I Tried 3 Popular Workout Dresses To See If They’re Worth The Hype

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Green smoothies, artfully composed oatmeal bowls, early morning workouts, and a dash of journaling for introspection: the activities of “That Girl” in the wild.

As an elder millennial, I enjoy observing trends, like being “That Girl” on social media. I’m also blessedly at an age where I feel absolutely zero pressure to conform to said trends. However, it turns out that I enjoy some of the elements of a “That Girl” routine anyway. I wake up at 6 a.m. every day, I love oatmeal and hiking, and I’m thirsty all the time, so I drink a ton of water. Plus, I own a stack of journals that I love to write in by hand. I also love eating donuts for breakfast, watching TV and guzzling coffee. Balance is key, right?

Being “That Girl”: The Rundown On 3 Exercise Dresses

Anyway, Those Girls are always looking very cute and put together for their workouts. Some of Those Girls are rocking matching sets, but recently, I’ve noticed more girls wearing workout dresses. My level of skepticism about workout dresses was high. These mini dresses looked like they might be designed for the most youthful and slim among us rather than my curvy self.

Plus, many of these dresses look like they were designed more for a coffee date with your bestie and not a sweaty sesh at the gym. But I put skepticism aside and ordered a handful of styles to try out for you all. Below you’ll find a favorite, a fizzle and a fail (but more on that below).

A Favorite: Outdoor Voices The Exercise Dress

The Exercise Dress is the first item I’ve purchased from Outdoor Voices, and I’m not disappointed. This is a one-piece workout outfit with built-in shorts. The material is wicking performance fabric yet has a beautiful drape that’s overall very flattering (and, I think, hard to find in athletic wear).

The Exercise Dress from Outdoor Voices is a 1-piece workout outfit w/ built-in shorts. The material is wicking performance fabric yet has a beautiful drape that’s very flattering.

Outdoor Voices The Exercise Dress (XL)

Fit notes: I tried on both the L and XL sizes. Both fit me, but I prefer the fit of the XL because it’s a little bit longer on me. The built-in shorts on the large peeked out from under the skirt. Although this is a one-piece, the stretchy fabric and strappy design make it easy to get on and off.

I prefer the fit of the XL because it’s a little bit longer on me. The built-in shorts on the L peeked out from under the skirt.

One downside to all of the workout dresses I tried on is the same downside of any one-piece design — I’m pear-shaped, and the top of the dresses were all a little bit too big on me in comparison to the fit of the bottom.

However, this dress has adjustable straps, which makes a significant difference in fit. One tip is that the top is very low support, in my opinion. If you intend to actually exercise in this dress, I would definitely recommend layering a cute sports bra underneath. Here a few shots of The Excercise Dress in action…

I’m pear-shaped, & the top of the workout dresses were all too big on me in comparison to the fit of the bottom. The Exercise Dress has adjustable straps to help this problem.

Outdoor Voices The Exercise Dress (XL)


A Fizzle: Girlfriend Collective Paloma Racerback Dress

Girlfriend Collective’s Midnight Paloma Dress pained me. I genuinely do not understand the concept of this dress. The racerback design is so cute, the material is Girlfriend Collective’s signature sleek, thick, durable recycled fabric, and the colors the dress comes in are beautiful. The dress is a one-piece that comes with built-in shorts, so it’s basically a unitard with a skirt over it.

I have to step into the skort through the neckline of the Girlfriend Collective Paloma Dress. What?! That means the neckline has to be big enough to fit over my butt + hips.

Girlfriend Collective’s Paloma Dress (XL)

So, I have to step into the skort through the neckline of the dress. What?! That means the neckline has to be big enough to fit over my butt and my hips. I’m not sure how everyone else is built, but my neck-to-butt ratio does not allow me to put this dress on easily. I can wiggle it on, but how on earth am I supposed to use the restroom when I’m hydrating all day long??

Fit notes: I would also note that the top of the dress is runs small. I’m wearing an XL above, but the top of the dress fits me more like a medium in other brands.

