Shopping Hits and Misses: Universal Standard, Nordstrom, Talbots, Banana Republic, and More

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Welcome to the latest edition of things that arrived in Allie's mail and whether or not she liked them.  For reference, I am 5'3″ and vary between regular and petite sizing. I wear a size 12, occasionally 14 and usually a Large. Below I will share what I ordered or was gifted to me by a brand, note whether it was a gift, the size I got, my feelings on the item, and a few pictures to help you see details that may be missing on the brand's website.

Universal Standard Tesino Washed Jersey Dress – XSP

When Universal Standard launched their petites line they sent me several pieces to review. This is one of them.  This is the Forest Green color.  I know many of you have been asking how this dress fits.

a universal standard tesino dress review a universal standard tesino washed dress a universal standard tesino dress back view a universal standard tesino washed dress petite review

The fabric is stellar, the same refined knit of their Tee Rex shirts.  The green is utterly gorgeous, hard to see since the lighting isn't the best but it's super pretty.  The back of the dress is longer than the front, which is especially nice when you have curves, round rear and/or hips.  I think this is a dress that would be more flattering on a larger and curvier frame.  I don't think my current body is doing this dress justice and I think 2017 Summer Allie would have freaking LOVED this dress and would have worn it every week from May to September.  But for 2018 Summer Allie it's… well it's not a hit but I did wear it last week with my Cole Haan sneakers and a few long necklaces so it's not a complete miss either.

Universal Standard Jersey Knot Top – XS

I received a gift certificate from Universal Standard when I was in their petites video and I bought this top with part of it.  This top does not come in petite; I figured it would be a nice alternative to a basic t-shirt this summer, creating a nice outfit with white jeans or a pair of shorts.

a universal standard jersey knot top a universal standard jersey knot top review

I am clearly a petite in Universal Standard.  This top is too long to leave untucked with shorts, and it's a bit too roomy in the shoulders and torso. My bra strap shows. I wonder if it was petite it would lie in a better place to hide the strap. Sure, I could wear it with a strapless bra or somehow connect the bra to the t-shirt without having it show; but that's a pain and my goal was to have an easy top to throw on in a jiffy and look more polished than I would in a standard t-shirt. If you are taller, if you have a smaller bust so you have pretty delicate bra straps, or if you don't care about your bra strap showing this is a cute t-shirt. But it's not what I specifically was looking for so it's a miss.

Banana Republic Stretch 5″ Short – 14

I've bought Banana Republic shorts in the past and like the quality and fit. I was looking for a dressier short, something I could wear with a cute top and sandals for a casual summer party or running around town that was more elevated than denim. This fabric is super stretchy, doesn't wrinkle, and stays crisp.

a banana republic shorts review a banana republic red shorts a banana republic shorts back view

I ordered these in 12 and 14. I always recommend to size up with shorts. The 12 fit, but they FIT too well, showing all the curves, lumps and bumps.  The 14 may ride a bit lower and looser, but it makes for a more flattering and comfortable short. They say they need to be dry cleaned, but I washed them on gentle in a lingerie bag, line dried, and steamed them to get out any wrinkles. Hit!

(and for those who are going to ask, the tank is from Caslon and it too is pretty great and only $19. This is a large. I also have it in white but found the white to be thinner and to not fit the same/deeper neck and long straps. This stripe tank has been washed and dried many times and holds up beautifully.).

Banana Republic Stripe Soft Ponte Twist-Front Dress – L

I don't have photos of me in this dress because I sent it back as soon as I got it.

Screenshot 2018 06 03 14.48.18 Screenshot 2018 06 03 14.48.39

This looks like a t-shirt that has a bit of it caught in the waistband of your underwear. If you look at the video of the model walking in it, it looks like that on her too.  But I ignored that thinking it looked like an easy summer dress with some flattering ruching. Nope, looks like a wardrobe malfunction. Miss.

