Athletic dresses are stylish and functional

  • Fri Apr 27th, 2012 8:51pm
  • Sports

By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer

I feel pretty, oh so pretty. …

These are not words I use to describe myself — particularly not while running.

I turn deep shades of red when I exercise, no matter what shape I’m in — which, at the moment, is not my fittest.

And I sweat. Profusely.

On more than one occasion, having seen my ruddy, sweaty condition, people at the gym have asked: “Are you OK? Really, do you need a doctor?”

So, when I say that wearing a Nuu-Muu dress while running makes me feel almost pretty (less hideous than normal), you have a sense of the immensity of that task.

Helping women feel confident and comfortable in exercise apparel is the goal of Bellingham-based Nuu-Muu.

“It came out of a desire to have something a little more feminine and fun available for women’s sports wear,” said Christine Nienstedt, Nuu-Muu founder.

Nienstedt, who lives in Boise, came up with the idea up in 2007 after running a half-marathon while wearing an old polyester dress. The dress won Nienstedt plenty of compliments, enough to prompt her to look for retailers of athletic dresses. Finding none, Nienstedt decided to start Nuu-Muu. Ashley Fullenwider joined a few months later.

“I don’t think either one of us planned to be business women,” Nienstedt said. “The thing that has kept us going is how many people are really interested in what we’re doing.”

Nuu-Muu dresses are simple. There are no built-in bras, shorts or undergarments. This allows women to wear Nuu-Muu dresses as they please: with a jacket and shorts; with a long-sleeve shirt and yoga pants.

Made in the United States, the dress fabric is light and flowy. It doesn’t cling or keep in sweat. The dresses can be ordered in solid colors or in a variety of prints. Sizes run from 0 to 18.

Nuu-Muu introduced dresses, which come with or without a back pocket, at just the right time.

“I think the whole desire for truly women’s athletic wear has been evident in the last five years,” Nienstedt said.

That compares to decades of athletic retailers making a woman’s version of men’s fitness clothing. Today, dozens of companies offer athletic skirts, skorts and dresses.

Nuu-Muu dresses aren’t just for running, though Nienstedt acknowledges the company got a boost in business when the dresses were featured in Runner’s World magazine last August.

In fact, Nuu-Muu has a fair share of support from professional women athletes, including Olympic gold medal cyclist Kristin Armstrong, also a Boise resident. Lisa Smith Batchen, who ran 50 miles in all 50 states in 62 days in 2010, also wears Nuu-Muu dresses.

Gaining the endorsement of high-profile athletes meant that Nuu-Muu dresses aren’t just fun. The dresses are functional, too.

Wearing a Nuu-Muu, reminds you “it’s good to be a girl,” Nienstedt said.

I concur.

Nuu-Muu dresses can be found in a few retail locations or can be ordered online at