Running In a Dress: Nuu-Muu Review

Over the last year, one piece of workout gear has firmly inserted itself into my closet– the Nuu-Muu exercise dress. I use them for commuting, running, and even ran a marathon in one earlier this spring.

A Nuu-Muu is a USA-made sleeveless running dress– or tunic, if you’re 5 feet, 8 inches like me– designed for active pursuits. I first learned about Nuu-Muu at a Marine Corps Marathon expo several years ago, as they were one of the exhibitors there.

Nuu Muu run commute

The women staffing the Nuu-Muu booth took an interest in me upon seeing my pannier and helmet. Also active cyclists, the women of Nuu-Muu asked me about my cycling and we ended up talking more bikes than running. I appreciated their curiosity and interest in bicycling, and that interaction stuck with me.

I bought a dress at that time, but I rarely wore it. Years later and a few pounds lighter, I sold that dress and purchased another one to see how I might use it.

I had begun run commuting and disliked how regular length shirts rode up and under my running pack. I tried running to work in a Nuu-Muu. It stayed comfortably in place under my pack, and did not ride up like the shirts I had been wearing.

Nuu Muu run commute

Initially I felt conspicuous running in a dress, although truth be told nobody is paying much attention to anyone else on the D.C. commute, especially in the morning hours. It seemed like overkill for a commute.

But as I wore Nuu-Muus with more frequency, I realized that they not only addressed my run commuting needs, but I also felt feminine and athletic while wearing them. I liked looking down and seeing the skirt flare above my legs as I ran. Generally a neutrals and solids person, Nuu-Muu’s multi-colored prints brightened my day. Hey, whatever gets you out for a run, right?

I began using them for summer bike commuting. I’m convinced that drivers are nicer to me on the road, and more people open doors for me when I’m coming and going from the office in a Nuu-Muu compared to days when I’m in shorts and a t-shirt. This could all be in my mind, but…

Nuu-Muu Commute

Made of 83 percent polyester and 17 percent spandex, Nuu-Muus move easily with the body, and I’ve experienced no chafing when running or riding in them (this sometimes happens to me when running with sleeveless tops). I pair my Nuu-Muu with the compression shorts I usually wear for running.

Nuu-Muu also offers a version called a Ruu, which features two rear pockets. Ruus are my preferred style, as the pockets easily store my phone, keys, ID, and lip balm for my long runs.

Nuu Muu run

Unlike a fuel belt, the placement of the pocket has not irritated my back, likely because the pockets sit slightly higher than a fuel belt would. The pockets are covered (see photos) so I never worry about any items falling out.

Nuu Muu

I recently used a Nuu-Muu on our two-week bike tour as my off-the-bike outfit of choice. It was receptive to spot-cleaning and easy to wash and wear. I could hang it dry in our hotel room and it was perfectly dry in the morning.

I would likely wear a Ruu for longer bike rides, but my shoulders cannot tolerate the all-day sun exposure of summer.  Also, while the fabric covering for the pocket is perfect for the jostling that comes with running, I prefer an open rear pocket when I’m cycling.


With the exception of the pocket versus no-pocket option, Nuu-Muu dresses are the same basic pattern– sleeveless, keyhole neckline, a short slit on both sides of the skirt.

Every year Nuu-Muu introduces new prints for their dresses and phases out others. Nuu-Muu has a Facebook group that avidly follows the introduction of prints and showcases how women wear and use their dresses.
Nuu Muu run

The retail price for a Nuu-Muu is $75, and the two-pocket Ruu is priced at $85. This price point compares well to a good cycling jersey, and I think it’s an additional plus that Nuu-Muu is a women-owned business that makes all their dresses in the United States.

The quality of the Nuu-Muu dresses I own has also been solid, and they have held their shape over time (time being around a year). A few show wear on the areas where my commute pack waist strap fastens, but I would expect this type of wear and it happened over some months of using the dress.

I’m not much of a gear reviewer, but I surprised myself with how much I enjoy running in a Nuu-Muu dress so I had to write about it. Now if only the act of wearing one would make me go faster.


  1. I have 2 Nuu-Muus and 1 Ruu-Muu and absolutely adore them! The first one, I had for ages but didn’t wear much as I wasn’t too sure how they’d work for me. But I took it on our Scottish tour last year as the one & only off-the-bike outfit (with leggings & merino cardigan) and gradually started wearing it more and more — especially for leisure group rides.

    I bought 2 more while out in Oregon in June. Like you, I am not really happy with the pockets on the Ruu on longer bike rides, exactly because I prefer easier access to the contents. But for out and back rides and generally riding around, it’s fine.

    Like you, I lean towards solid colours but wearing my Poppy Nuu-Muu is just so much fun!

    Enjoyed your review – thanks!


    1. They are so versatile! I ended up using one on a 75-miler this weekend and it was okay. Still prefer the open pockets, but it was nice to switch it up with a Ruu.


  2. Thanks for posting this blog on NuuMuu dresses. I often see touring bikers wearing them in blog pics, but I could not find the brand name. I just ordered one… Looking forward to wearing it this Spring in AZ.


  3. I just bought a Nuu Muu and don’t know what to wear under it. What “shorts” do you wear while running? I am afraid bike shorts will be uncomfortable because of the padding.


    1. Hi Kimberly, I use a couple different kinds. One is the Brooks Infiniti compression short. I’ve also used the Champion Absolute Short for several years. It’s actually my favorite. Good length and snug without a lot of compression. Doesn’t ride up like other shorts, either. Gusseted crotch, too. It’s noted as a bike short, but there is no padding in them.


  4. I finally bought my first Nuu Muu! It’s a Ruu Muu with a pocket, color: “Hottt”. After one test, I decided it would be The Thing I Wear on our recent bike tour (6 days on the GAP-C&O) and had zero regrets. It’s fully functional, magically interchangeable, and totally comfortable under most circumstances. I wore my favorite chamois shorts underneath to ride all day, dried off quickly after a refreshing dip in the Yough, and still felt civilized walking into a coffee shop. I was still wearing it, with capris and a hoody, over a celebratory dinner and beer in Georgetown. It stank a little by that time, but that might’ve been me more than the clothing (we asked for a table outside)!

    I hear ya about the exposed shoulders, and I did get a little burnt the first day before learning to be more diligent with the sunscreen. I hate carrying anything in pockets, but having one sure helps to be hands-free in a pinch. I’ve already ordered a second Ruu Muu.


    1. That’s awesome! Over the last year, I’ve become even more of a devotee of Nuu-Muu. A great company with an excellent, high-quality, and versatile product. Rear pockets should be on ALL my dresses 🙂


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