It seems like everywhere you look right now, every brand has come out with an “athletic dress” of sorts. Before they got so popular I thought these were cute but not for m. Because let’s face it, I do not play tennis, there is nowhere to go on a hike in Chicago, and I am not typically engaging in sporty extracurriculars which would call for a tennis dress.
However, somewhere along the way (thankfully), they caught on mainstream and now fall into what I’d consider the “athleisure” category. Which made me realize, actually, these ARE the perfect dresses for my everyday activities–neighborhood walks, running around with June, grabbing coffee with a girlfriend, etc!
Are these the nap dress of 2022? They might be! I’m obsessed.
The question is–who makes the best one? Well, I’ve ordered and tried on five, and here’s where they all netted out. I really think it depends on what you’re looking for personally, your body type, and the activities you plan to do in your dress! Here are my criteria:
- Not too short, not too tight (I’m 5’6 for height reference)
- Has a built in bra
- Easy to pee in (if they have the built in bike shorts, has to be easy to pull down romper-style)
- Comfortable, of course
So let’s see how they measured up!
5 athletic dresses reviewed
Abercrombie spaghetti strap athletic dress: $70
As you know, I am a HUGE fan of Abercrombie, and I’ve been on a kick of theirs lately. Overall though, the two Abercrombie athletic dresses fell short–literally–for me personally. However, I do think they’re adorable, well made. And may be perfect for you depending on your body type and what you’re looking for.
Who this will be great for: Someone who is shorter than I am, wants a tighter, shorter fit. And also someone who doesn’t want or care about a built-in bra.
My thoughts: This dress is darling. I love the colors it comes in, I love the lightweight athletic material. But it’s not for me personally. It made me feel like the scene in clueless. 😂 Too tight and too short for this almost 34 year old. However, I think that the tightness issue would’ve been solved had I ordered the next size up. And had I ordered the “tall” even though I’m 5’6 and never wear “tall”–I think this would’ve been a length I was comfortable with in the tall sizing. (I’m wearing a small, I would be interested to try a medium). However, the reason I did not exchange it for a larger size was because it doesn’t have a built-in bra. Which is a mandatory for me out of convenience and comfort.
Easy to get on/off: One person commented that it was hard to get this dress on and off to pee which I don’t find to be true for me personally!
Alternatives: The Outdoor Voices version. This one has not one but two pockets on the bike shorts. And honestly looks like the perfect dress, just not for me due to the fact that it doesn’t have the built-in bra! If that’s not important to you though, definitely look into this one!
Abercrombie one-shoulder athletic dress: $70
Okay, same exact comments as above, so scroll up for reference. I also think the combination of the one-shoulder and the color made it look like a tinker bell costume on me. 😂 Again, had it had a built-in bra, which is a non-negotiable for me, I totally would’ve ordered it in black, a size medium as opposed to a small, and probably gotten the tall version so it wasn’t quite so short. (Again, personal preference!) Because I love the design and the lightweight moisture-wicking material!
Another option: If you love the one-shoulder look, Amazon also makes a one-shoulder version that does come with a built-in bra, and the fit looks a bit more relaxed!
Amazon athletic dress: $34
Overall I think that this dress would be a decent option in one size up and a dark color. Many of you have mentioned you love this dress and I’m convinced it’s because you sized up and because you got a dark color!
While this is a fantastic price point, it does have some issues that make it look/feel cheap. The seams are very visible through the fabric, I think that the straps look and feel cheaper than its counterparts. It’s too tight and too short. Again, I think these things would all be solved had I gone with a medium instead of a small, and I think they’re emphasized in the light colored material, but I returned!
I did love that it had a built-in bra, with little slits for cups, however it didn’t come with cups. 🧐 I really liked that the bike shorts have a cell phone pocket, however, the bike shorts are see through and my dark underwear is very visible through the shorts (not the dress as a whole, but if you lift the dress up to access the pocket, you might flash someone through your see through shorts).
Other (perhaps better?) options: I actually just saw this one that has better reviews! It has more of a flare in the skirt which could be cute, and worth trying! I may end up ordering that one because curiosity always gets the best of me! I’ll keep you posted if I do! Also, if you’re open to a thicker halter strap, this one also has very good reviews!
Old Navy Athletic Dress: $39 (on sale!)
This one is my personal everyday winner! 🙌🏼 It’s very comfortable, it has a built in bra, it’s not too tight, not too short! It does not have built-in bike shorts, but I actually think that makes it much easier to pee in, so that doesn’t bother me at all and I just wear my own bike shorts underneath! (Specifically I usually wear this white Alo pair with it but other colors work too!) Because it doesn’t have bike shorts, it’s actually the coolest temperature-wise out of the bunch because there’s a lot more airflow vs. it being like a unitard underneath. I have now worn both this one and the below in hot weather and can confirm this one is cooler for that reason.
Sizing is TTS, I’m wearing small. It’s a much more relaxed in fit than the other dresses here. It’s also an amazing price but its selling out fast so if you see your size in a color you love, snap it up!
Also consider: This Old Navy version with a square neckline and thicker tank straps, which is also so cute!
Beyond Yoga SpaceDye athletic dress: $99
I think this wins best athletic dress for ACTUAL athletic activities. 😂 It’s the sportiest in fit and provides the most support/compression. If you want to feel “sucked in” this is the dress for you. (Which is the opposite of the Old Navy dress). It has a bra that is lined (but no cups, or slits for cups–but I think you can easily just pop some cups in there if you’d like!) I love the criss-cross straps. It’s more formfitting than the old navy one and a bit shorter but still a length I’m comfortable with–not as short as the first three dresses.
Note that it’s not a solid black, it’s a space-dye/heathered type of black, which adds to the sportier feel. IF I played tennis, this would be the dress I’d want to play in! Shout out to my friend Sam for turning me onto this one!
Sizing: I’m in a small, which is my regular size but if it were any smaller it would be too small. If you want it pretty supportive go with your regular size but if you want it more comfy/roomier, go up a size. The small isn’t so tight that I’m uncomfortable in it though. In fact I wore it to daycare drop-off this morning and on my morning walk!
When to wear an athletic dress:
- to play tennis or another outdoor activity
- as an exercise dress or light workout dress
- on a walk with a friend or your s/o
- out to lunch, brunch, or coffee with the girls
- running errands or grocery shopping
- to an amusement park, Farmer’s Market, or Spring Fling Festival
How to style an athletic dress:
- less is more, especially when it comes to brighter colored sports dresses
- if you need more coverage, add layers
- throw on a sweater, a cozy cardigan, a jean jacket, etc.
- add a ball cap to lean into the athletic look
- opt for sneakers