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An exercise dress should have a permanent place in your carry-on. It’s a traveler’s best friend, thanks to its incredible versatility: fashionable enough to wear sightseeing, and functional enough to workout in. Supportive, sweat-wicking fabrics make them ideal for everything from running errands to running marathons, while handy functions like built-in shorts with hidden pockets allow you to discreetly keep essentials like your phone, passport, and keys on you at all times.
When researching the best exercise dresses, we looked for products that are comfortable enough for long travel days, and that feature convenient details like built-in shorts and pockets. Whether you’re looking for options with flattering compression fabric, one-shoulder designs, or maximum support for higher impact activities, we have an option for you
Outdoor Voices The Exercise Dress
The extra-deep side pockets, silky-soft feel, and body-skimming fit are part of why this dress earned our top pick.
The Outdoor Voices Exercise Dress is constantly in rotation in our travel wardrobe. We’ve relied on this dress for everything from sightseeing in Paris to picking grapes in an Italian vineyard. It has a flattering, body-skimming fit that offers support without ever feeling constricting. For more strenuous exercise, you may want to consider layering it with a sports bra for added support. Whether you’re sightseeing or setting out for a low-to-medium intensity workout, this dress is a breeze to throw on — the LightSpeed material offers plenty of stretch, so you’ll never have trouble getting in or out of the dress, even in the stickiest of climates.
The supple, stretchy fabric is so comfortable you’ll want to wear it every day — which you can, since it’s easily machine washable. Adjustable straps allow for a custom fit, while the built-in shorts feature two extra-deep side pockets that are designed to comfortably fit a smartphone and other travel essentials. Our favorite part is the grippy hemline, which ensures the shorts won’t ride up. The high-performance material is designed to help you move more freely and to wick away sweat, drying quickly so you can feel fresh all day long.
Price at time of publish: $100
The Details: XXS to 3XL | 85 percent nylon, 15 percent spandex
Best for Tennis
Outdoor Voices Court Dress
Tennis beginners and pros alike will love this feminine cut-out dress for use on and off the court. Crafted from Outdoor Voice’s four-way stretch Textured Compression material, it’s made to move with you as you flex your forehand or show off your serve — plus, the moisture-wicking material helps keep you cool during even the most heated games. The cut-outs pull double duty, creating a sleek silhouette that will help you stand out on the court while also allowing for maximum air flow while you work up a sweat. While it’s a great fit for tennis, it’s also ideal for any other low-impact activities where its sweat-wicking properties and two built-in shorts pockets could come in handy, like hiking or running errands. The on-trend cutouts could even be paired with some vibrant accessories and heeled sandals for an easy breezy night-out look. Note that while it’s available in three colors, many tennis clubs (and Wimbledon!) require an all-white dress code.
Price at time of publish: $108
The Details: XS to XL | Polyester and spandex
KuaCua Women’s Tennis Dress
Hailed as a more affordable duplicate of Outdoor Voices’ Exercise Dress, the KuaCua Workout Dress features a nearly identical silhouette at a fraction of the price. It’s fitted through the top and figure-skimming from the waist down, allowing for uninterrupted freedom of movement. Quick-drying performance fabric helps wick away sweat throughout the day, keeping you fresh enough to wear the dress from day to night. We love how this dress features a built-in bra with removable cups for added coverage, as well as built-in shorts to protect you from unwanted exposure and chafing. You can even leave your purse at home if you’re looking to go hands-free, as the shorts feature two pockets on either side for you to store your belongings. Available in 23 colors and a third of the cost of the Outdoor Voices dress, you may want to scoop up more than one.
Price at time of publish: $33
The Details: XS to 2XL | Nylon and spandex
L’Étoile Sport Zip Front Dress
Luxury activewear brand L’Étoile Sport designs some of the chicest tennis and golf apparel on the market, and this Sport Zip Front Dress is one of our favorites. Clean and classic, this timeless take on a retro-inspired design features figure-flattering navy trim and a summery yellow zipper. The zippered closure is made of sturdy hardware that pulls smoothly, allowing you to adjust the amount of neck coverage and air flow you’d like. Crafted from the brand’s signature Brazilian Lace fabric, the dress is lightweight and quick-drying. Even with the colorful accents, it’s still suitable for tennis-white dress codes — Wimbledon, here you come!
