Universal Standard Review

Fashion Advice

universal standard pop up dcUniversal Standard is doing a road trip across the country and this weekend they came to DC, with two days in the Pentagon City Nordstrom, and yesterday they made a one-day pop-up shop down the street from Union Market. I HAD to go, I've had mixed experiences with shopping Universal Standard online and wanted to be able to try a large variety of pieces to try for fit and quality. Also, I know Universal Standard is one of the brands you readers ask about the most. With chic minimalistic clothing in sizes 10-28 and their Universal Fit Liberty program, Universal Standard is an appealing fashion retailer for cusp and plus sized women.

universal standard dc popupThe pop-up shop was in an empty storefront and very bare bones. Two tables at the door to place orders, make purchases and chat with staff. A few cubes holding folded denim, and several rolling racks with just a handful of each of their pieces from their collection. In the second room was four dressing areas – large bent black boards making triangles of fitting areas with an IKEA LACK table in each to hold garments. Outside the dressing spaces were four full-length mirrors. Plenty of staff to help bring sizes, offer consultation, and keep the store very organized. They were all super nice, dressed in Univeral Standard, and clearly passionate about the brand.

Since I had Karl and Emerson with me and there was a line for the dressing areas, I didn't try on everything in the store. I mainly stuck to things I could see myself buying and adding to my personal wardrobe, plus a few things Emerson picked out. For reference, I am 5'3″ and usually wear a 14/16, 14W, and usually need a short or petite in jeans and petite in tailored dresses or blazers.

universal standard raquette cashmere sweaterThe Raquette Cashmere Stripe Sweater is a piece I've been drooling over for a while but was hesitant since online it looks black and white but the description says black and beige. They didn't have a Small available, this is a Medium. This is not like the Halogen Cashmere sweaters where you can see your bra if it's a lightweight color, this is thick but not stiff, super soft, and I rubbed it against itself and it didn't shed or pill. And yes, it is beige, or an off-white color with black but it looks chic, not dirty or weird.

The Misa Dress, which comes in this olive/camo color, and black. First thing I wanted to know, do those sleeves as the waist actually work? Nope, they're sewn closed at the seam. This extra sleeve trend has become more commonplace this season while when Universal Standard first came out with it I found it weird… but intriguing. This is the size Small. It's soft yet thick, feels good, and it's one of those pieces that feels like sweatpants but looks cool and purposeful. The price seems high until you feel and see the quality. I really like this dress, I could see myself wearing it now like this with booties, in winter with black fleece tights and Chelsea boots or even with liquid leggings and boots.

I have the Geneva Dress and I think it's a badass silhouette, but the heavier knit and my short stature has made it hard for me to style in a flattering manner.  It's too casual for heeled sandals, stumpy with sneakers.  When I wore this on the blog, I struggled, like trashed my bedroom struggled and decided to just have fun with my favorite booties and denim jacket.  But I've not worn it outside the house since, I think it's a better dress for a taller woman.  I saw a woman at the pop-up wearing it in the same green shade I own, with a long-sleeved top underneath in the same color, bright magenta tights, and ankle boots that were… I think dark brown.  And this sounds wacky but the look was so fun yet so chic.  She said she has three of this dress and it's a uniform of hers, and it's a fabulous uniform for her.  It made me want to pull the dress out and give it another go.

Instead, I tried the Crepe Augusta Geneva Dress.  Essentially the same dress as the Geneva but in crepe (with a hint of stretch) which makes the dress not only dressier but have a better drape.  The dress comes in Black, White, Aubergine, and Mustard.  After my post about how to wear citron and mustard, I just HAD to try the Mustard.  They didn't have Mustard in Small, this is a Medium.  I fell in love with this dress when I tried it on, and even loved the color (I thought it worked with my dark hair and red lipstick).  However looking at the photos I think a Small would be better.  Unlike the regular Geneva dress, this is one that could be a wardrobe workhorse.  Wear to work with heeled boots, out with friends with a denim jacket and pair of trainers, to a wedding with heeled sandals, in the winter with a blazer, scarf, and tall boots.  It would be a great travel dress because of its versatility and being a fabric that repels wrinkles.

The Regina Gown intrigued me, the drape looked so beautiful. I should have known I am just too too short for it. This is a size Medium. This dress also comes in white and mustard. Because I am so short, I couldn't truly see the drape of the gown. I mean the model is 5'9″ on the website and the dress is a tad long on her too. If I hemmed it I would lose a lot of what makes it look so dramatic (as well as a lot of the back slit). But if you're taller, this is one of those subtle elegant dresses you can wear with sandals and hoop earrings to a beachside wedding, with a statement necklace and formal shoes to an evening affair, and the white one would be a gorgeous wedding dress.


