I tested exercise dresses from top sustainable brands for style, performance, and fit — here are my favorites with notes from each wear.

When Serena Williams wore a denim skirt to the 2004 US Open, she changed the game for what it meant to “dress like an athlete.” While I won’t be showing up to my next group exercise class in a jean skirt, I do find myself drawn to pieces that blend both fashion and function. Enter the exercise dress. They’ve been commonplace for decades in tennis and golf, but now we’re seeing them everywhere from yoga sessions and gym workouts to coffee runs and hot girl walks. And with the rise of tenniscore (thanks, “Challengers”), exercise dresses are in all over again.

The best exercise dresses are comfortable, convenient, and surprisingly supportive. A good exercise dress should also be made to last through many tough workouts and washes — but without the help of any toxic chemical treatments. Material matters, and since your exercise dress is made for getting sweaty, you want to be sure you aren’t absorbing any toxins in the process. We especially love the options on this list that use recycled materials to create more mindful synthetics.

To make sure you’re getting the most sustainable and high-performing exercise dress out there, The Good Trade editors selected exercise dresses from the top brands on the market — and I’ve personally tested them on everything from sweaty workouts to running errands.

Five tank tops in various colors (green, white, black, and off-white) are laid out on a beige surface, arranged side by side.
I put these five exercise dresses to the test with my LA lifestyle, wearing them for everyday activities and more rigorous workouts.

Our methodology and criteria:

I live in LA, where athleisure is pretty much everyone’s uniform. So, I tested for style — not only how good I felt in it, but also how many compliments I received. I looked at performance i.e., how easy it is to put on, how it performed during both workouts, and how it held up during everyday activities (hello Erewhon runs!). I made notes on fit, too, to make sure each dress was easy to slip on and off, and that I didn’t experience any wardrobe malfunctions in the interim. Trust that all of these brands are sustainable and thoughtful about what they make — we personally vetted each one! Below, I’ve laid out my criteria.

  • STYLE | First and foremost, how did it look? Did I feel secure and good about myself while wearing and — the ultimate metric — would I wear it out to trendy LA coffee shops?
  • PERFORMANCE | I tested each set with low to moderate-impact workouts like walking, hiking, strength training, and yoga to see how much support they offered, how breathable they were during a sweat sesh, and how comfortable they were during movement.
  • FIT | I considered ease of wear, support, and if I had to adjust the piece while wearing it. Since all of these contain a built-in unitard, so I rated how those fit. We’ve also included brands that make inclusive sizes so you should be able to find something for your body in this list.
  • ETHICS | These are all sustainable brands that use thoughtful manufacturing processes. Many opt for recycled materials, and we’ve noted the material make-up for all the dresses below.

While you’re updating your athleisure collection, be sure to check out our guide to the best ethical and sustainable activewear brands, recycled running shoes, and sustainable sweats & joggers.

1.  Outdoor Voices

Circular fashion
Eco friendly packaging
Recycled materials
Size inclusive
Woman owned

Best For | All-around favorite
Materials | LightSpeed fabric composed of 85% nylon, 15% spandex
Size Range | XXS–XXXL
Price | $100

I’m here to tell you that Outdoor Voice’s The Exercise Dress dress is worth the hype. It’s one of the most recognizable on the market for a reason. True to their “Doing Things” tagline, OV makes conscious essentials that are high-performance, while keeping an eye on sustainability. The Exercise Dress is constantly sold out for how well it delivers on this promise. It’s lightweight, it’s cute, and it can support you through both low and high-impact workouts. Of all the dresses I tried, this one held up the best during the most strenuous exercise. The fabric felt the most lightweight and I felt the coolest in this unitard. Its performance fabric also features sticky grippers on the hem of the built-in shorts, which make a world of difference. I never had to adjust the dress, on either the shorts or the chest area thanks to the adjustable straps. The straps were pretty thin but surprisingly comfortable and didn’t dig into my skin, though the triangle back does make it a little hard to get on. The A-line shape is flattering but, while the built-in unitard is snug, I found the fit of the actual dress to be a little loose — especially compared to the other dresses on the list. If you like a little more fabric and a slightly longer silhouette, this is for you.