Price at time of publish: $245
The Details: XS to XL | Nylon and spandex
Girlfriend Collective Paloma Racerback Dress
Girlfriend Collective has made a name for itself as the leader in sustainable activewear thanks to its ReGirlfriend program, which allows shoppers to trade in their pre-loved Girlfriend Collective pieces for store credit, giving the old pieces a new life by recycling them. The Paloma Racerback Dress is also made from 79 percent recycled plastic bottles; each dress diverts 21 water bottles and 28 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, so you can feel as good about your purchase as you do in your dress. The figure-hugging dress features a built-in unitard layer for extra coverage and an elastic support band in the bust, plus built-in shorts with small pockets. Avoid throwing this one in the dryer, as it’s prone to shrinkage, and can already feel difficult to get on and off due to the strong elastic.
Price at time of publish: $88
The Details: XXS to 6XL | Recycled plastic bottles and spandex
Best Size Inclusive
Girlfriend Collective Tommy Dress
Girlfriend Collective stands out from other activewear brands for offering sizes ranging from XXS to 6XL. The Tommy Dress is recyclable and constructed from 79 percent recycled plastic bottles, making it a great choice for the planet and for your closet. We’re big fans of the square neckline, which adds a sexy LBD feel to this piece that will help you get even more wear out of it on your travels. The built-in unitard liner also features two small pockets on each side, so you can keep track of your keys and cards on the go.
Price at time of publish: $88
The Details: XXS to 6XL | Recycled plastic bottles and spandex
Best with Pockets
Sweaty Betty Womens Power Workout Dress
While the majority of exercise dresses we researched feature hidden interior pockets, few also offer exterior pockets. Sweaty Betty’s Power Workout Dress earned our top pick for exactly that reason, boasting a side pocket in the built-in shorts, and another in the exterior. The inner pocket is great for stashing your essentials close to your body, which offers peace of mind during a workout as well as when you’re traveling and want to be discreet about storing your valuables. The outer pocket provides easy access to anything you want to keep close at hand, be it your cell phone or tennis balls. Note that the inner shorts have a 5-inch inseam, which offers ample coverage and is longer than many of the other options on this list.
Price at time of publish: $118
The Details: XXS to 2XL | Polyamide elastane
GapFit Power Exercise Dress Power Exercise Dress
This stretchy and supportive dress feels like slipping into your favorite worn-in T-shirt. Made from a soft brushed jersey, this scoopneck dress is moisture-wicking and relatively quick drying, allowing you to stay sweat-free whether you’re running on the treadmill or through the airport. The back cutout is what really makes it stand out, offering additional airflow to keep you cool. We love that the tank straps offer ample support without digging into your shoulders. While the top isn’t adjustable because of the racerback design, the dress is available in regular, tall, and petite sizing, so it’s easy enough to find your perfect fit. Like with all our favorite picks, this dress also features inner shorts with a built-in pocket.
Price at time of publish: $70
The Details: Regular: XXS to 2XL; Tall: S to XL; Petite: XS to L | Recycled polyester and spandex
Athleta Levitate Dress
When we arrive at a new destination, we can’t stand wasting time ironing or steaming clothes that got mussed up in transit. We’re always eager to hit the ground running (literally and figuratively), so wrinkle-resistant material is a huge perk. The Athleta Levitate Dress is made from the brand’s unique SwiftLite fabric, which is super packable and designed to release wrinkles when aired out. It’s cooling and compressing at the same time, keeping you sweat-free during medium and high-impact workouts. The best part of this fit-and-flare dress is that it boasts the highest degree of sun protection, with a UPF rating of 50+ (but you should still apply sunscreen for additional UV coverage). Side pockets offer space for storing tennis or golf balls, making this a convenient and ultra-comfortable pick for whatever workout or recreational activity you have in store.
Price at time of publish: $99
The Details: XXS to 3XL | Nylon and lycra
Best with Shorts
Willit Women’s Exercise Dress with Detachable Shorts
Most exercise dresses come with shorts, which is a big plus in terms of coverage but a nuisance when it comes to using the restroom. Willit’s Exercise Dress solves this problem with detachable shorts — they’re essentially just a matching pair of spandex shorts you can opt to wear beneath your dress or not. The dress and shorts are crafted from a super-stretchy fabric that’s cool to the touch, with quick dry and moisture-wicking properties to help you feel comfortable and confident all day long. We love that it’s one of the more affordable options as well — we just wish it came in a wider range of sizes.
Price at time of publish: $36
The Details: XS to XL | Nylon and spandex
Best One Shoulder
Halara In My Feels Everyday One Shoulder Activity Dress
You’ve probably seen ads for Halara’s exercise dresses all over your Instagram — the popular brand makes similar styles to brands like Outdoor Voices and Girlfriend Collective, but at a more affordable price point. The In My Feels Everyday One Shoulder Activity Dress is made from a breathable, sweat-wicking blend of polyester and elastane, which keeps you cool on the go and offers ample stretch. We love the one shoulder design for a versatile summer look, as it’s one of the easiest to dress up for a night out. It also offers solid support, with removable pads for a custom fit. Just note that the shorts are separate, so you can decide whether or not to wear them for added coverage.
