

During those thick-aired days of summer, most of your closet doesn't look appealing, especially your skin hugging spandex collection. Instead opt for this lightweight, a-line dress. The loose but structured fit feels light and breezy on the muggiest August day. Not to mention, it also disguises post summer barbeque bloat. The crew neck top accentuates your face and shoulders. For a heat friendly and off duty model look, we recommend pairing with some gold hoops and a slick back bun.

Price at time of publish: $98

Sizes Available: XXS-XXL | Number of Colors: 2 | Fabric: Nylon + Spandex

What to Keep In Mind

Material

As a rule, activewear is meant to be comfortable. New York based stylist, Audree Lopez suggests selecting pieces with proper stretch. "Most exercise dresses have a mix of Spandex, Lycra, elastane, nylon, polyester and cotton. This stretchy fabric is key so you can move around easily. It's not super restricting but it's supportive."

Care

While flexible fabrics guarantee a comfortable fit, they also require a little more care when washing. Many elastic fabrics are unable to tolerate hot water, so make sure to rinse them on cool. Sweat and body oils build up on the inside of your workout wear, so remember to turn your pieces inside out before throwing in the machine. This means that they should also skip the dryer. Instead, opt for hang drying these pieces. Pro tip: for extra stinky garments, soak the items in one part white distilled vinegar and four parts water for half an hour before washing. This will break down some stench causing oils.

Your Questions, Answered

How should I style an exercise dress?

Exercise dresses are made for more than just working out. Stylist Gordon loves workout dresses for their versatility. "They mix athletic wear with day to day style, and they are so easy to dress up or down." Fellow Wishi stylist, Adriana Ramirez-Gonzalez agrees. For a minimal vibe, she suggests adding a white linen button down and a sleek pair of sandals. If boho energy is more your speed, she recommends an embroidered poncho and platforms. Most importantly, remember the power of accessories. "Add a fun workout bag, scrunchie, or hat. Now, you can buy sweat resistant jewelry, so you don't have to worry about ruining any of your pieces during exercise!" says stylist Lopez. "These little changes add up to transform the feel of the garment."

What fabric should I look for?

The most important part of any garment is the material. When shopping for exercise dresses, look for fabrics with extra stretch. The most common are spandex, lycra, and elastane. These fabrics can stretch beyond their size and snap back to normal. Think of each of the small fibers like mini rubber bands. Most stretch fabrics nowadays have 4 way stretch, meaning they expand both lengthwise and crosswise for an even more comfortable fit.

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