Emerson saw the back of the Tenna Washed Jersey Maxi Dress and wanted to see it on. Even on the hanger, I knew it wasn't going to work but was willing to take a chance. I believe this is a size Medium, I forgot to note it. Yeah, no this is not my jam. The shoulders are twisted, but instead of looking cool it looks like a sewing error. The straps on the back are cool, but they didn't line up for me to have my bra hidden. And the dress is too shapeless for me, I didn't like the effect. Also, the jersey looks casual, this is the kind of dress that I have no idea where someone wears it. Too casual for an evening affair, too exposed for daytime…

Emerson also asked me to try on the Carver Top, she loved the mix of jersey and leather. And this “matte resin block” on the top does look a lot like leather to point I had to double-check the material. This is a size Small. It's a pretty cool top, a nice alternative to a basic t-shirt and a good price too. It's refined, nice quality, it could possibly be worn over a white button-front shirt or a sheer turtleneck for a winter effect, and the top is long enough to wear with leggings or jeggings. This top isn't really my thing, but I think it's really nice quality and stylish for another.

I've been checking out the Wheaton Sweater Dress in magenta for a while. I feared it would be itchy, and I didn't know if at my height it would be a tunic or a dress. Well it's not as itchy as I thought it would be, but if you get warm easily or have sensitive skin it may bother you a bit (it's no Raquette sweater). This is a size Medium. I would not feel comfortable wearing this with bare legs, but could see myself wearing it with opaque black tights or leggings. The color is even more stunning in person, but I wonder how the sweater would hold up after several wears and cleanings.

I tried Universal Standard Jeans before and just felt too short for them. However, at the Pop Up they had the Siene Jeans in both lengths and a ton of sizes. These are size 14 in the 27″ length, distressed black. These are some really well-made jeans, designed for curves. They are very high waist, but it felt really comfortable and I thought flattered my curves nicely The fabric is thick but stretchy and the jeans felt like they were molding to my body. The denim quality was really apparent when compared to the grey jeans I wore to the pop-up. The jeans I wore cost me around $65 and they looked a LOT cheaper than the Universal Standards. The only thing I didn't love was the pockets, which ended up looking a bit cheap due to size and placement. I know a lot of you have tried Universal Standard jeans, let me know if one needs to size down because of stretching out through the day so I know whether to get a 14 or 12. Because these jeans are AH-MAY-ZING.

I bumped into reader Kate at the pop-up shop and she said I had to try the puffer coat. I tried the Kanda Puffer in black, size Small. This is a weird yet cool coat and brilliantly designed. While it looks like a kimono/wrap style, there's hidden snaps at the bottom and the neck to keep you bundled up and warm. I like that it covers the rear without looking like a sleeping bag. I found it more flattering without the neck snapped closed, but that is a good addition for when the temps drop and you care less about looking cute and more about preventing frostbite. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for those who desire a more avant-garde or styled winter coat, this is a well made, comfortable, and warm option.

I have no full-length pictures of the Talfer Cocoon Coat but boy is it gorgeous. Emerson and I both rubbed it against our cheek it was so soft and no itch factor at all. I think it looks more expensive, elegant, and dressy in person. I like the elongated cuffs, it's a cool touch while keeping you warm in the winter. They seem longer on the model, they only seemed to go a third up my forearms on my body. The size Small was a great fit, even with a sweater underneath. On me, it hit just above the knees.

I didn't buy anything at the pop-up, but after I told you all about the pop-up on Facebook, US said they wanted to send me a gift card in thanks.  Whatever I get with it I will be sure to wear more than once, photograph, and give a full review here on the blog. Have you tried Universal Standard? What has been hits and what has been a miss for you? Share in the comments and provide your usual clothing size or height and shape to help others get a gauge for the fit. I'm excited about Universal Standard, and their pop up shop made me even more of a fan. I'd like to see them succeed, and from what I heard from the staff, it sounds like more cool offerings are on the horizon for the brand!

33 Comments

33 Comments

  • Motrim January 17, 2018

    I just recently purchased the kanda puffer coat in black. I wanted so much to love this coat considering the fact that I practically obsessed about it once I saw it on the Nordstrom website. I’m kind of disappointed

  • Christine November 16, 2017

    I have bought a few tanks and tees from US and love them — easy care and very flattering. I also have the MIsa dress in camo and I just love it. It’s flattering and comfortable, which isn’t always easy to find in a winter dress. I’m thinking of getting it in black too. I signed up for the jeans in wait list and now just noticed the cocoon puffer coat comes in hunter green. Thanks, Allie, for showing us the clothes and for modeling them for us. I thought you looked fantastic in everything!

    Christine

  • Emily Johnson November 8, 2017

    I have to say the Carver top looks awesome on you! and those jeans!!

  • Queen Lucia November 8, 2017

    Just got my Katy dress in the mail yesterday, wearing it today – I LOVE IT! They get me. Think I’ll go for a pair of jeans next.