Girlfriend Collective’s Paloma Dress (XL)

I was surprised about the issues with this dress because Girlfriend Collective has very inclusive sizing and uses diverse body types to model its designs on its website. I don’t get why a brand that’s dedicated to inclusivity would design a piece that requires the size of your butt and neck to be within shouting distance of each other in terms of circumference. I usually love Girlfriend Collective, so this is a rare fizzle from the brand for me.


A Promising Find: Athleta Om My Way Dress

When I first received Athleta’s Om My Way Dress, I was a little confused. It’s just a mini dress made from performance material. There’s no built-in bra or shorts. Initially, I was kind of annoyed — the price point is high for a workout dress that I’ll need to layer with a sports bra and bike shorts.

However, the fabric is high quality, and after trying on other dresses with the bra and shorts built in, I realized that this dress does have a couple of virtues.

When I got Athleta's Om My Way Dress, I was confused. It’s just a mini dress made from performance material. There’s no built-in bra or shorts.

Athleta’s Om My Way Dress (L)

First, I had success layering the dress with my own bra and bike shorts that actually fit me instead of dealing with built-ins that may not have worked for my body (particularly if you have a bigger bust or booty but not both). Second, it’s the easiest of all the designs I tried to take on and off.

Fit notes: I tried on both the L and XL in this style as well, and I preferred the fit of the large over the XL.

Athleta’s Om My Way Dress (L)


A Fail: Athleta Infinity Dress (Not Pictured)

I also tried on Athleta’s Infinity Dress. Excuse me — I should say, I attempted to try on the Infinity Dress. This design looked so similar to the Outdoor Voices workout dress. It’s black, it’s strappy, and it’s made of performance material. The design has built-in shorts, and the skirt is a flattering, soft A-line. But, crucially, the neckline of this design is higher, and the fabric is less stretchy. I could not get the neckline over my hips. Sadly, this was a fail for me from one of my favorite brands.


Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how flattering and wearable I found the Outdoor Voices Exercise Dress and Athleta Om My Way workout dress to be. I don’t think I’ll be wearing these to yoga class anytime soon (the view from the row behind me would a little much, I think), but I will be wearing my Outdoor Voices dress hiking. I’d be happy to grab a coffee (or a pint) in this cute number after a hike, and I think that makes the dress worth the investment.

Xo

Anne

Hey, Pinners! Look at this.

"That Girl" rocks her exercise dress, but are they made for us curvy girls too? I'm putting Outdoor Voices, Girlfriend Collective & Athleta to the test.




11 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the reviews! I’ve always been curious about exercises dresses. But I’m confused–if the Outdoor Voices one also has built-in shorts, didn’t you also have to step into that one through the neckline? You said that was the dealbreaker for the Girlfriend Collective one. Am I missing something? I looked on the OV website and it does look cute!

  2. Hi Shan! Yes the OV dress is also step-through but the neckline is stretchy and strappy – much easier to step through. The Girlfriend Collective material is quite thick and the design is more like a halter so it’s much more difficult to step through. Hope that helps! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Thanks for doing the lord’s work and trying these. I bought a really cute one-shoulder dress from Beyond Yoga (built-in bra, no shorts) that I really like, but I definitely do NOT wear it for working out in. To me, the entire concept of a unitard-with-skirt just sounds nightmarish. I’ve gotten on board with one-piece dressing in everyday life, but the idea of peeling off an entire skin-tight dress off my sweaty, sticky body in an increasing panic as I try to get fully nude to pee after a workout or hike is giving me anxiety just thinking about it. So, I can see why you ended up enjoying the dress that has no bra/shorts…but then my practical side just thinks, “if you’re going to layer it over your bike shorts and bra, why not just…work out in the bike shorts and bra?” The workout dress feels more analogous to a “coverup” for me in that sense, which I suppose has its own benefits if you want to stack errands or hangouts with your workout. But all one piece? I just can’t wrap my head around it.

  4. The Abercrombie workout dress is also surprisingly great. I left mine in a hotel room and have been hunting for a new one ever since. Bygones.

  5. KT thanks for your comment – made me laugh so hard. Absolutely feel the same way imagining how I know I feel at mile four about half a mile from the port-a-potty at the end of the trail…like how to take off without touching the walls?? Nightmare material. The OV dress is not bad to get off though really 🙂

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