We Sweat-Tested the Viral Exercise Dress the Internet Is Obsessed With

If you find yourself on the fashion side of TikTok, there are a number of viral clothing items that have definitely surfaced on your feed. Abercrombie’s drop-waist dressWolford’s celeb-approved Fatale dress, and too many Amazon buys to count are just a few of the internet-famous items on our radars. This summer, TikTok exploded with videos styling another mega-popular buy: the Outdoor Voices exercise dress. The fan-favorite dress was originally introduced in 2018, so while it’s hardly new, its influence has never been greater than it is now. Videos abound on TikTok of people reviewing the dress, styling it to go on their hot girl walks or gushing about the latest prints and colors.

As style people, we were curious to see what all the hype was about. A few of our editors got together to do what we do best and test-drive the exercise dresses for ourselves. We tried out four silhouettes that the dress comes in—the one-shoulder, the cross-back, the cutout Court dress, and, of course, the original exercise dress—and put them to the sweat test during our regularly scheduled Peloton rides and outdoor runs. 

Right off the bat, I was pleasantly surprised with how lightweight and smooth the fabric of the dress is. I took it for a spin on a recent five-mile run and was pleasantly surprised with how well it held up. It features built-in shorts with interior grips that ensure they don’t ride up (a big plus), but there’s no built-in bra, so I had to wear a sports bra underneath mine (a minus). I also wore it running errands on a different day and opted to skip the extra bra, so I’d say it’s all about how intensely you expect to be moving. Overall, I loved the dress as a cute outfit to run errands in or meet friends for coffee. For those contexts, I give it a 10/10, but for a run or a similarly sweaty workout, I’d bump off a few points for lack of support and and give it a 7/10. 

“Ever since I tried my first exercise dress, I was hooked. I love how comfortable and sporty they look. Whenever I put one on and walk around the city, I feel like I look like I just left a tennis match and am running to my imaginary Upper East Side brownstone. I found that this exercise dress in particular was really flattering, and the fabric was soft and lightweight. While I probably wouldn’t wear this dress to actually work out in since I only do Pilates and think the skirt would get in the way, this dress is officially the first thing I reach for when going on a hot girl walk.” — Grace O’Connell-Joshua, assistant shopping editor

“I love to watch tennis, but I’m a terrible player. Hence I’ve always been intimated by official tennis clothes. I’ve heard so much about these dresses just by word of mouth, so I knew there had to be something behind them. The one-shoulder version is like the intersection of functionality and style, so even though I’ll likely be wearing this to brunch versus on a tennis court, I totally could if I wanted to. I wore it as a dress, but I feel like I could even wear it layered over jeans or underneath trousers to function as a top.” — Indya Brown, market editor

“I really love this dress. I went on a walk and carried some heavy groceries wearing it, and I can attest that it holds up. It’s the perfect dress for a chill Saturday where you plan on being semi-active. I probably wouldn’t wear this on a high-intensity workout since I would need a bit more chest support, but it’s great for a day-to-day active lifestyle.” — Katie Berohn, associate beauty editor

“This dress is so cute—I love the square-neck design and the crisscross open-back design. It’s definitely something I’d wear while out on a summer day with friends because it’s so easy and comfortable to wear. But when I tried it on, I was a bit skeptical about how it would hold up during workouts. Would it be supportive? Would I feel completely weirded out that I was wearing a dress during exercise? Well, my worries were definitely squashed because it was actually really great to work out in—I tried it while riding my Peloton bike. The built-in shorts made things super comfortable, and the open-back and skirt kept things breezy. I thought the top part had good enough support for me, but if you have a bigger bust, you might want to opt for an Outdoor Voices dress with a shelf bra.” — Sarah Yang, former managing editor, The/Thirty

“I would actually wear this dress to work out. It’s supportive and easy to move in, and it feels a little more functional than the one-shoulder option for higher-intensity workouts, IMO. I might take this for a test-drive on the next race I run. I have faith it would hold up!” — Berohn

Up next, the eight fall trends my fashion colleagues will be politely declining.

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