I am not a girly girl. So when my best friend Bren suggested I try one of the trendy new running dresses put out by companies like Athleta, lululemon, and others, I balked at first. Work out in a dress? Not my style.

July 02, 2009

By Su Reid-St. John
I am not a girlie girl. If you know me or have read this blog with any regularity, that statement will come as no surprise. So when my best friend Bren suggested I try one of the trendy new running dresses put out by companies like Athleta, Lululemon, and others, I balked.

Work out in a dress? Not my style. Still, my job is to test out new gear and apparel that catches people’s eyes, so I chose the least girlie one I could find: the New Balance Bonita Run Dress.

I put the dress on over a pair of black shorts, not wanting to give passers-by a glimpse of my skivvies. It has a flimsy little shelf bra, but unless you’re an A or B cup (nope), or only intend to do a little lounging around in it, you’ll need to wear another, more substantial sports bra underneath.

I chanced a look in the mirror before heading out for my morning Nordic walk. Despite the nagging feeling that I should be sporting a swingy ponytail and heading to the tennis court, I found the dress to be quite flattering—fitted but not too tight on the top, with just the right above-knee length and a hint of flare.

I don’t hate my thighs, but if I did, this dress would provide excellent camouflage. It occurred to me that if I were to sling a little sweater over my shoulders, I could wear this baby out to a coffee shop post-workout...if I lived in a neighborhood that actually boasted a coffee shop. But I digress.

It was time to put the dress to the test. There’s a tiny zippered pocket along the side torso with room only for a key (sans chain) or a tissue. I used it for my house key, which turned out to be a questionable decision. Leaning into the steep hills during my walk, I could feel the key pressing uncomfortably into my side. Odd location for a pocket, I have to say; it would’ve been better placed at the small of the back, or even along the underside of the skirt hem.

I used my best, serious “I’m training for something” Nordic walking form, in an effort to balance out the whole working-out-in-a-dress thing. There was a slight breeze, which kept blowing the skirt around my legs; it was a little annoying, but not too bad.

However, the dress worked the way a good tech piece should; it breathed well, wicked sweat, and dried quickly. And other than the occasional poke-in-the-side from the key in my pocket, it was very comfortable.

The verdict: Were I a girlier girl, or inclined to play tennis or golf, I could see myself wearing the heck out of this dress—for workouts and beyond. Since I’m not, though, I’ll probably just use it for those runs to the neighborhood coffee shop. If we ever get one, that is.

Product: New Balance Bonita Run Dress

Category: Apparel

Pros: Flattering, comfortable style with great thigh camouflage. Breathes and wicks well.

Cons: May be a bit girlie for some tastes. The pocket isn’t very useful, and the shelf bra doesn't provide much support.

Cost: $55 at NBWebExpress.com

Extra tip: Don’t wear it on a windy day.

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