AG ‘Prima' Skinny Jeans – 32

I got these jeans when I visited the Trunk Club Clubhouse.  I never tried AG Jeans before; they don't go above a 32 and they just seemed to be “skinny person” jeans to me. I was surprised that a 32 fit, and fit really really well.  I would never have tried this brand or this style if it weren't for Kelsey, my Trunk Club stylist.

a ag jeans prima review a ag jeans review prima a ag jeans prima back view

With purchases from Nordstrom and the Trunk Club Clubhouse, basic alterations are free. I had these shortened to a length that would work with sneakers and flats and they mailed them to me when ready. The denim is thick but stretchy and holds its stretch. I've worn these jeans on a plane, that's how stretchy and comfy they are.  For these photos, they came straight out of the dryer. I like them so much I'm tempted to get another pair in a different color or wash. Hit!

J. Crew ‘Parke' Stretch Linen Blend Blazer – 14

This is another purchase I made when I visited the Trunk Club Clubhouse. Kelsey pulled this and I was ready to say no just because of the color.  I don't do yellow, it's not a flattering color for me. But I tried it on a found I LOVED it!  It looks great with a striped t-shirt, with a message tee, with denim, with white, with navy, with neutrals, with so many things.  I like that the lining is white so it's easy to roll the sleeves.  It fits well, it's not as heavy and bulky as a twill or suiting blazer yet it still can look professional.

a j crew parke linen blazer yellow a j crew parke linen blazer a j crew linen blazer review

However, I have only worn it once.  I got it so late in the season and since I no longer work in an office environment I have no need to sweat in a blazer right now.  And I don't know what shape my body will be or what my personal style will be like when the temperatures cool so I sort of regret this purchase. So the piece is a hit but the timing is a miss.

Talbots Stripe Appliqued Tee – L

I've already worn this striped tee on the blog and if you follow me on Instagram Stories you've seen it several times. So clearly it's a hit but I never gave it a proper review. Also every time I wear it someone asks where I got it.

a talbots striped shirt heart applique

It's from Talbots, so it's well made.  The heart is an embroidered patch that is securely sewn on.  I have put it in the washer and dryer a couple times and it hasn't shrunk, bled, or done anything weird.  It's a good buy. If you love striped shirts, this is one that's a little different but not too twee or trendy to not be a favorite for years.  And it looks cute with the Banana Republic shorts I featured above. Hit!

Talbots Bateau Tee – Summer Stripe – L

I was so psyched for this shirt and asked Talbots if I could have one.  They were kind enough to gift it to me. I've worn it with their white Perfect Crops that I wore in this blog post, with their pink skinny ankle jeans… but I don't love it.  It's thinner and more fitted than the striped tee with the heart on it and especially in white, it feels a bit too snug. On top of it, the stripes being so narrow gives this a bit of a juvenile feel. Like, there's no way in heck I'd wear this shirt with overalls and under a denim jacket, I look like one of Emerson's classmates.

a talbots rainbow stripe t shirt a talbots bateau tee rainbow

I wish I sized up, then I may not feel this way.  But it's a top I pull out of the drawer, put on, then change my mind and put back. I wish the stripes were wider, that would give it a more sophisticated/non-Carters onesie feel to it. Hey Talbots, I LOVE that you embraced the rainbow trend, I recommend bringing this back this fall but in the fabric and cut of the applique tee and with wider stripes.  I'll buy it, and I bet a bunch of people who never before wore Talbots would buy it and it would become a hit and would be on trendy fashion sites and styled all trendy with mom jeans and the shoe of the moment. But this one… this one is just off and therefore for me personally, a miss.

Talbots Colored Denim Cropped Jegging – 14P

These were also a gift from Talbots. I thought they'd be skinny jeans, but these are true jeggings. They are lighter in weight than jeans, much more stretchy, and more fitted.  Not a bad thing, but not the best thing when you have a thick curvy bottom and wanted to wear these like jeans with shorter tops.

a talbots colored denim crop jegging a talbots pink cropped jeans a pink talbots jeans

The color is gorgeous, they wash up really nicely, and I think if you sized up or didn't have such a soft and solid bottom half they could be fantastic.  I usually wear these jeans with an untucked top or a jacket that provides more coverage, though they did make a cameo with a half-tucked tee in this blog post.  I do like them; they hold their shape, they're comfy, and they launder like a dream.  So while not what I wanted, for what they are they are a hit.

