Universal Standard Stretch Linen Review

This article may contain affiliate links; if you click on a shopping link and make a purchase I may receive a commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Universal Standard Stretch Linen Review by Wardrobe Oxygen

Last summer, Universal Standard launched their stretch linen collection and I was lucky enough to be gifted several pieces to showcase and review for you. I shared a positive review because I truly felt the fabric and quality was great. But the styles weren't really me. I gifted the pants, shorts, and tunic to another. I kept the jumpsuit and dress, but mid-summer realizing I had yet wear the jumpsuit beyond my bedroom, I donated it. I kept the dress, but didn't wear it often because while I loved the whole concept, the color was NOT for me.

Universal Standard relaunched stretch linen this summer, bringing back some past styles, adding a few new styles, and updating the color choices. Universal Standard offered to send me the Dawn linen tunic; I asked if I could also have this year's version of the Dune dress and they agreed so I decided to do an updated Universal Standard stretch linen review.

I wanted to know how different the fit and sizing of the original Dune versus current seasons of Dune would be, if the fabric was the same, and if it all was the same I wanted it in black because dang if I had the Dune in black last summer I would have been wearing it every week. And while I didn't keep my linen tunic from last summer, I remember it enough (and have photos of me wearing it) to give a decent comparison review.

You may also like: how to soften linen clothing

Universal Standard Stretch Linen Review

The first thing to know about Universal Standard's linen is it is a linen blend. Made from 55% Linen, 42% Rayon, and 3% Elastane this linen is a tight weave, lightweight, soft, malleable, slightly stretchy, and less prone to wrinkling. Some folks aren't down with a linen blend; I think these pieces are still quite comfortable in the super humid and hot Washington DC area, where I live.

The Universal Standard linen says machine wash, lay flat to dry, but my sage green Dune linen shirt dress from last summer I washed in the machine and put on a hanger or just threw over a curtain rod to dry and it turned out great. I have not found a need to iron or steam Universal Standard linen after laundering. I also haven't found it to shrink, and a linen dress from another brand I regularly feature I washed on cold and line dried and it turned into a tunic. So yeah, I dig Universal Standard linen.

Universal Standard's linen collection consists of eight pieces – four dresses, one jumpsuit, a pair of pull-on pants, a pair of pull-on shorts, and a long-sleeved button-front tunic with a high-low hem. Comparing last year's Universal Standard linen to this year's, it seems they used the same patterns (for the items they continued from last year), and the fabric is the same weight and composition.

The Universal Standard linen collection is available in the same size as everything else from this brand – sizes 00-40, or in letter sizing, 4XS-4XL. I am 5'3″ tall and usually a size 14 in other brands; with Universal Standard, I am almost always an XS.

Universal Standard Stretch Linen Review
The Dawn Linen Hi Low Tunic as seen on the Universal Standard website. Different colors from last year but IMO, not the most fun or on-trend choices.

Universal Standard Dawn Linen Hi Low Tunic Review

I dream of being the kind of person who stands on a shore in an oversized linen shirt, a pair of perfectly worn slouchy denim shorts, a scarf expertly tied over my hair, wearing aviators that do not slide down my sweaty nose as I enjoy the ocean breeze with plenty of free time (and I suppose a beach house?). Anyway, I buy pieces of linen and I always look messy, not effortlessly chic.

Universal Standard Stretch Linen Review
Last summer, where the Dawn linen tunic and Juniper shorts, both in white, both in size XS.

Last year with the white Dawn linen tunic, I put the shirt on feeling very sipping coffee on my Fire Island beach house deck at sunrise but then I saw the photos and the white just looked like an oversized not remarkable shirt, not slouchy oversized “oh this thing.” I felt it would be better on someone else.

When Universal Standard offered the Dawn hi low linen tunic to me, I looked at the colors (I don't remember last year's options beyond white) and was really meh-ed out. The caramel isn't bad, but the others weren't doing it for me so I asked for black. And I am so glad I did.

Universal Standard Stretch Linen Review

I would not normally choose a black linen shirt. I think of my light blue one from Chico's I will be wearing into my third spring, the white linen pants from Talbots I've been wearing on repeat this season, I think of linen as light and cool and breezy and black isn't very breezy.

Universal Standard Stretch Linen Review

But black can be elegant, and in the same size XS as the tunic I got last year in white, the black feels right, not oversized. It feels cool like the angsty BFF of Coastal Grandmother. (link to Southern Living) It feels more me with white linen pants, and this voluminous top seems to work with full pants, while light colors look as though I got caught in the clothesline on a windy day.