Price at time of publish: $58
The Details: XS to XL | Polyester and elastane
Best Halter Neck
Viandso Women’s Sports Tennis Dress
While technically athleisure, the flirty cut and vibrant colors of this dress make it elegant enough to wear out on date night or around for a long day of sightseeing. This is another option with detachable shorts (with storage pockets, of course), so you’re able to choose your preferred coverage — you could even swap them out for shapewear or another pair of your favorite spandex. While we wish the halter was adjustable for a more custom fit, it does provide a fair amount of support for recreational all-day wear. The dress is available in seven summery colors, from classic white to mint green, which makes it a great vacation staple. Note that it is hand wash only, and the fit can be tighter in the waist depending on your body type.
Price at time of publish: $37
The Details: S to 2XL | Polyester and spandex
Pact The Studio Athleisure Dress
The Pact Studio Athleisure Dress is another Outdoor Voices lookalike that’s available at a lower price point. The primary difference is that this option is made from organic GOTS-certified cotton, which helps to save 40 gallons of water and offsets 15 pounds of CO2 per dress. We love the super soft cotton, which stands out for its everyday feel as opposed to the swimsuit-like texture of many other exercise dresses. Note that while it’s incredibly comfortable, it does offer less stretch than synthetic fabrics. It features a built-in bodysuit with compressive bike shorts, which are equipped with two side pockets for added convenience. The adjustable straps and feminine front hem slit are just two more reasons why we adore this dress for frequent use. Pair it with a baseball hat and tennis sneakers for a walk, or slip on some wedge sandals and a cute cardigan for date night.
Price at time of publish: $58
The Details: XS to 2XL | Organic cotton
Tips for Buying Exercise Dresses
Get creative with how you style it
While you’ll likely want to keep things as minimalist as possible while working out, it’s easy to elevate an exercise dress for everyday use. Pair it with a denim jacket and sneakers for a breezy, comfortable look that’ll take you from a morning of market shopping to an afternoon of museum visits, or opt to wear it with your favorite jewelry and some heeled sandals for an evening look.
Find the right balance between comfort and style
If you’re looking for a dress to take you from morning yoga to a night of dancing, you’ll want to prioritize something that’s equally flattering and functional. Anything too tight may feel constricting after a while, but too relaxed of a fit may not be practical for a workout. Look for options that feature ample amounts of stretch and handy features like pockets. It’s up to you if you want to lean more sporty (racerbacks are great for that), or more standard (spaghetti and tank straps look more convincingly like a non-activewear dress).
Consider the material
Lightweight, quick-drying materials that wick away sweat and repel odors are crucial for exercise dresses you’ll actually feel comfortable wearing for extended periods of time, like on all-day walking tours. Materials like nylon, spandex, lycra, or recycled plastic are some of the most common, as they’re super stretchy and typically machine washable. Avoid fabrics that are dry clean only to save yourself unnecessary hassle.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you wash an exercise dress?
Most exercise dresses are machine washable, as they’re designed to be worn for active use and should be washed as frequently as your other workout clothes in order to minimize any odor buildup or sweat stains. Still, be sure to check the care instructions on your particular item before washing. While some exercise dresses can be tossed in the dryer, others require hang drying — and in general, it will help preserve their elasticity to air dry them.
When should you wear an exercise dress?
Whenever you want! Exercise dresses are a comfortable and convenient choice for everyday and active use. They’re designed to look like a summery dress but function as activewear does, and typically feature pockets for easy hands-free storage. They’re usually designed with quick-drying, moisture-wicking material that offers four-way stretch to keep you cool and cozy all day long, whether you’re sightseeing or training. While they look great as a part of your daily wardrobe, they are still a form of activewear, meaning they’re likely too casual for any event or venue with formal dress codes.
What do you wear under an exercise dress?
What you decide to wear under an exercise dress is a matter of personal preference. Unlike standard dresses, they are usually designed with built-in shorts or a romper, so you’re already covered when it comes to unwanted exposure. The built-ins rarely include underwear lining though, so you may want to add underwear as well. For dresses that don’t have built-ins, you can opt to wear spandex shorts beneath them for added coverage.
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
For this story, T+L contributor Sophie Dodd researched an extensive variety of exercise dresses, testing some herself and combing through customer reviews for deeper insight into others. She used her expertise as a full-time traveler, frequent runner, and commerce writer to select the most versatile and flattering exercise dresses on the market, focusing on options with built-in pockets and ample support.
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