Needham Lane Tobago Berry Button Front Caftan – XL

I've featured Needham Lane on the blog before. It's a small company in New England designed and run by a husband-wife team. They go to India to source their fabrics, and the quality of their pajamas, caftans, and other items is stellar.  I love the idea of a lightweight caftan in summer to throw on when bumming around the house or to use as a beach coverup.

a needham lane caftan review a needham lane caftan a caftan needham lane

I've worn this caftan to death since I received it (it was a gift from the brand).  it's a lightweight soft cotton, not the kind that gets linty. Each time you wash it (this has been washed and machine dried at least 6 times before these photos) it gets softer.  It is lightweight but not transparent, has pockets, and buttons to adjust the neckline. Needham Lane has a variety of caftans with different necklines, prints, and lengths.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Allie,

    Can you do something about the comments? What I am talking about is how the application, in an attempt to justify the text, is breaking words apart. It continues words on the next line, but it doesn’t do it by properly hyphenating at syllable breaks. Instead it awkwardly chops up words. I find it quite annoying.


    1. Hi Chris, there was a major WordPress update and this happened with it. I am aware of it and trying to remedy it, but it’s pretty complicated and out of my scope. Seeing what I can do.

  2. I’m currently waiting for a US order to arrive and I am much more excited to get my forest green v-rex now! The Tesino dress looks so sleek on you… I keep imagining it as an excellent layering piece in cooler weather.

  3. I like your yellow pants but the blazer not so much so.

    You’ve got me ready to consider red pants or shorts. I do sometimes take things like that to the dry cleaner, particularly if I wear them places where they don’t immediately get dirty, because I think they stay pressed long when they’ve been dry cleaned.

    1. I find red pants and shorts to be so versatile, it’s a great way to add color to a primarily neutral wardrobe. And good point about dry cleaning!

  4. Love these posts—they are so helpful!! You look great in those red shorts! Seems like you’ve mentioned them before b/c I found myself recently looking for a nicer pair of shorts and had those in mind. I ended up at Talbots though (shopping there again b/c of you, Ali!) and found some chambray shorts with scalloped legs. They are a 5 inch in-seem, which I would have previously thought too short for me, but they are super cute and look nice. I also have the navy striped dress from Banana Republic in a medium and like it. As another poster mentioned, it hides my tummy so it’s been a good choice for me personally.

    1. Oh I know what shorts you got, they’re super cute! And I do think if I was taller/different shape that BR dress would have worked better for me!

  5. I have the BR twist front dress and I love it. I am 5’8” with a long torso and the twist sits higher up on me than shown on the model and really highlights my hourglass figure and hides my tummy pooch. People always ask me if I’ve lost weight when I wear it. Sorry it didn’t work for you. Dresses are so figure specific.

    1. they really are, and I bet if I was taller the twist would be in a better location. I’m glad it worked for you it’s a great fabric and I bet fab on you!

  6. I always appreciate your honesty and willingness to expose all the hits and misses (and lumps and bulges that go with the misses). You help us be our best selves … and sometimes talk me into being a bolder, more colorful version of my best me.

    Maybe someday you’ll even talk me into exposing my flabby upper arms!

  7. Love the caftan so will check them out! Also, didn’t mean to unsubscribe from your newsletter, but just didn’t want to receive an email letting me know when you post. I usually check-in multiple times a week and am trying to cut down on what comes into my inbox. Love that you’re posting links of things to read/stuff to checkout on the weekend vs. putting it in your newsletter! But will subscribe again to the newsletter.

    1. I’m really sorry the newsletter subscribers got stuck on the RSS email list. Unsubscribing with the right thing to do. When I bring back a newsletter, I’ll be sure to let everyone know so they can re-subscribe! 🙂

  8. Allie, these posts ae so fun! I love the caftan, as well as the other items. And, you look great!

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