“Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links.”
Everyone loves a good pair of stretchy, durable leggings for working out—but when warm weather rolls around, the thought of peeling them off after a gym sesh is…not the most appealing. A great breathable alternative? Exercise dresses. If you thought the fad was just about style—think again. Outdoor Voices, Old Navy, Abercrombie & Fitch, and more brands are selling iterations that prove these pieces of activewear are just as functional as they are cute.
“Exercise dresses help you stay cooler and drier during workouts, and feel so much lighter to move in,” explains Amy Rosoff Davis, celebrity fitness trainer and wellness coach. And when you’re finished breaking a sweat, it’s so easy to transition them into an everyday outfit by throwing on a denim jacket or cardigan, Davis adds. The best part about exercise dresses is that most of them have built-in shorts, bras, and pockets—a rare trio of attributes to find in women’s clothing.
On top of that, stretchy-yet-supportive compression fabric helps you feel secure in workouts of most intensities. “They work well for activities like yoga, Pilates, dance fitness, casual cardio workouts, outdoor activities, and low-impact exercises,” says Katie Corio, certified strength and conditioning specialist, fitness model, and owner of Corio Fit.
Our top picks
Temperatures are already climbing, so act fast to stay cool. Here are the best exercise dresses, recommended by experts and reviews.
The Exercise Dress
This dress gets the top spot because it’s not only a best-seller with rave reviews, but Corio loves it. In fact, she recommends all of Outdoor Voice’s exercise dresses, as they are “known for their comfort and versatility,” she says, adding that they’re lightweight, breathable, and allow for ease of movement. “They have stylish designs and come in various colors,” she continues. This one is the brand’s original style, featuring built-in shorts and straps that won’t dig in to your shoulders.
PowerSoft Sleeveless Shelf-Bra Support Dress
With over 2,300 ratings on Old Navy’s website and nearly five stars, this affordable exercise dress is a favorite among shoppers and we can see why. The loose fit and shelf bra are great for those looking for a less fitted option that still has support. “This is my favorite dress. I have it in multiple colors. It’s so easy to throw on and not have to worry about undergarments because they’re already built in,” writes one satisfied Old Navy customer. “I am 5’10” and weigh around 180 and I got the large. I usually need tall sizes but the regular length fits me fine as well in this dress.”
Athleta dresses are “highly regarded for their quality construction and durability,” says Corio, and they effortlessly blend functionality and style, which is why she recommends them. The Advantage Dress is a customer-favorite for its moisture-wicking fabric, ventilating mesh cutouts, and built-in shorts that feature zip-up pockets to keep belongings (like tennis balls!) secure. And if you tend to suffer from thigh chafing, you’ll appreciate that the shorts in this dress have grippers to keep them from riding up.
Tennis Dress with Shorts
Just as matching workout sets can get pricey, exercise dresses can, too. But this affordable one can check all the right boxes if you’re on a budget. It’s made of four-way stretch moisture-wicking fabric and features built-in shorts, pockets, and removable padding. “Very supportive. The straps are amazing,” one reviewer wrote.
Alosoft Courtside Tennis Dress
At first glance, this piece looks like a classic LBD. But it’s not! The built-in bra and shorts make it fit for your next spin class, tennis match, or hot girl walk. “I love the fabric and how it moves. It’s super flattering!” says Davis.
The ever-popular Align line at Lululemon has a dress that maintain’s the style’s good reputation. Corio recommends it for its “breathability and moisture-wicking properties,” as well as “thoughtful design details” like hidden pockets, optional removable cups, and an open-back waistband that makes the shorts easily detachable for simple bathroom visits.
Martina Rigor Dress
If you love the look of separates but are looking for an exercise dress, this one is perfect for those looking for a supportive bra built-in. “This one is form-fitting, soft, and very supportive,” says Davis. “It’s great if you want to show off your legs but still has some good length.”
