It’s hard to miss the exercise dresses trending all over TikTok. Comfortable, flirty and fun, these appear to take you from the gym to brunch and beyond. And while dresses in the athletic arena are nothing new — hello, Serena Williams! — they are now stretching beyond the court and taking us through hiking, running, grocery shopping and more.
Here, we spoke with fitness experts about their top picks for exercise dresses.
This workout dress is flattering and comfortable for any outdoor activity, as it is breathable and moves with your body, says Sandra Gail Frayna, founder of Hudson Premier Physical Therapy & Sports
. “It can be worn on hikes, running to the grocery store, etc. and still be comfortable and cute,” she says.
While Michelle Levy, the CEO and founder of Zing! for Kids
, is obsessed with all of Athleta's dresses and rompers, this one tops her list for running, walking, traveling, hiking and just hanging out. She says it's simple, can be dressed up or down, and most of all, it’s functional. Plus, you'll benefit from their petite options if you’re on the shorter side like Levy. “Most dresses tend to overwhelm my small frame, and this fits just right,” she shares. “You want to feel comfortable, and you won't if the dress doesn't fall properly on your frame." It’s also worth mentioning that this bestseller is lightweight and quick-drying, and offers UPF 50+ sun protection.
Whether you’re walking around town or playing tennis, this super-soft dress with built-in shorts and hidden pockets is a smart investment, says Nikki Gnozzio, a personal trainer and the founder of The Junction Bodyworks
. Comfortable and easy to wear, it’s a good pick for people who choose walking as their exercise. However, it might not be well-suited for, say, a boot camp full of burpees. “Because it’s a single strap, I wouldn’t recommend any overly strenuous cardio activities in this, as one side may roll down a bit,” Gnozzio says. “But for low-impact outdoor activities, this is a great choice.”
$89 $44.50 at Prana
You'll love this dress as a little wardrobe upgrade if you’ve been going on hot girl walks this summer. It has soft yet durable fabric and is complimentary for workouts, says Sabrina Washington, a CorePower Yoga
instructor in Sacramento, California. “It also comes in adorable colors and patterns, so you can make a fashion statement, she raves. “Best of all, it has pockets!
The chic style and functional fit are why Stephanie Butterfield-Richardson, the founder of Activate House
, keeps reaching for this dress on days she has an outdoor workout planned. She loves the racerback, collar and button-up front, which she says is flattering on all body shapes. “I like to pair this dress with Alo shorts, tennis shoes and an oversized button-down shirt, making this dress easy to run errands in or grab a juice after an outdoor activity,” she says.
There’s much to love about this unique dress, according to Sarah Steele, the founder of SteeleSculpt
: the V neckline, the crossed straps in the back and imitation corset detail around the waist. It’s perfect for wearing all day, any day. “I love how the white colorway leans heavily into the tennis vibes too,” she says. “Because of its lower-cut neckline, I probably wouldn’t wear this for a hard-hitting workout, though. Reserve this one for less intense activities while you’re out and about.”
When you’re out and about checking items off your errand run list, you need to be able to move with ease. That’s why it’s important to have side pockets in the inner shorts of an exercise dress, says Jilliann Schembri, the founder and CEO of Wear One’s At
. “With pockets, you can store things like headphones, keys and money all get to be on the body while your hands are free,” she says. This pick from Addison Bay stays put with a square neckline and built-in undershorts that hide a much-needed pocket.
Butterfield-Richardson says this bestseller from Nike is her hands-down favorite exercise dress to run in. As she explains, when she’s running, she wants to feel comfortable and have confidence that nothing is going to spill out. In addition to being made of sustainable materials that help battle sweat, her favorite feature is the built-in shorts with pockets. “I'm able to carry a car key or slip my phone into the pockets if needed,” she continues. “Plus, it has a bodysuit feel and hugs your body, yet feels breathable and flexible.”
When you’re going for a run, Schembri says you want to look for something lightweight with minimal seaming. “You want something in a fabric that is stretchy and light, with the likelihood to chafe you as being slim as possible,” she says. Regardless of whether you are on your period or not, you’ll appreciate the moisture-wicking and soft feel of this skort from Knix.
If you’re a long-distance runner who cares about clothing that can take you from start to finish, Levy gives the ultimate seal of approval: she ran the New York City Marathon in these, so she can attest they hold up for miles. “The shorts stay down, preventing chafing on my thighs, and the skort has a tie around the waist, so I can adjust the skort to make sure it sits tight on my body without adjusting mid-run,” she says.
