“Active” dresses solve footwear issue and a whole lot more

Sam has written quite a bit about sport skirts and dresses, including her mixed feelings about her new cycling dress. She has mixed feelings because she said the dress was comfy and functional, but after wearing it the bike shorts suddenly started to feel skimpy and immodest. And that’s not how she (or I) want to feel about fitted, more “performance oriented” athletic clothing.

Well I’ve lately discovered something that the store I bought it from (okay: Costco) called an “active dress.” It’s a dress made of the same stretchy fabric as “everyday” (that is, not the highest price range) yoga pants and hoodies. It’s fitted up top with a built in sports bra with a racer back, and then it goes A-line down to the knee. There’s a removable pad in the bra so you can either keep it in or not (unlike Sam, I like having the padding and not because of nipple phobia). It came in four colours and at the start I bought a grey one and a blue one.  They looked comfy and the price was right ($19.99).

My thought, which turned out to be true, was that they would be perfect for walking to work on a hot day. And because of the sporty dress style, I could easily wear them with running shoes. My walk is about 50 minutes, so it matters that I have comfortable footwear. But I’m vain enough to think that running shoes or even my Keens don’t look great with most skirts and dresses.

The active dress has freed me of that altogether. They’re absolutely okay with shoes you wouldn’t normally wear with dresses, not just for walking to work but even about town sometimes. And they stay presentable even when you work up a sweat, which I mostly do when I walk in on a summer day (and most definitely when I walk home in the heat of the afternoon). I leave other, dressier clothes and shoes at work to change into when I get there, which I only do if I have a meeting or something. The active dress actually looks pretty good. People compliment me when I’m wearing them. But they’re a bit on the casual side for some work-related contexts.

Image description: Tracy, brown woman with short blond hair, stands smiling and striking a pose in front of a backdrop with the Rolling Stones tongue logo advertising the "Exhibitionism" exhibit at Navy Pier in Chicago. She is wearing her grey active dress, grey and orange Keens sandals, a short black cardigan and a grey ribbon choker around her neck.

Image description: Tracy, brown woman with short blond hair, stands smiling and striking a pose in front of a backdrop with the Rolling Stones tongue logo advertising the “Exhibitionism” exhibit at Navy Pier in Chicago. She is wearing her grey active dress, grey and orange Keens sandals, a short black cardigan and a grey ribbon choker around her neck.

Tracy on Canada Day, wearing her blue active dress and sunglasses, smiling, holding a multi-coloured "Canada 150" frame sign with a purple heart in the lower right corner that says "London" in it. Standing on the street with people and a reflective mirrored building in the background.

Tracy on Canada Day, wearing her blue active dress and sunglasses, smiling, holding a multi-coloured “Canada 150” frame sign with a purple heart in the lower right corner that says “London” in it. Standing on the street with people and a reflective mirrored building in the background.

I have fallen so in love with the active dresses that I went back for the other two colours (purple-pink and a sort of turquoise colour). I have fallen so in love with them that when I was in Chicago last week I wore my active dress more than any other item of clothing. I have fallen so in love with them that I want to wear them every day.

Image description: Tracy's four active dresses laid out on her bed from left to right in purple, turquoise, blue, and grey.

Image description: Tracy’s four active dresses laid out on her bed from left to right in purple, turquoise, blue, and grey.

The thing about these dresses is that they’re “active” in an every day functional sense, not an actual workout sense. They’re not all that practical for the types of workouts I do. They’re too long to run in. Maybe you could cycle in them, but you’d have to wear shorts underneath. I can’t imagine weight training in them. And no way could you do yoga in them (again, too long). They haven’t made me feel as if my other workout gear, which tends to be fitted, is too revealing or skimpy.

Do you own any “active dresses” and if so, what do you wear them for and what do you like/dislike about them?

About Tracy I

Writer, feminist, vegan, triathlete, sailor, philosopher, sometimes knitter.

11 thoughts on ““Active” dresses solve footwear issue and a whole lot more

  1. Sam B says:

    Okay but the really important question is, does Costco still have these dresses and do they come in a size large?

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    • Tracy I says:

      They did come in large and extra large but I don’t know if they still have them. You know how they sell out and don’t restock when it comes to clothing.

      Like

  2. I always want dresses to wear in the summer, but worry that chasing after kids might not work that well, even in an active dress. Also, the built-in racer back bra, does it have any kind of adjuster? I hate the one size fits all type bras because they just don’t fit all.

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    • Tracy I says:

      The answer is no, the bra doesn’t adjust. So it might not work for all (and that, frankly, was a worry that kept me to buying just two at the beginning). I think though that if the fit was right it would be fine for chasing after kids (but I’ve never chased after kids, so you might want a second opinion). I also bought an “active skirt” with built in shorts. That would be really good for chasing kids and I get a lot of wear out of it too (black with white polka dots).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Cindy says:

    I got the turquoise one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The vast majority of my summer dresses fall into this category — quick drying, some with built in bras, all leaving my shoulders plenty of room for movement. I love them. They are what I would wear 100% of the time if possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. KimG says:

    I have a dozen dresses in this category – I do wear bike shorts or knee length leggings with them, but I am quite tall so most “knee length” dresses come up short on me! I can’t wear things with defined waistbands quitw yet, after a hysterectomy in January. My scars are still healing up and my abdomen ends up swollen at odd times. A short dress or long lunic over leggings is just the ticket.

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  6. ms g says:

    Those look super cute and make me want to get some. But, can I ask, how tall are you? It looks like the dresses hit your leg at a good spot. Most dresses, active or not are cut too long for me and end up hitting right at the spot of leg that is unflattering and make me feel dumpy. I have better luck with skirts

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    • Tracy I says:

      I’m 5’3″ and I think it would look better if it was slightly shorter on me so I get the concern about length. The skirt I have is 2 inches above the knee.

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  7. Jean says:

    Um, small breasted women on this particular style doesn’t quite work. In fact, any sports bra/tank top, I’ve never worn at all.

    Glad it works well for you, Tracy and others.

    Come to think of it I haven’t worn any dress in the any past….10 years or more. I’m just lazy since I can wear broad range of dress styles.

    And I used to sew 80% of my wardrobe for 10 years before I returned to cycling @32 yrs. This includes sewing and wearing my own sundresses.

    Skirts are my thing. Yes, I wear skorts and sometimes bike in them. I don’t pretend to call them active skirts. It is a skort …with shorts built in underneath the skirt. They are handy when running around with young children..at least what I observe with one of my sisters.

    I dislike having too much waistband layers on the same spot….ie. a standalone skirt with a separate short underneath. Too hot and uncomfortable in summer at the waist.

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