Is Outdoor Voices’ Athena Dress better than the Exercise Dress

Do you have a summer uniform? I do! Thanks for asking. Mine is the Exercise Dress from Outdoor Voices. If I could, I would wear it daily, but it’s also a good case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Let me explain. 

It has several features that I tend to shy away from: skinny spaghetti straps, built-in shorts, body-skimming spandex, a mid-thigh length! But together, they’re perfect. The straps come in at an angle, like a halter, for a more flattering effect across broad shoulders. The shorts are great for hopping on a bike or running around the city (they have a hidden pocket). They also make the length doable, instead of age-defying. And the dress stretches for days . . . comfy, lightweight, but holding its shape through wears and washes, in typical Outdoor Voices fashion. 

[Photo: courtesy Outdoor Voices]

I love my Exercise Dresses so much, I wear them deep into the fall under cardigans and with turtlenecks tucked underneath. So, when OV said they were launching the Athena Dress, I couldn’t get my hands on one fast enough.

The Athena Dress is an extension of the brand’s Athena Crop, which helps massively when considering sizing. Like the cropped tank, the racerback mini dress is made from Textured Compression poly-blend fabric — the same fabric as OV’s original color-blocked Springs and Dipped 7/8 Leggings. It’s stretchy and sweat-wicking, with that undeniably “made for sport” feel.

[Photo: courtesy Outdoor Voices]

To my dismay, the Athena does not come with built-in shorts (they suggest you add the Warmup 5″ Short), but it makes sense given the shape. Even with all the spandex in the world, the thick racerback straps and high neck would be impossible to wiggle out of in the bathroom.

It is . . . very short. On me, the Athena hits above midthigh, while for whatever reason, the Exercise Dress skims above the knee in the same size. I’d be happy to prance around my apartment or the park in this dress, but I can’t imagine wearing it to work or on the subway. Still, the compression is surprisingly nice, adding a body-smoothing effect in what otherwise looks like another little A-line dress.

[Photo: courtesy Outdoor Voices]

I imagine with some accessories and huarache sandals or Keds, Athena will make its way into my summertime rotation. It comes in four fun colorways, including two dual-shade paneled versions. And when things feel a little more normal, it will be excellent for warm-weather travel—it doesn’t wrinkle after being balled up and tossed on the floor, as someone (definitely not me, though) might do.

Do I miss the shorts? Yes. Do I think lightweight compression fabric is a genius idea? Also yes. Does my favorite summer dress have stiff competition? Absolutely. You should get yours before this one sells out.

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