“The key to a great hiking dress is making sure the shorts are built in,” Schembri says. “Sometimes shorts come separately, and having the built-in feature keeps everything close to the body and provides coverage of the torso inside the garment.”
Steele says a classic racerback cut is a trendy exercise dress style, but this Sweaty Betty iteration has exterior pockets, a full interior bodysuit, bra, and shorts with their own little side pocket. Not only is it just about perfect for stashing snacks for your hike, but the curved seams in the front also look super flattering.
Made with buttery soft, compressive material that still performs and moves with you, Frayna recommends these for your next nature adventures. “This is a good option for a hike as it has pockets for your valuables, is comfortable and will fit like a glove while still looking good on,” she says.
Steele says the one-shoulder look from Outdoor Voices (one of our favorite places for exercise dresses
) is so cute for a post-brunch hiking stroll, and the built-in shorts make it practical, too. “This particular one is definitely a multi-purpose purchase — I can see myself wearing this to lunch, coffee with my friends or happy hour, too,” she says.
Washington says large pockets are ideal for any dress, but especially for a workout dress. And maybe even more so when you’re hiking. Rather than carrying a backpack, you can use the built-in (and zippered!) pockets of this dress to hold your keys, phone, wallet, hair ties — maybe even some snacks.
For any hiking, Butterfield-Richardson goes for a lightweight dress with medium support. “Because weather can change quickly with the altitude while hiking, I prefer a double-layered dress with a racerback to support the chest and built-in shorts,” she says. The best one she’s found that checks all of her boxes? The Bella Ecomove Active Dress that she says has the perfect mix of comfort and style and flexibility.
Gnozzio says this lightweight dress has adjustable straps and built-in shorts and pockets, which is always a bonus for your phone or other immediate needs on a hike. "The length of this dress isn’t too short that it’s uncomfortable when hiking, but not too long that it gets in the way as you go up different terrains,” she says. “It’s also nice that this exercise dress comes in quite a few colors and patterns, so if there are some scenic photo opportunities on your hike, you’ll be dressed for it.”
$75 $40.83 at REI
If you’re going a trip where you’ll be scaling different mountains and battling different terrains, Levy says to choose this lightweight and wrinkle-resistant dress. “You can just roll it up, pack it up, wear it and go. What stands out to me is that the dress is both functional and fashionable,” she raves. It has three front zippered pockets so she can store a snack bar and other things while on the move, and the drawstring keeps the dress in check when moving around.
Frayna says this is the must-have dress from Lululemon if you’re going to be putting your body to the test during a workout. Like the company's leggings, it's made with the fastest-drying and sweat-wicking fabric, yet it is still breathable. “Plus, it is very supportive for any sport or activity,” she adds.
Another fan favorite from Lululemon, Levy says not only is this dress super cute, but it also has solid coverage and other features that make it ideal for high-intensity, sweat-producing activities. “While it's designed for tennis, I do love it for a walk on a hot day, errands or other things that get me worked up,” she says. “I can trust that this material will stay put and keep me cool, no matter how hot I get. After a good sweat or being out on a hot day, this dress is a winner.”
From teaching classes to running errands around a very humid DC, Steel says this exercise dress has endured every test she’s put it through. “The back cut-out makes it very unique, and I’ve gotten a bunch of compliments on the bold color.” Most importantly, the shorts are compressive, and the bra band elastic in the back is wide, giving it the support you need for sweaty activities.
When you’re looking for an exercise dress that won’t make you overheat, Schembri says lightweight and/or mesh material is key. This helps with airflow throughout the garment. This dress from Stoic has performance material that wicks away moisture and mesh panels that help you battle sweat, too.
Another factor to consider when working out is how much you will sweat. Washington says certain colors show sweat more than others, so if you know you’re going to sweat a lot during a workout — hello, hot yoga studios! — she says to opt for bold patterns or dark colors like black, charcoal or navy. “Also, keep your clothing’s material in mind. Sweat-resistant materials like polyester and nylon that absorb sweat quickly and help prevent odor-causing bacteria growth are ideal,” she says.
To start, Gnozzio says the high neck allows for full coverage along with a supportive built-in bra. “Beyond Yoga has done a great job with the fabric of this product as well,” she continues. “The fabric is soft and cooling, allowing less sweat from the start and allowing your body room to breathe without being too clingy.” Don’t forget, this fabric also gives you UV protection, which could be the peace of mind you need when running or sweating outdoors.