Why I Shop This Annual Event
- What: Universal Standard Now Trending Mystery Box
- When: February 2023
- Why: Big discounts on size-inclusive clothing
- Where: Universal Standard
Have you heard of Universal Standard? This women’s clothing company has revolutionized the fashion industry by making clothes that fit almost anyone, from petites to plus sizes. I love that they use real people with a variety of different body shapes, skin colors, and ages to model their clothing online.
I first got introduced to Universal Standard four years ago during their annual Mystery Box event. While this year’s event has ended (I’m not an influencer, so I don’t get early releases of items in time to review the contents before the sale is over), I still wanted to review the items I got and the process, for anyone considering this type of sale event in the future.
Mystery Boxes from Universal Standard offer incredible value. The catch? You don’t get to pick the clothes. Much like the grab bags I loved at Sanrio as a child, the company picks the items and colors and sends them your way. You get to choose the type of box you want, and how many items inside. In 2023, boxes ranged in prices from $58 for two items to almost $500 for their Luxe Forever box with three items. All the other boxes fell somewhere in between, with most ranging from $115 to $175 or so. The main boxes all include three items, though this time they offered several options with only two pieces of clothing: Mini Surprise Me, Signature Fabrics, and Very Us Outfit.
Universal Standard has a different sizing system than most other brands, so make sure you understand their options before you purchase. All Mystery Box items are final sale, meaning no returns or exchanges on any items. That being said, there is a robust brand-specific Facebook group for buying, trading, and selling anything you don’t love or won’t use. They base their sizes on actual people (what a revolutionary thought!), so a medium in Universal Standard corresponds to a size 18-20 in other plus size brands. Sizes range from 4XS (XXXXS) to 4XL (XXXXL), so you can shop with friends, family, and anyone else regardless of whether they need the petite or plus sections in other stores.
Several boxes had an early release date for people subscribed to their email list, or who visited one of their trunk shows in the past year. But the majority of the boxes dropped on February 15th on their website.
I couldn’t resist one of their early limited release offerings, called Now Trending, which only went to people who attended their fitting sessions. Now Trending’s description said it came with three pieces which would make two outfits. Since I love not thinking about assembling an outfit, this idea sold me. It also promised that the pieces inside would not be included in any other mystery box, reducing the chances of duplicates if I ordered more boxes later in the sale. As an added incentive, the box was only available for two hours, meaning you didn’t have a lot of time to decide. I placed my order on February 10th for this selection and received my shipping notice via email on February 21st. My package got delivered to the west coast on February 28th.
Unlike in past years, the box did not include any sort of paper packing slip this time around. I did not get a scratch off coupon with this package, though some of my boxes from the same sale later on would include this item.
In my Now Trending Box, I got the same three items everyone who ordered that box also received: a Kate Jumpsuit in Ivy, the Roya bodysuit in white, and the Tailor Pull On Pants in black. The box cost $164 before tax with free shipping. The value came to $415, with the Kate retailing for $188, the Roya for $89, and the pants for $138.
I’m 5’7” tall and weigh 150 pounds. I ordered both boxes in 2XS, which corresponds to a size 6-8 in most brands. Of the three items I received, I’m keeping two of them, which means I got a great deal on some clothing I never would’ve tried myself. If I split the cost evenly between the two items in my closet, each one comes to $82. That’s a savings of $106 on the jumpsuit, and $56 on the pants.
The Tailor Pull On Pants fit perfectly. But they are super tight to get on when going over my hips. I’ve had three kids, so my hips are wider than they used to be. Yet I’ve never owned another pair of pants with this issue. That being said, they have both front pockets and back button pockets and look great on, so I’m totally keeping them even though I don’t normally buy black clothing for myself.
The Roya Bodysuit did not work for me at all. For starters, it’s white. I have three kids and a dog, and white and I don’t play well together. If I loved this piece, I’d keep it and dye it another color. But it just doesn’t work for me. I’m not a huge fan of bodysuits to start with, as I like being able to go to the bathroom without extra effort unfastening clothes. The bodysuit does offer two rows of snaps in the crotch to help alleviate this issue. But the high cut leg openings didn’t flatter me. And the extra material in the torso meant it didn’t fit at all. Even snapped on the shortest setting, I had enough material to get the top of the leg openings to my bust, which is not a look I’m going for any time.
The Kate was harder for me to decide. I love the army green color, and the thick fabric has lots of stretch and wears super comfortably. The snaps make it super easy to fasten. But it also has a dropped crotch, and I didn’t know how that would look on me. The cropped leg length is also something I avoid. (Some other colors of the Kate apparently come with longer pant lengths.) Either my ankles get cold during the winter, or I invariably forget to apply sunscreen and they get burned in the summer. I put the jumpsuit on anyway. And it turns out I can forgive those both things. I will still let the pant cuff hems out and maybe even add some contrasting fabric because I hate short length pants. But it’s so dang comfortable I don’t care. I have some trouble getting out of this one piece suit, which isn’t much of an issue as I never want to take it off. It’s extremely roomy on me, which means I had no trouble layering a hooded sweatshirt with a kangaroo pocket underneath so I could wear the short-sleeved jumpsuit even in colder temps. A total steal at this price point.
While it’s not for everyone, in general, I’m pleased with my mystery box experience. I got a big wardrobe refresh without spending a ton of money. And I got items I will definitely wear and love that I never would’ve ordered on my own.
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