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This breathable and lightweight 'freezer dress' helps me beat the heat

Plus, it's wrinkle-free!
Katie Jackson wearing a freezer dress from Amazon
TODAY Illustration / Courtesy Katie Jackson

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When it comes to clothes, I’m a sucker for the word “cooling.” A couple summers ago, I discovered a bestselling cooling bra from Soma Intimates and said goodbye to boob sweat. This summer, I decided to try Columbia’s cooling and bestselling PFG Freezer Dress.

I noticed it retailed for $50 (some colors are even cheaper) and had racked up some rave reviews on Amazon. Still, I had more questions than answers when I ordered it. First, would it need to be stored in the freezer? Second, what does PFG stand for, and would it be chic enough to be my go-to LBD? Most importantly, would it really keep me cool during a sweltering summer heat wave?

Columbia Freezer III Dress

No freezer required

I can’t tell if I’m disappointed or relieved that this dress doesn’t need to be stored in the freezer. However, I do know that I love how the fabric — a polyester-elastane mix — doesn’t crease. I don’t need to worry about hanging this dress up or traveling with a dress bag. In fact, I can just roll it up and forget about it until I want to wear it, wrinkle-free.

The reason it’s called the “Freezer” is because it features Columbia’s "Omni-Freeze ZERO" fabric. This YouTube video does a good job of explaining how this “sweat-activated cooling technology” works to lower the overall temperature of the fabric. In my own unofficial words, there’s a secret cooling agent working behind the seams.

From PFG to LBD

Katie Jackson

If athleisure and cocktail attire had a baby, it would be this dress. It’s part of Columbia’s PFG (Performance Fishing Gear) collection, but since I ordered it in black, it also functions as my go-to LBD.

If I can only pack one dress on a trip, it’s going to be the one I can wear the most. For example, I spend most of my summer weekends outdoors in Bozeman, Montana. I pack this dress because I can seamlessly transition from fly fishing in a river to people-watching on the outdoor patio at a trendy hotel. It’s the unicorn of dresses that can be worn on the tennis court and in the courtroom (hopefully for jury duty, not as a defendant).

It's both flattering and flirty

Katie Jackson

While I love the elegant length of my favorite floor-sweeping maxi dress, I also appreciate the shorter length of this one since it's equal parts flattering and flirty. The hemline hits me just a couple inches above the knee. It’s short enough that I can feel the breeze on my legs but long enough that I’m not constantly tugging it down back over my bottom.

Overall, I’m really impressed with the fit, and I think that’s a huge factor for the almost 1,500 reviewers who gave it an overall 4.4-star rating. I’m pretty trim, but one reviewer who uses words like “lumpy and saggy” to describe her body writes that when she’s wearing this dress, she feels “stunning.” If that isn’t a ringing endorsement, then I don’t know what is.

Finally, it keeps me cool

Katie Jackson

What I do know is that I feel fresh in this dress. The fabric isn’t necessarily freezing to the touch, but it definitely doesn’t trap heat or humidity the way other fabrics do. Furthermore, I got this dress in black, perhaps the “hottest” of the available colors and prints this dress comes in. Even in black, it’s so breathable and lightweight that it feels like a slip. Still, it acts like armor. In addition to being cooling, the high-tech fabric boasts UPF 30 sun protection that blocks harmful UVA and UVB rays.

However, that’s not to say I don’t wear this dress indoors. In fact, I recently wore it while traveling for over 20 hours on a trip from Montana to Portugal. I usually wear something super comfortable on long flights, but I’m finding I’m just as comfortable in this dress as I am in pajamas. Plus, I have more self-confidence going through security knowing I look like I just rocked the boardroom instead of just rolled out of bed.

Of course, the main reason I bought this dress was to see if it would keep me from combusting on triple-digit days — and it does. The fact that I also love how it looks and fits is just the icing, or should I say “ice,” on the cooling cake.

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This article was originally published on July 28, 2020.