Paloma Racerback Dress
By popular demand, Girlfriend Collective turned their best-selling sports bra into an exercise dress, and it was a brilliant idea. Whether you’re headed to the gym or on a grocery run, you can easily throw on this cute, comfortable dress and go without worrying about support or wardrobe malfunctions. “It easily could be dressed up or dressed down,” one reviewer wrote.
Spacedye Movement Dress
Although it’s nice for exercise dresses to have some level of compression and support, there has to be room for movement, too, and this dress hits the sweet spot in between. It’s ultra-soft, features a built-in bodysuit with pockets, and the flared skirt paired with its deep v-neckline sets it apart from other workout dresses. “This is my favorite workout dress I have ever owned! It is so soft, it fits like a dream, and the cut is adorable,” one reviewer raved.
Flex 2.0 Fitness Dress
It can be tricky to reinvent the wheel when it comes to exercise dresses, which results in many of them looking, well, the same. This one’s boxy neckline sets it apart and gives it a fashionable flair—and the unique color ways, including this burnt orange shade, help, too.
Yes, Pleats! Dress
A flirty loose-fitting option that doesn’t sacrifice support? Yes, pleats! (Sorry, we had to.) This is the first-ever active dress from Spanx and it has it all: stylish asymmetric pleating, hidden pockets, and a built-in smoothing bodysuit that features patent-pending Take Off Technology for easy shorts removal when nature calls. “Love everything about it,” a happy customer wrote.
One-Shoulder Traveler Mini Dress
Whether you’re jet-setting or taking off to spin class, this fashionable and comfortable dress can handle the occasion. It has a chic one-shoulder neckline with an optional add-on spaghetti strap and features built-in shorts with a hidden cell phone pocket. “This dress is perfect for everything summer! It’s so easy to throw on, the bodysuit slip underneath is so comfortable and supportive, and it’s so flattering,” a reviewer wrote.
The Do-It-All Tennis Dress
This A-line dress offers a looser, more casual fit and longer length than many on this list, which makes it a great transitional piece that wears easily from the gym to weekend plans. Believe it or not, it does feature a shelf bra and pockets, and the contrasting trim gives it a cute, retro vibe. “Every time I wear it, I get tons of compliments,” a shopper said.
Tennis Dress in Black Daisy
Looking for an exercise dress to wear for your weekly tennis match? This one is pricey but worth every penny. Terez is a favorite brand among Prevention editors (specifically, Senior Editor Emily Goldman). “The brand has the best buttery-soft, breathable fabric that is perfect for workout wear,” she says. This
How to choose the best exercise dress
Check for built-ins: After all, what sets workout dresses apart from regular ones is their support and coverage while you’re moving around. Having to wear layers like shorts and a bra underneath kind of defeats the purpose, so you’ll likely want one with those built in, Davis says.
Look for special features: The more adjustable and customized to fitness a dress is, the better. “I think having features like adjustable straps, internal grips [to prevent thigh chafing], and extra pockets gives support while still being practical,” Davis says.
Find one that suits you: “Choose a style that makes you feel confident and reflects your personal taste,” Corio recommends.
Benefits of an exercise dress
Exercise dresses “offer comfort, freedom of movement, and breathability,” explains Corio, especially during outdoor workouts, heated classes, or intense sessions that get particularly sweaty. They also are versatile staples to have in your workout wardrobe because they can easily make a cute outfit outside of the gym. In general, dresses are also easier to throw on and require less planning than multiple-piece outfits.
How we chose the best exercise dresses
We spoke with fitness experts Amy Rosoff Davis, celebrity fitness trainer and wellness coach and Katie Corio, certified strength and conditioning specialist, fitness model, and owner of Corio Fit for their input and exercise dress recommendations. We also consulted dozens of customer reviews to narrow down the best picks.
Why trust us
For more than 70 years, Prevention has been a leading provider of trustworthy health information, empowering readers with practical strategies to improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Our editors interview medical experts to help guide our health-focused product selections. Additionally, Prevention also examines hundreds of reviews—and often conducts personal testing done by our staff—to help you make informed decisions.
You Might Also Like