Universal Standard Mystery Box

We all know that I’ve had iffy success in the past with clothing surprise boxes. I have too many “rules” for what I’ll wear, and I have the unreasonable expectation that 75% of the clothes I get will… y’know… fit. (Content warning: as with all of my clothing review posts, there will be some negative body talk to follow.)

I went into the Universal Standard Mystery Box (no longer available, seems to come up for sale each February) with a lot of high hopes. The company offers every style in 00-40US. With that, I assumed that they’d have consistent sizing from piece to piece. And for the most part, they’re close.

I ordered the Tops Mystery Box (3 tops valued at $250) for $50 and the Surprise Me Mystery Box (3 pieces valued at $300) for $75. One thing that has held me back from trying Universal Standard has always been the price. Their basic t-shirts are priced at $50 each. I… can’t do that, no matter how much I like the mission of a company.

The biggest surprise of all for the USMB is that not only do you get to order from a size grouping at checkout (when they send bottoms, they let you specify your bottom size in addition to picking a general size), but they also send along a survey letting you tell them your specific size on top, on bottom and what colors you love and hate wearing.

Processing before shipping on their end took quite a while. I was honestly completely fine with that. I placed my order on February 17th and received the box on March 18th (sent via 2-day air). On the MySubscriptionAddiction comments, it appears that some people received theirs much earlier, but were disappointed that the retail value didn’t match what was promised (the language on the site actually said a retail value “up to”, according to a few commenters.)

My haul

I received eight pieces rather than the promised six. I’m not sure if that was in response to the complaints regarding retail value, but I’m well pleased. For me, this was less about the retail value and more about ensuring that the price I spent per piece was as low as possible. Mission accomplished.

I received a long-sleeve tee shirt, a v-neck tee, a sweater, two dresses (and here), a cap sleeve tee, a button up (in black) and a pair of jeans. That’s a pretty decent haul at $15.63(ish) apiece.

The Winners

Long Sleeve Tee Rex in Black ($60)

The fabric on all their knits is buttery soft. I never buy long sleeve tees for myself (why? who know?!) so this felt like a real treat. I’m 5’4″ and the sleeves were actually just barely long on me, but held at the wrists just fine. It’s a little more fitted than I prefer (more on that in The Losers) but the arms fit beautifully.

Seine Midrise Jeans ($90)

The biggest surprise of all was these jeans. It was a real rollercoaster of emotion because at first, I was elated that they included jeans… until I saw that they sent me a size down. I was so bummed and didn’t even want to try them on because trying on jeans that are too small is always whomp whomp. Just before I reached out to customer service, I thought aw heck, let’s try ’em on. And I’m so glad I did! These have great stretch and they fit nicely, if just a bit snug on my waist. The length is even great! They have enormous pockets and feel really comfortable. They’re thicker than my Old Navy Rockstars, for sure.

Aura Sweater in Black (no longer available, similar here.)

This is just a simple crew neck sweater, but as soon as I pulled it out, I knew I’d be fighting my boyfriend for it. It’s not a sweatshirt material and it’s not a teeshirt material. The inside is a little fleecy, but the outside is super soft. It’s a lighter weight sweater, but heavy enough to feel like it’d be able to fend off a breeze.

The Losers

I really love the idea of a high-concept dress. I really do. But at the end of the day, this is a shift dress with a weird hem. It actually took me a minute to get into the thing (the hem opening is smaller than you’d expect) and it never felt like it was wearing quite right, like the hem was folding and rolling up. My body is naturally lumpy and bumpy and this dress takes no prisoners. Maybe with the aid of a higher power, maybe I could wear this dress and feel good. But I hate my arms and this dress wasn’t trying to hide those, either.

Aster Tuxedo Collar Shirt in Black, which is no longer available ($80)

Initially putting this on, I wanted to love it. I need you to know that. I was willing to forgive a multitude of sins. And oh, this shirt brought ’em. First of all, the fit is too tight. And despite the stretchy fabric, it’s pretty unforgiving. The front doesn’t gape (!!) but it feels stiff and fussy on. The front is shorter than the back, which my fupa is probably still laughing about. But worst of all – most confusingly of all – is the back, which puckers out in the strangest way, causing the appearance of a huge lump on your upper back. WHY, shirt? WHY?!?!

The Ehhhh…

Almost All the Other Shirts, I guess.

The fit is so confusing. Everything seems to fit more on the low end of the size range, which sucks as someone who lives on the high end. Things cling around the waist and chest and the knits don’t forgive lumps and bumps. I just got new bras that don’t show lines on any of my other clothes, but all the tees make it look like I’m wearing my kid sister’s titty holder. And we shan’t even speak of the fucking cap sleeves in the mix.

Tesino jersey dress ($70)

Oh I’m so torn on this one. Again, I don’t wear shift dresses because they hit all my lumps. But something there is that wants to look like a t-shirt dress cool girl. I’d have to wear foundation garments to rock this because, again, it fits more on the low end of the size group. And yet… would I be willing? Isn’t the point of the t-shirt dress absolute comfort, not constricted discomfort? I don’t know, guys. I don’t know.

The Verdict

Did I spend $125 for three pieces, thereby invalidating the whole point of this purchase? Not quite. I’ll absolutely wear all the t-shirts at home, or out as a layer. I like tighter tees when I wear (rarely) wear big skirts, so no loss there. And fortunately, my roommate and I wear the same size, so I will begin slowly offering her pieces as I decide to give up on trying to make them work for me.

But will I be ordering from Universal Standard again? I might try again with next year’s Mystery Box at the size up, but my gut is saying it’s gonna be a no from me, dawg.

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