2. Girlfriend Collective

Budget friendly
Eco friendly packaging
Family owned
OEKO-TEX® certified
Recycled materials
Size inclusive

Best For | Support for low-impact training
Materials | Float fabric composed of 90% RPET (recycled plastic water bottles), 10% spandex
Size Range | XXS–6XL
Price | $88

Girlfriend Collective is known for their stylish activewear made from recycled water bottles — and for the colorful workout sets in fun designs like unitards that put the fun in functional. The Juliet strappy dress is supportive and sleek, with a built-in bra and adjustable straps to ensure a perfect fit. Of all the dresses, this was the most supportive — but it came at a cost: It was the hardest to get on. The attached bodysuit fits snugly with compression technology and a band at the waist, but that meant there was some wriggling to get into it. As a result, it traps heat and sweat. While the material dried quickly and kept the amount of visible sweat to a minimum, I felt the moisture trapped between my skin and the material as my workout went on. In the pros list, it held up well in the wash and the material is touchably soft. It feels like cotton or your favorite lounge set, so I recommend it for wearing around the house or for strength activities that don’t require a lot of sweat, but more support.

3. Quince

Budget friendly
Fair trade
OEKO-TEX® certified
Recycled materials
Size inclusive

Best For | Everyday looks
Materials | 78% nylon, 22% spandex
Size Range | XS–XL
Price | $45

Of all the dresses I tried, Quince’s Ultra-Form Active Dress is the one that I haven’t been able to take off. It’s become the piece I reach for each time I leave the house, especially in a hurry — and heading into the dog days of summer, I’m sure it will be my most worn piece in hot weather. First of all: Let’s talk about the material. It’s so soft, like if my favorite pair of legging and my favorite pair of underwear had a baby. And it’s the most flattering dress I own, exercise or not. I received compliments from friends and strangers which is *huge* in LA where no one talks to each other. The neckline is an elegant scoop neck and the straps are a comfortable thickness. The Goldilocks ratio of compression means it’s easy to get in and out of, and gives enough support to get you through a low-impact workout. However, the shorts inside do ride up when you put this dress through any more than a quick stroll. And while the material is moisture-wicking, it’s not made of a breathable mesh so it traps some heat in your mid-section. I’d recommend this for easier workouts and errands!

4. Patagonia

1% for the planet
B corp
Fair trade
Recycled materials
Size inclusive

Best For | Cardio-intensive sports
Materials | 80% recycled nylon, 20% spandex 
Size Range | XXS–XXL
Price | $129

Patagonia is a brand that stands for sustainability and quality. I’m most familiar with their outerwear and utility gear, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from their Maipo Active Dress. I’m pleasantly surprised to report that this is a surprisingly cool (both kinds of cool!) dress that lives up to Patagonia’s reputation for performance. Crafted from recycled materials, this dress is both eco-friendly and durable. The lining unitard feels super cooling and lightweight and the dress skims over the top for more of a slim, straight fit. Compared to the other, more A-line silhouettes, this feels more sporty and held up in more intense exercise. I also like the thick straps and support in the chest area. The color was also an unexpected standout. If you’re thinking of adding this to your athleisure arsenal, I recommend you go for the Conifer Green! This dress works great for tennis, pickleball, and other cardio-heavy sports since it allows for a great range of movement and contains moisture-wicking and odor control.

5. Gym Shark

Recycled materials

Best For | Affordable for gym sessions
Materials | Recycled polyester, nylon, elastane
Size Range | XS–XXL
Price | $41

Gymshark’s Sport Dress is designed for those who love a sleek, sporty look. It’s the one that made me look and feel most like Zendaya in “Challengers.” The material is what you’d expect from high-end athletic wear, It’s light, durable, and sleek. The fit is close to the body, offering a flattering silhouette with super-snug compression shorts that are a challenge to get into, but feel (and look) great once you’re strapped in. The shape at the top, however, gives you a little side boob and not the most chest support. I recommend it for strength workouts over cardio due to the less supportive bra. I also recommend it for those with longer legs since, on me, the shorts came stretched below the skirt. It’s also pretty short in general, so be warned!

Langa Chinyoka is a Contributing Editor at The Good Trade. She is a writer and strategist based in Los Angeles.