  • Alecia Ramsay November 7, 2017

    For anyone considering the jeans, SIZE DOWN. They stretched out a LOT during the day for me, to the point that the larger size was unwearable. I bought mine last year or early this year (maybe Jan/Feb?) and I noticed as well that the same size jeans in 2 different washes (the grey and the dark denim) fit like 2 different sizes.

  • Lissa Thomas November 7, 2017

    I want to know where you got the black shirt with the bell sleeves you are wearing. Absolutely love, love that top. I may have to check on the US jeans. I am on the hunt for jeans that don’t slide down when i sit or bend over. I absolutely hate that.

  • Espinosa Verona November 7, 2017

    Love the pink sweater! I love when the sweater is longer than the hips. You look great with open back dresses! Thanks for the style tips!

  • Patricia Smith November 7, 2017

    Thank you! I love Universal Standard and have several of their pieces. It helps to see how they look on a person before purchasing.

    • Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen November 7, 2017

      I plan to have more review posts with photos in the future, I agree it helps to get an idea before shopping!

  • Nadya Duke November 7, 2017

    I went to the Universal Standard pop up when it was in my town and loved a lot of what I tried. I find the Geneva dress looks best on me belted. I wore the Rubicon dress with leggings on a long flight and was happy with it. I’m also loving the Danube skirt and Mae sweater. I love the Miss dress on you! Thanks for featuring this company – I want them to thrive.

  • Jessica November 6, 2017

    I have the Meuse resin jeans and two of the ribbed tanks, and love them all. I tried the Geneva dress in both the crepe and the original version, and I so badly wanted it to work – and it just didn’t. I”m 5’4 and couldn’t walk in the dress, even when belted. I’m still eyeing that cashmere striped sweater (and now that I see it on you I am even more interested), am very curious about the faux leather tee, and I 100% love that puffer coat. I love the fact that this brand “gets” that just because I am cusp sized does not preclude me from liking interesting cuts of clothing and things that are a little more outside the standard fare that one can find elsewhere in my size.

    • Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen November 7, 2017

      Yes! That is why I want to support US, it’s nice to have a brand realize larger sized women want style variety too!

  • Tee Eff November 6, 2017

    I am on the wait list for those jeans. They look perfect for us short-curvies.

  • Michelle Van Ellis November 6, 2017

    Ali – I love those jeans on you. They look like they fit great. i am someone who is always between sizes no matter what size I am. My original purchases with US were a Geneva dress and two of their heavier weight ribbed tanks. I am usually a 2x or 3x most places, in a top, and definitely should have ordered an L instead of XL with them. I guess I didn’t trust their size charts, been burned a lot. No matter, I’m an expert in shrinking clothes when necessary! I have only since ordered a lighter weight ribbed tank in L and think I’d stick with that size. All are great for layering. I would love to hear a follow up on the jeans if you end up purchasing them.

    • Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen November 7, 2017

      I think I’ll be getting them and will be sure to have a follow-up and likely they will be in lots of outfit posts!

  • Jenny Phillips November 6, 2017

    Thanks for the review, US is definitely intriguing. Those jeans look great on you! Also, I think the woman in the Geneva dress, tights, and booties makes a cameo in the mirror of one of your Puffer coat pics! 🙂

  • Katie November 6, 2017

    I really had never even heard of the brand before, but that mustard dress is so gorgeous… I am staring HARD at it right now trying to decide if I could throw on a black belt for waist definition and a blazer and wear it to work, haha

    • Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen November 7, 2017

      A lot have said they wear it with a belt. Honestly I didn’t even think of doing that but I think it would look really nice!

  • DWJ November 6, 2017

    Dammit, I did not see your post about the pop-up shop. I totally would’ve gone because I’ve been curious about the fit too.

  • Katie November 6, 2017

    I have 2 pairs of US jeans — the Siene and the Muese (I think? with the zippers on the bottom). I have found they keep their shape throughout the day, and I love the stretch! The high waist is great for me — but that’s less forgiving if your weight yo-yos like mine has this year. I bought mine before the fit library came out, unfortunately.

  • KG November 6, 2017

    I love US for the most part. There are a few pieces that I don’t think will work (the dresses look shapeless to me) and I’m struggling with the jeans. I had a 16 and they literally fell off. I exchanged for the 14 and they are tight all over, but the waist still drags and I feel like I’m pulling up my pants all of the time. I have that faux leather T-shirt and love it, a coat, jeans, pants, the tunic/sweater, and even the fog dress to layer under things.

    • Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen November 7, 2017

      It really is a mixed bag depending on your shape and size. Some I don’t like and some I am obsessed over!

  • B_utifulMonster November 6, 2017

    I have been meaning to try US for a while. Thank you for showing us the clothes on you, it really helps!

    • Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen November 7, 2017

      My pleasure! Now that I have more time for blogging I plan to have more photos with reviews as well as my hits and misses!

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