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I’ll admit it: I’m dress-obsessed. Whether it’s a casual kick-back with friends or a walk to Starbucks, you’ll usually spot me wearing some sort of sundress/shift dress/midi/maxi (I’ve gone through *all* the dress trends). And this summer? The exercise dress is everywhere. While these dresses appear to be reminiscent of the tennis dress of the 1980s—and I will admit they are to a certain extent)—they are unequivocally built for the modern-day woman. Dubbed as the dress that takes you from an exercise class to errands to drinks, I wanted to put these dresses to the test for YJ. Can you actually practice yoga in an exercise dress?
First, some quick history on my typical ensemble for a yoga practice. Whether I’m practicing in my backyard or at a studio class, I’m usually wearing a sports bra and leggings. Sometimes, I’ll wear a tank top. A few years ago, I had a disastrous experience wearing running shorts during a yoga class (ahem, chafing), and since then, I’ve only worn leggings—until now.
The Outdoor Voices Exercise Dress
I made my first mistake about a minute into my 30-minute yoga practice wearing this dress—I hadn’t adjusted my straps. As soon as I moved into Downward-Facing Dog Pose, I encountered a minor nip slip. Luckily, I was practicing alone (phew) and quickly regrouped—making the straps much tighter. I’m a medium-chested person, so I was comfortable practicing without a sports bra. While the dress doesn’t have a ton of built-in support, I felt comfortable throughout my entire practice. However, if you’re larger-chested, you may want to wear a sports bra under the dress.
See also: Best Sports Bra for Yoga
As I moved through my vinyasa practice (verging on hot yoga with the summer humidity), I was surprised to find the dress didn’t ride up at all. Like, at all. Even as I moved through multiple rounds of Sun Salutations, the Exercise Dress stayed in place—without making me feel constricted or uncomfortable. The built-in spandex certainly helped as well. Another plus? The addition of a pocket on the side of the spandex. While I was practicing at home this time, this would be a great perk if I was practicing in a public setting and wanted a spot to safely store keys, earbuds, or credit cards. $100; outdoorvoices.com
The Sweaty Betty Power Workout Dress
For consistency’s sake, I repeated the same 30-minute vinyasa yoga practice in the Sweaty Betty Power Workout Dress. (My middle school science teacher would be proud.) The fabric of this dress was thicker than that of the Outdoor Voices Exercise Dress. Its built-in sports bra underneath offered a ton of support and was equipped with padding (much like that of a bikini top). While the straps were not adjustable, they were tight on my shoulders, and I didn’t experience any slips. This dress was a bit longer on me than the Outdoor Voices Exercise Dress. I’m average height, 5 feet 5 inches tall, and this dress landed just a few inches above the knee. It also had a pocket—except on the outside of the dress versus inside.
When I moved through my practice, this dress stuck to my body—in a good way. I felt very secure as I moved through the poses. One of the things I appreciated about this dress was the way the straps felt on my shoulders. They were tight and supportive, without causing chaffing or irritation. Typically, my sports bras result in some irritation on my skin by the end of class, so I was surprised to find that I experienced none of that with this dress. $118; sweatybetty.com
As someone who loves hot yoga and outdoor yoga in the summer, these dresses fill a hole in my wardrobe that I didn’t even know existed. I sometimes get too hot wearing leggings—but am not keen on returning to shorts. These dresses allowed me to move through my practice seamlessly (I actually forgot I was product testing at certain points), and I didn’t overheat as much as I typically do in leggings. However, the best thing about practicing yoga in an exercise dress was the versatility. I could easily wear these to meet a friend for coffee after class or to run an errand without looking like I had just sweat through a yoga practice. Looking good and feeling good? Always a win-win.