Universal Standard Stretch Linen Review

This length can be untucked or tied or left open. At my height it's a length that can work as a swim coverup. The sleeves are too long, but I plan to wear it in that “oh this thing” manner so that works. If that bothers you, the sleeves are full enough you could have a tailor trim them to a different length (I think cutting off the cuff to have a straight hem at the length you desire is a great option).

The Dawn Hi Low Linen Tunic from Universal Standard retails for $98. It is available in sizes 4XS-4XL and in four colors. It has horn buttons and a subtle horizontal seam at bottom half of the torso. This detail gives weight to the tunic so it falls nicely from the bust instead of tenting out. It is far less visible on the black version of this shirt than the white one I had last year.

Universal Standard Dune Linen Dress Review

Last year, Universal Standard didn't let me pick the pieces, they just confirmed my size and send items for my review. I received the Dune dress in a sage green color, the same exact color as my dining room. A gorgeous color, but not an Alison color. I received it in size XS and even though it was not a color I would normally wear, I wore that dress quite a lot over the summer, and even packed it for some travel.

Universal Standard Dune linen dress
Wearing the Universal Standard Dune dress last summer for a sponsored post for Soma bras
Universal Standard Dune linen dress
Wearing the Dune linen shirt dress for my original US linen review

The Dune shirt dress was worn with espadrilles and a cute crocheted bag, it was worn with Birkenstocks and a straw hat, it was worn with my Cariuma sneakers and a baseball cap, it doubled as a swim coverup and was often a house dress. I even wore it as a duster over my NTN bodysuit. And the true test of a fashion influencer's closet… it was kept even when no longer available for sale to enjoy wearing the following summer.

Universal Standard Dune linen dress

So when Universal Standard offered the tunic in the color of my choice (black, like my heart… har har), I also asked for the Dune dress in black. And I am happy to say the fit is the same, the fabric is the same, the cut is the same, the quality is the same. And dang I wish Universal Standard would be more adventurous with their colors.

Universal Standard Dune linen dress

I mean, black is chic. This year's Sea Moss is a richer, deeper color than last year's green, and the Cabernet is lovely. But where is the rust/copper sort of color that makes so many people look all summery and glowy? How about a really fantastic fuschia that would rock with black or white, but also brown and olive and mustard? And a rich navy linen is always timeless. While I love the black for the tunic, I wish I had more joyful a color in the Dune linen shirt dress.

Universal Standard Dune linen dress

That doesn't mean I won't be wearing the HECK out of this dress all summer long. I have already worn it on three occasions. When I went for election judge training on a rainy day, I wore it with a statement necklace from Chico's and beige clog-inspired sandals (these are similar). I sat for hours in that classroom yet at the end didn't look like a paper bag. It's a good summer dress.

Universal Standard Dune linen dress

The Dune Linen Shirt Dress from Universal Standard retails for $124, It is available in sizes 4XS-4XL and in five colors. It has side pockets as well as breast pockets. There is a hidden snap at the bust to keep it closed. The buttons are horn. It is unlined.

You may also like: My review of the original Universal Standard linen collection

My Thoughts on Universal Standard's Stretch Linen Collection

And it makes me look at the Universal Standard stretch linen collection with fresh eyes. When Universal Standard relaunched their linen this season, I didn't even take a look because I was so underwhelmed by last year's collection. But after wearing that Dune dress and trying this year's pieces, I see the value of this collection.

I am especially intrigued by the Promenade jumpsuit, which has a much fuller leg than last year's linen jumpsuit. This means it will be less likely to bag out in the bum and will have a dressier effect. And with the adjustable straps it likely will have a better fit on a rage of heights and shapes. I was chatting with a friend and she was thinking of wearing it for upcoming graduations and I think it could be a good choice for such events.

I love Universal Standard, I think it's clear. I just wish they would take a few more risks like they did in the past. The occasional interesting detail, and colors that feel more modern, joyful, and elevated. A piece doesn't have to be the color of a dining room to be a wardrobe staple, and folks of all clothing sizes deserve to have joyful options in breathable fabrics.

While Universal Standard gifted me these two pieces of linen, this is not a paid review nor was this written for compensation or in exchange for the gift. However, I have used affiliate links in this piece. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may make a commission. This is the way I prefer to make income from this site because it means I am paid only if I make smart choices for this community, write quality reviews, and remain honest with you. If you'd like to know more about the business of blogging you may click this link.

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

Did you like what you just read?

Consider tapping here to buy me a coffee in thanks. The best gift you can give a content creator is the gift of sharing. Consider sharing this article on Facebook or Pinterest. Thank you so much for your support!

