As activewear gets girlier—think pom-pom sneakers, tanks with peek-a-boo keyholes, and yes, even bows—it was really only a matter of time before workout skorts made a serious play as a leggings alternative for more feminine dressers. Every buzzy activewear brand’s rolled out its own iteration over the past few years: Athleta stocks a wide range, Koral and Sweaty Betty have dabbled in the silhouette, and both Adidas and L’Etoile offer modern, chic updates.
Personally, I get why they’re trending—it wound up being my summer wardrobe MVP last year. I wore mine as a beach cover-up, birthday bash go-to, and vegging-out essential. I never actually worked out in it, though.
“I want to look cute, but also be cool and comfortable—it’s like wearing a skirt but without the fear of flashing the whole class.”
So this year, when I heard that Outdoor Voices, designer of the cool girl-approved Court Skort, had launched a tweaked version in its signature compression fabric that’s higher-waisted and a bit more body conscious, I decided to put it through a fitness test. And after speaking with OV founder Tyler Haney, I was optimistic—she understands the real-girl struggles regarding the garment.
“Wearing skirts is usually inhibitive—you’re conscious of how you’re sitting, whether your legs are crossed—but the built-in shorts keep you held in and covered, with a touch of flirt,” she says. Don’t let its feminine design fool you, however: She assures a skort can handle everything from HIIT to hot yoga. (She wears hers for tennis, cycling, jogging, and golf.)
But could one truly be a substitute for my go-to pair of leggings? For sure, according to Jennifer Ares Cruz, instructor at New York Pilates. “I literally refuse to wear pants from May to September, so skorts are the perfect option,” she tells me. “I want to look cute, but also be cool and comfortable—it’s like wearing a skirt but without the fear of flashing the whole class.” Aside from Pilates, she pulls hers on for barre, yoga, dance, hiking, and cruising around on a bike. (Haney also says “cartwheels are highly encouraged” as a skort-appropriate activity.) With their votes of confidence, I was ready to make one my new fitness buddy.
Here’s what happened when I worked out in an Outdoor Voices Court Skort for a week.
What exactly is a skort-appropriate workout?
Tennis is the sport most commonly associated with skirts (or skorts), but I opted to begin my exercise experiment in a space where the feminine piece is less likely to be found: the gym.
Not wanting to commit any faux pas—fashion or otherwise, I was cautious stepping onto an elliptical machine. But as I got moving, my skort held up during bursts of cardio. The rowing machine, however, was trickier. With every pull on the handlebars, I found myself fighting the urge to pause and adjust the skirt flap. Stroke after stroke, it flipped over, drooping on my right thigh, bunching in my crotch. I ran into similar issues on a stationary bike (though the shorts stayed in place, thankfully, so I didn’t feel like I was flashing my fellow riders).
While physically comfortable, I still felt slightly self-aware wearing a glorified skirt in the gym’s dude-dominated real estate, so I decided to pull it out for a PiYo (Pilates-yoga fusion) class next. I was struck by how…sexy it felt as I glanced down at my very-exposed upper thigh while checking alignment mid-warrior three. During twists and oblique work, the skirt portion grazed the mat—still, it didn’t interrupt my flow.
It was there, in front of a wall of mirrors and a room full of strangers, that I truly found the skort’s sweet spot.
But what about during burpees? A very sweaty HIIT class felt like the ultimate way to test a skort’s workout limits. Surprisingly, it stayed in place—even during skater jumps and side-shuffles. It did, however, become somewhat distracting during plank-based moves like push-ups or leg lifts—the skirt component trailed the ground with each rep, and the bike shorts migrated up a couple inches. Nothing too revealing, though.
I was feeling good about its overall performance going into my final workout of the week: dance class. It was there, in front of a wall of mirrors and a room full of strangers, that I truly found the skort’s sweet spot. Its kicky shape and I stayed in sync during every shimmy and hip shake. As I flailed around euphorically to “Despacito” in the back row, I felt completely free and unselfconscious—about both my moves and my fitness-fashion choices. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to realizing my career goals of backup dancer or Bat Mitzvah hype woman. Now, I don’t really want to dance in anything else.