Exercise dresses are a closet staple

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I sweat a lot. Add to that the heat and humidity of New York – and those subway platforms that make the air feel like 800 degrees – and I really needed to rethink how I dress for the day. summer and warm autumn days. Of course, it took a while to learn about the don’ts – jeans, long sleeves and silk – and the do’s, like light linen pants, sandals, crop tops. and a secret hero I’m about to reveal, but I think I’ve finally nailed it.


I was driven to spill my nope. 1 summer style secret after seeing Hilary Duff earlier this week. No, I’m not talking about skorts, although they’re also brilliant; I refer to those exercise dresses I used to only wear it on the tennis court, but now I wear it everywhere in New York. They saved my life this summer and I plan to wear them through the fall as well.


Exercise dresses are totally simple, one of the reasons I love them so much. But their casual looks should not be underestimated as they do better than most traditional dresses. That’s because they’re made from a sweat-wicking material, like that in your leggings and sports bras, making them ideal for those hot summer days. Many are designed with hidden shorts (no chance of flashing with those), and often have hidden pockets in said shorts to safely store your smaller essentials. Now you get why this is my hero piece, right?


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Buy now: $88; girlfriend.com


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Buy now: $88; outdoorvoices.com


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Buy now: $108; nordstrom.com


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Buy now: $98; thereformation.com


Don’t let the training aspect put you off either – so many options go beyond their fit and high-performance material. They’re on trend thanks to brands like Outdoor Voices and Girlfriend Collective offering styles with fresh, edgy details like cutouts and halter necklines. LBD? Meet the LBED (aka little black sports dress). It’s just as chic, but much more practical.


I wear mine for everything from Sunday errands to dinner out with friends, changing accessories accordingly. My daytime sneakers are replaced by chunky black boots and I trade in my baseball cap for gold hoop earrings and sparkly jewelry. With these additions, you would never know I was wearing a sports dress. It’s my little secret, and that’s why I like to wear it.


So take my word for it (Duff’s, too): late-summer summer and fall outfits will be much less intimidating with a sports dress on hand. Shop some of the best below.


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Buy now: $88; nordstrom.com


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Buy now: $79; nordstrom.com


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Buy now: $98; thereformation.com


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Buy now: $108; aloyoga.com


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Buy now: $110; kittyandvibe.com