Wearing a dress to workout didn't sound reasonable until the exercise dress trend took off during the pandemic. And now, it's still considered the new normal, much like how we've made everything athleisure — from leggings to biker shorts — part of our everyday wardrobe, whether we plan on hitting the gym or not.
With summer in full swing, we think the exercise dress is about to enjoy another revival. Plenty of retailers are releasing new designs in vibrant colors and bright patterns that feel just right for the season.
It's a trend that the fashion pros have gotten behind, too. Style expert Melissa Garcia previously stopped by TODAY to share all of the easy ways you can style the trend she called the "perfect blend of comfy casual and sleek elevation."
Shop TODAY also spoke with other style experts for more insight on the exercise dress trend.
What is the exercise dress trend?
"I am a huge fan of exercise dresses," said style expert Brittney Levine. Not only are they comfortable, but they flatter a range of different body types, she said.
Stylist Samantha Brown added that finding a good pair of shorts can often be a challenge for women, because many don't offer the right amount of coverage or can ride up in uncomfortable ways. An exercise dress can be a stylish warm-weather alternative. "They’re really easy and convenient and there’s not a lot of thought you have to put into the look," she said. "It’s not a matter of matching up a skirt and a bottom." You can wear it directly from a workout class to a coffee date or you can throw it on before heading out the door to pick up the kids from school or run errands.
To style, Levine suggests throwing on a light jacket, like a white or classic blue denim option or a sporty zip-up. To complete the simple yet chic look, she recommends slipping on a pair of slides, like Birkenstocks or even those pillow sandals that are everywhere right now.
Below are trendy options that you can wear just about anywhere.
Exercise dresses formerly seen on TODAY
Garcia says this dress "started it all," and credits Outdoor Voices for starting the exercise dress trend. It has over 4,000 rave reviews from shoppers who love its comfortable features such as the adjustable straps, biker shorts underneath that have pockets and the moisture-wicking material. She recommends pairing it with a white sneaker and a chic belt bag.
Reformation's exercise dress features a fitted bodice and a relaxed skirt, which makes for a dress that can complement any figure. The dress itself is made from recycled plastic bottles, so you can feel as good about adding it to your cart as you'll look in the dress. Garcia styled it with a button-down tied around the waist for an elevated feel, but the top can also come in handy on those chilly days.
Garcia says Halara's dress is a great way to get in on the trend without breaking the bank. It comes in several different colors and sizes XS-4X. Style it with a baseball cap to top off the sporty look.
An affordable option from Amazon, this exercise dress comes in 6 different colors that cover all of the basics. Plus, it has pockets! We're pretty much sold on that fact alone, but we also love that it's a top seller with more than 300 verified five-star ratings. A cropped hoodie can turn an exercise dress into a bonfire staple since it is an easy layer to remove. This way, it's almost like two outfits in one — take off the hoodie to wear the dress alone or throw it on to make it look like you're wearing a top and a skirt.
This dress from Old Navy comes in petite, tall and regular sizes to help better match your frame. It’s made with a moisture-wicking technology that helps keep you dry all day long. Plus, you won’t need to put on a bra, because the dress already has one built in. This pick is selling out fast, but you can still grab sizes in the shades Dried Rose and White Lilies.
Top-rated exercise dresses
This affordable option is on sale for 50% off right now, so you can snag it for less than $35. Underneath the polyester outer, there is a built-in biker short lining that has pockets to hold your credit cards or phone while you're on the go.
Brown said that you can find some good options at Athleta. This dress, for example, is perfect for wearing during low-impact workouts or at the yoga studio. The loose silhouette also makes it easy to jump in and out of on busy days.
This exercise dress stands out due to its bow, which serves a dual purpose: size adjustment and style. Available in six pastel and neutral colors, this backless dress will make heads turn everywhere — from the ballet studio to the grocery store.
Aerie is another TikTok-favorite brand, and its exercise dress has gotten some love on the app. It's made from a super-soft nylon material and has adjustable straps and a stylish open-back design.
This sleeveless workout dress is currently the second-bestselling women's activewear dress on Amazon. You can choose between 27 different colors and patterns, including three variations of pink. It's a slim fit, so the brand recommends sizing up if you want a looser feel.
"If athleisure and cocktail attire had a baby, it would be this dress," wrote one Shop TODAY writer. The stylish piece of activewear is made with advanced cooling technology and sweat-wicking material, so you stay cool and dry all day long.
With a popping collar and bright zipper, this tennis dress is classy and stylish for events on and off the court. It has two different-sized pockets — the left is big enough for tennis balls and the right is perfect to tuck your phone into, according to the brand.
You can also grab this option from Nike, which has a built-in inner bodysuit that holds you in but still allows you plenty of freedom to move, whether you're on a walk or a run. There are a handful of color options to choose from; plus, it's made with at least 50 percent recycled materials.
For a sustainable and fashionable take on the trend, look no further than Girlfriend Collective’s Paloma Racerback Dress. Inspired by the brand's best selling bra, this racerback dress is complete with pockets and a fit that both contours and lengthens your body, the brand says. You would never guess that the dress is made from 79% recycled water bottles.
From the same brand as the exercise dress that started it all, this one shoulder dress is not only stylish but also sweat-wicking and quick-drying, according to Outdoor Voices. "I love this dress," one reviewer wrote. "It's perfect for date night to dancing all night! [I]t's comfortable, cute, and breathable!"
Whether you're hiking or lounging, this dress is up for the challenge. It's made from a blend of nylon and spandex that will help keep you cool and comfortable throughout the day and is available in sizes XS-6X in four different colors.
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- Target’s latest fashion collab is here — and we have a feeling it’s going to sell out fast