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JCrew tennis dress CAT

  • Appearance: 18/20
  • Comfort: 19/20
  • Fit: 19/20
  • Utility: 18/20
  • Wear: 19/20
I am not a sporty gal. So not sporty am I, in fact, that I actually broke my wrist and my ankle at the same time in ninth grade…tripping over a tennis ball. Which is why it’s completely and utterly ironic that the very first piece of sportswear I’ve found myself obsessing over is a damn tennis dress. Then again, this J.Crew tennis dress is no ordinary find.

What Does It Look Like?

At first glance, this dress looks relatively basic, similar to the best-selling Outdoor Voices exercise dress that women everywhere have been loving for many a hot-girl summer. It’s sleeveless, it has a racerback and it has a fitted look. It does have a few standout features, however, in the form of the mesh upper half of the racerback and the half-zip placket down the front that can be worn zipped up or down.

That said, I found its classic design to be extremely versatile. Sure, you can wear it as is with a pair of white sneakers all day long, but it’s also cute enough to layer under a denim jacket and a pair of slides for an instant daytime outfit you can wear outside the gym. The half-zip element gives you even more choices, since you can wear it down on its own or over a tank or sports bra. It would even be cute with a striped sweater over top for a layered, peekaboo-skirt effect.

How Does It Fit?

The fit is the first thing that really sold me on this dress. The moment I put it on, I felt transformed—I looked like someone who might actually, possibly, be into tennis. The fabric and the bodycon fit also looked slightly elevated—so much so that I could easily picture a royal, like Kate Middleton, or even Princess Diana, wearing it.

Beyond that, it hugged my curves without making me feel restricted in the slightest (more on that later). It looked made for my body in almost every area except the arm holes, which were a tad too big (but as I later discovered, was nothing that couldn’t be solved with a quick wash and dry).

The length was also miraculously just right. As someone with a much wider hip-than-waist ratio, miniskirts are typically my nemesis—they tend to want to ride up to the smaller part of my body, so even if they fit at first glance, they start creeping up the second that I walk, rendering them almost unwearable. Because this one flares out a bit at the hip and is fitted (but not tight!) at the waist, it stays exactly where it’s meant to, hitting the middle of my thigh.

J.Crew tennis dress 2
J. Crew

Is It Comfortable?

So glad you asked—extremely. Made with J.Crew’s CloudStretch fabric (a new active material launched by the brand in March that’s crafted from recycled bottles, yarns and fabric scraps), it’s super soft. In fact, I’d almost go so far as to say it borders on velvety.

More importantly (for me, anyway), it offers support, but doesn’t feel like my organs are being compressed. Normally, when I try on activewear, I can physically feel my thighs being smushed together in a way that’s enough to make me recoil, or my stomach is so suctioned in, it feels as though my circulation has been cut off. There’s none of that going on with this dress. It’s structured, but not oppressive—I can actually breathe in this thing.

Is it as comfy, as say, lounging around in a pair of your favorite sweats? Of course not—it is made for activity, after all—but you can still wear it out and about and be completely cozy at the same time.

So, How Does It Perform?

Needless to say, I haven’t touched a tennis ball since that fateful day in gym, so I can’t speak to how it actually moves on the court. However, I did test it out on my sweat session of choice (I’m a treadmill/recumbent bike kind of gal), and even when pedaling my absolute hardest (read: sweating like a pig), I never felt wet, sticky or uncomfortable (thank you, built-in moisture-wicking and half-mesh back).

Yes, it’s a cute and versatile basic, but at the end of the day, it was designed as activewear, and I’d say it more than lives up to expectations on that front. My only complaint? I wish these had a built-in pair of shorts at the bottom, as it tended to ride up when I was leaning back on the bike.

OK, But Does It Hold Up in the Wash?

Surprisingly, yes. I had a moment of sheer panic when I realized I had tossed it into my building’s industrial-sized, ultra-high heat dryer, but lo and behold, when I tried it on again, it still fit like a glove. In fact, the only place that it seemed to get tighter at all was at the armholes, which had previously been a smidge too large. It’s almost like the company predicted exactly how it would come out after being washed and dried—more or less perfect—and crafted it accordingly.

Given how well it does with a little wear and tear, I can safely say I see this holding up for a good long while.

I’d buy this dress at full price, but right now, it’s also nearly 50 percent off—a steal, IMHO. I may never lift a tennis racket again in my life, but I can say with confidence that I’ll be wearing this J.Crew tennis dress for as long as I possibly can.

Buy It ($98; $50)

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