Clothes for Active Pursuits
- What: Universal Standard Athleisure Mystery Box
- When: February 2023
- Why: Big discounts on size-inclusive clothing
- Where: Universal Standard
I normally shop at fast-fashion stores. With my sizes fluctuating a lot thanks to three pregnancies in four years, and spending the majority of my time with kids, I don’t spend $50 on a t-shirt that could get ruined after only a few uses. But once all my kids entered school full time, I decided to get more selective about the clothing I choose.
Enter 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. Instead, you enter your size. Sometimes you enter one size, but depending on the type of Mystery Box, you may have the option to enter a size for both tops and bottoms. The company then selects the specific items and colors and sends them your way. You won’t know what comes in the box until it arrives.
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.
On February 15th, I ordered my Athleisure Box. I’ve gotten the Athleisure Box for two years running, and loved every piece every time. I knew before the boxes got released I would be getting another Athleisure Box. In both previous years (2022 and 2021), I’ve gotten a sweatshirt, a Next-To-Naked tank top, and a pair of leggings in the box. While they aren’t things I would choose for myself, I wear all three constantly. I’ve even bought a third tank of the same type in a different color because I wore the others so often. Even with this year’s prices increases, I knew I would get my money’s worth and more from this box. Although I had early access on February 14th, I waited a day to order to use a discount code good for ten percent off the purchase price of the box.
Despite the five day difference in order times (I also ordered a Now Trending Box during their limited time offer), my Athleisure Box shipped first. I’m 5’7” tall and weigh 150 pounds. I ordered both boxes in 2XS, which corresponds to a size 6 to 8 in most brands. But although I got shipping notices for the two boxes four days apart, both arrived together. For starters, these items arrive in a shipping bag, not an actual box. Mine were packaged separately since I had placed two orders several days apart, so I had no trouble identifying what came in each package.
Inside my Athleisure box, things got a little more interesting. I received the Game Tank in iron, the Spot Me Textured High Rise Pocket Legging in blue marl, and a second pair of leggings labeled Barre Leggings with Pocket in silver pine color. With some website and fabric comparisons, I determined that the second leggings were actually the Ronda Stirrup Pocket Leggings in aquamarine and the tank matched the AirKnit All Day Tank in nutmeg. I paid $114 for these three items. The value totaled $272, with the Spot Me Leggings at $98, the tank at $56, and the Ronda Leggings at $118.
I don’t love the color on the AirKnit Tank. But I also don’t hate it. Black or white would be much worse for me. This brownish tan color (called iron on the package itself) is definitely a neutral shade. I thought, holding it up, that it would fit a bit loose and flowy. Once I tried it on, it hugs my skin and has no extra fabric at all, while still not being stretched tight. I don’t anticipate it going into my clothes I wear out of the house collection, but it should work great for exercising and other pursuits where I don’t care if my shirt gets sweaty or dirty.
The Spot Me Leggings also concerned me, as the waistband is a good three to four inches smaller than the same size Ronda leggings in my box. I didn’t have a lot of hope that they would fit. But it turns out the ribbed fabric is super stretchy. I had no trouble getting into or out of them. While the fabric stretches, it doesn’t look bad. As an added bonus, I already own a pullover hoodie in the same blue marl color, so now I have a complete look in head to toe blue marl, even if I didn’t get both pieces in my mystery purchase.
The Ronda legging has a super smooth fabric, much like the Next-To-Naked tanks I already own. And I liked the aquamarine color. It has four pockets, two front pockets and two with a top flap above the knee on the front. The abundance of pockets makes it look sort of like cargo pants mated with leggings. These leggings also had a weird hole in the back of the ankle, which due to the wording on the label, I couldn’t figure out. Until I tried them on. It turns out these are stirrup leggings. I don’t have a particular fondness for the eighties, so I never would’ve pulled the trigger on buying these for myself. But they do have pockets big enough to hold my phone. The foot poses an issue for me, as the seam that connects the bottom of the pant leg to the stirrup foot portion has zero stretch. I have trouble getting my foot through this part, and again trying to remove them. Once on, they have a lot of length in the leg. That’s definitely better than the opposite problem in a stirrup situation, but I had some bagginess issues. Some strategic tugging fixed it, but if I pulled them tight, the waistband sits firmly around my bra band underneath my chest. So the extra fabric has to go somewhere. Given the price point and how comfortable they are (plus, pockets!), they definitely fall into the keep pile. But I will have to see how often I reach for them given the tight seam along the ankle area.
I’m keeping all three items from this box, just like I did for the past two years as well. I won’t hesitate to buy another Athleisure box again next year when Mystery Box Season rolls around again.
Overall, I enjoyed 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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