Similar Posts


  1. I live in the South and have always worn white pants with a flowy black top in the summer. I think it is so chic. I love your look with the knotted black top and the dress looks great on you, too.

  2. I had ordered the black linen Dune dress a few weeks back. I decided to order the Dune in the Light Blue and the Dark Red color through your links to try as well. I think that the Dune will be a great dress for me to wear to work as well as for casual wear throughout the summer. I think that the Light Blue color could work for the Coastal Grandmother look that is popular on social media now. I am wondering what you think about Coastal Grandmother style, Alison?
    I agree that Universal Standard should include navy as a color choice. I find that many retailers do not include navy clothing, but instead always have black, along with whatever colors of the year that they think will sell. I wish that navy was always included, since it is a basic color. Some of us prefer navy in the summer, instead of black. Have you considered doing a post about retailers that frequently offer navy as a color choice for their clothing? Or a post about navy as the base color for outfits that are currently offered for sale by retailers?

  3. Thank you for this review! It’s helpful to see what a non-petite dress looks like on someone my height! I found last year’s ocean blue (a muted navy) Dune shirt dress on final sale in 3XS–which is great because 3XS is sold out in all of this year’s colors–and took the plunge. My Genevas are 2XS-P but based on the reviews I’m pretty confident this will fit.

  4. As a 5’0” woman who fits into 12, 14, 16 depending on the brand, I find US clothing impossible to fit. Everything is always too long and too voluminous in the torso for me. I also find the shoulders too wide. The only US categories that work for me are the jeans (though the thighs always blow out unless I reinforce with patches) and the T-shirts. I also usually hate their color options. I love the black linen dress and I’m so tempted to try it, but I know it will be too long and I will look like I’m wearing a sack. I bought some linen button front tunics from Uniqlo a couple of months ago – looks like they are sold out now. I got black, white, and COBALT BLUE, which is absolutely gorgeous. I bought a dark TEAL loose linen shift dress from J.Jill the other day – I found it afterwards online in petite, but I made the regular work. I think it will shrink in length if I dry it. I also recently found a black linen blazer with ruched 3/4 sleeves at Banana Republic, and white pull on linen trousers at J.Jill. I noticed Chicos had linen button front shirts in highlighter green, orange, aqua, and other colors! I’d like to know who is in charge of selecting the color ways at US!

  5. I bought the hi lo tunic in the chambray blue last year in my regular size, and I wish I had sized down. it is really just too big. One of the hassles of buying from Australia is the cost of returns is not worth exchanging the size :(.

  6. Any plans to order the newer linen dress? It’s not a shirt dress, but it does have pockets. I’d love to see a try on!

  7. The black Dawn dress and the tunic look really fabulous on you! I’m 5’2” so I’m usually worried about length and the need for tailoring when ordering a dress like this. But the length looks just right on you. Loved the comment about looking like you got caught in the clothesline on a windy day! So true and funny!

  8. Thank you for the in-depth review & comparison! I will admit that, even as an international customer, I have bit the bullet & ordered fom Universal Standard before. However, even though this collection is all natural fibres (I don’t wear synthetics up top, the only thing stopping me from ordering again is the colour collection – I agree with you Allie!

    It’s not quite as bad as the ‘baby food beige’ shades you’ve pointed out in the past, but there’s not enough depth & warmth to these colours for me (I know you don’t subscribe to the seasonal subtypes but I’m a Deep Autumn). Let’s see shades like copper, rust, goldenrod, plum purple, bold red & teal! Oh if we could get linen pieces in Universal Standard’s ‘Storm’ & ‘Deep Sea’ shades of teal green/ petrol blue, I’d buy them all lol!

  9. I love black linen, and your examples are no exception! I’m so tired of hearing people (not you) say black is unflattering, washes you out, etc. Black is my favorite color to wear and I’m going to continue doing so. Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Given the fact that half my closet is Everlane, I love these shapes and colors!! That said, even Everlane is getting more adventurous with their colors these days. I love COS too and they’re also offering bright colors this year as well as their traditional neutrals.

    You look fabulous in black!

  11. I bought the tunic last year, and my ‘normal’ US size was still a little too oversized for my taste. I attempted to dry it in the dryer, and to it’s credit it did not shrink at all… I now use it as a swim coverup and wash/machine dry it about once a month, and still no shrinking or fading a year later!

  12. Thank you for the updated review! I skipped it last year, but this time I went for the black tunic as well and agree with your assessment of quality and color. 🙂 I love the look of the Dune on you. I’ve had one in my cart for a while, just trying to decide between XS & S. Do you find the Dune sleeves snug at all? I struggle with things being too tight on my upper arms so tempted to go with my larger size, but worried it will be too big everywhere else!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *