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Universal Standard “Mystery Box” Review – March 2021

Brandi Dowell
ByBrandi DowellMar 23, 2021 | 42 comments

Universal Standard
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My Review of the Universal Standard 2021 Mystery Box

Universal Standard is a size-inclusive (00-40!) clothing brand carrying a proprietary catalog of high-quality clothing in shapes and cuts that are engineered to feel good and flatter. They have a broad range of clothing to choose from: everything from basics to dresses, jeans to outerwear!

In February, Universal Standard announced a mystery box sale that would include 11 limited-edition Mystery Boxes each containing 3 pieces starting at just $55.00 (but valued up to $708.00)!

Each box is personally curated with a selection of best sellers & never-before-seen exclusives! This year is so good, you can only have 3. It’s only fair.

This is a review of the Dresses Box for $98.00 with 3 pieces valued up to $358.00.

My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

About the Universal Standard Mystery Box

The Box: Universal Standard Mystery Box

The Cost: $55.00 to $198.00 depending on which box you choose

The Products: 3 pieces of clothing from Universal Standard. Universal Standard offers sizes from 00-40. You just select your size, and the items will be a surprise; but with emphasis on dresses.

Ships to: The U.S. for free.

Good to Know: This is NOT a rental service, nor a subscription, but rather a one-time mystery box purchase.

How does the Universal Standard Mystery Box work?

For this round of mystery boxes, Universal Standard offered 11 different boxes, each with 3 pieces in them. The cost of each box ranges depending on the types of pieces and fabrics you choose, and the value you receive will vary as well. This will be my third time around ordering a US Mystery Box (check out my reviews here and here), and since I have purchased several of their dresses on my own since discovering them (sign up for their emails- they constantly send great coupons and deals!), I was so excited by the prospect of a box full of mystery dresses! They did have a lot of other options this month, but since I am such a fan of their dresses, I decided to take my chances with this box.

Universal Standard Sizing

One thing that is a bit different with Universal Standard is their sizing. I love their ideas on Universal Sizing since it seems to be a bit more inclusive than most companies. I have never in my life been a size XS in my life, but since a 10-12 is what I typically wear, this is the size I wear when ordering from them. I have found them to be pretty true to size and even when my weight fluctuates a bit, I am always comfortable in this size range.

Mystery Box Survey

 

After submitting my order, I received a link to a survey that would tell the stylists exactly what I was looking for.

 

These are the questions that they asked on the survey. I can’t quite remember how I answered everything, but I know I was dressing for warmer weather with short sleeves and I like to keep it casual, so my answers were along those lines.

Late Box and Customer Service

Just to give you a sense of the timeline, I ordered my box on 2/9/2021 and received it on 3/17/2021. That is quite a delay, and one that I normally would have been a little upset by, but one thing that US does so well is customer service! I received several emails (on 2/24, 3/4, and again on 3/9) letting me know that they hadn’t forgotten about me and were still working on my mystery box. In fact, in the last email they sent before my box arrived about a week later they mentioned some extra goodies that I would receive just for the long wait and sent a 15% off coupon code towards my next order. I really think they went above and beyond!

 

Bonus Extras

In addition to the 15% off code in my email, I receive a bag a few days later that contained a small bottle of laundry detergent and one of their face masks.

 

Universal Standard Mask in Merlot – Retail Value $15.00 *see note

This face mask is a really nice cloth one with double layers of Jersey fabric and little slits in it that allow you to add one of the 7 filter inserts they provide you with. The mask has great coverage, and while it fits a little tight on me right now, I think it will quickly adapt to my face once the elastic stretches out a bit. Although, that may not be ideal in the long run depending on how much it stretches. Just a warning, this color did bleed when I washed it the first time in the detergent below, so it’s definitely something you may want to wash separately!

*I did link to the newer version of this mask, while it seems we did receive their older version (clever way to get rid of excess inventory?) since ours does not have the adjustable straps, so the retail value is probably not quite accurate. 

 

Soakbox Slim Set in Scentless, 3 fl oz – Retail Value $28.00

This laundry detergent is really cool, and it even came with a little mesh delicates bag, which is something I feel like I should be using more than I actually do! You mix a teaspoon per gallon of water and all you need to do is soak your garments in it then you wring them out and they are good to go. I just cut the portions down and washed the face mask in a small bowl and it came out clean! This is the unscented version, which I appreciated, but I’m definitely intrigued by the other scents they have! This little bottle is good for 18 washes.

 

Okay, so let’s get to my actual box! At the top of my box was this card with a scratch-off section which revealed that I get a free Tee Rex if I pay for $10 shipping. What a nice way to start my unboxing! Now I am going to start with my “extra” item and then get to the dresses.

 

Foundation Camisole in Black, Size XS – Retail Value $42.00

I love that their extra item was something from their Foundation line, and it’s something so basic that I think anyone can appreciate it. Even if you already have a black cami, this one is special! It has a light ribbed detail, is lightweight and thin, and it is so soft! It seems well made with adjustable straps, and while it does provide a great base to wear a top over it, it still manages to have a somewhat flowy feeling on your body. I really love this magical fabric which is a stretchy blend of 94% Modal and 6% Elastane. The long length makes it a cute option to wear underneath of a sweatshirt, too!

 

Foundation Short Sleeve Crew Neck Dress in Mocha, Size XS – Retail Value $72.00

My first dress is actually from their Foundation line also, so it features the same amazing fabric as the cami making it feel silky and smooth. It is definitely clingy, and I have to admit, I was a little nervous knowing I’d have to try this dress on seeing as I am probably at my most unhealthy weight right now with lots of extra wobbly bits and wide hips, but somehow I still felt comfortable in this dress and I didn’t feel like it was skin tight. Something about US and the way they create their clothing makes it feel comfortable whatever your body type. This mocha color is really great and unique, too. I am pretty sure I had a pair of corduroy pants in sixth grade in this color and they were my favorite.

While I have a huge rear at the moment and probably won’t feel comfortable wearing this dress until I get that back down to normal proportions, I think this dress could work great with a cardigan over it! This cardigan is definitely not ideal, but it was the only one I had whose length seemed to work well with the dress. What would you pair this with? I love hearing all of your great suggestions!

 

T Shirt Dress with Slits in Olive Green, Size XS 

This dress is the one item that I just don’t know if I can get down with. I love the color, the fabric is super soft and comfortable, not clingy, but flowy, and actually kind of thick and heavy, but it’s just kind of blah and unflattering to me. It does have a lot of give at the waist, so I feel like this would actually be a great maternity dress. It has these slits on the side which add a bit of style to it, but I think what I really don’t like about it is that line right down the center. It seems odd. I think this will become my house dress or “mumu” for those days when I just want something comfortable to lounge around in, unless you all can give me some styling tips! This one wasn’t on the US website anywhere so I wasn’t able to get any great ideas on how it could look. This is kind of like a heavier, thicker version of their foundation dress with wider ribbing since it is made from 88% Modal and 12% Elastane.

*I did reach out to customer service via chat and they said this is a new item, but they do not have a retail value on it yet.

 

Helen Liquid Jersey Shift Dress in Black Cherry, Size XS – Retail Value $88.00

This last dress is my favorite, but….that’s because I already own it! In this exact beautiful black cherry color! When I saw this dress online I had to have it because I loved the color and it had pockets and I knew it would be comfortable based one previous dresses I had purchased. I love the way the back is longer than the front and it has that great gathered area at the upper back which makes it flow nicely in the back instead of being clingy. The neckline is nice and high which is perfect for dressing up with jewelry and of course, the mix of comfort and style is what I love most about this dress. So while it is a bummer to have received something I already own, if I hadn’t already purchased it, I would have been super excited to receive it.

I did reach out to them because in previous years it was my understanding that they wouldn’t send you items you already owned (actually purchased, not received in a mystery box) and they were super understanding and while I wasn’t able to exchange it (the black one is calling my name!), they did offer me credit for a future purchase. While I appreciate the gesture, I probably won’t be making any purchases before it expires since I am probably maxed out on dresses for the moment.

Was My Universal Standard Mystery Box Worth It?

I really love the clothing from Universal Standard because it has proven to be quality clothing that is comfortable, and it really does just make you feel good with the way it fits. As for the items that I received this round, 2 of the dresses were hits (even if I already owned one), and the other (the green one) I just don’t know about still. So I’d say that 2 out of 3 isn’t bad for a mystery box. They did deliver on styles I can wear in warmer weather, and the Foundation dress takes me just a bit outside my comfort zone which I like. As for the value, this box had a promised value up to $358, and the two dresses that I could locate retail values for came to a total of $160. So even if we valued the third dress at around $80, that brings us to around $240, which is definitely on the lower end value-wise, but still well over the $98 cost, so I still think it’s fair, but not anything to blow me away.

What did blow me away though were all of the extras I received like the mask, laundry kit, cami, plus the discounts and mystery offer. Their customer service is excellent and they communicated the whole way about the mystery box which I appreciated, and it definitely makes you feel valued as a customer.

Value Breakdown

My Universal Standard Mystery Box cost $98.00 and with three items in the box (not counting any extras) that gives each item an average cost of about $32.67 which is definitely worth it for quality clothing and a great customer service experience.

Would you like to see more Universal Standard reviews? Have you ever tried their 1:1 styling service

Universal Standard is a body-inclusive clothing line with sizes ranging from 00-40. Only the highest quality of fabrics are used to give you pieces that will truly last.
Brandi Dowell
Brandi Dowell
Brandi has loved the idea of subscription boxes since joining Birchbox in 2013. Now that she’s a mother of 3, she loves finding unique boxes to educate and entertain her kids while enjoying some more pampering boxes for herself. Her favorites these days are Lillypost, KiwiCo boxes & Wicked Good Perfume!

Brandi Dowell
Brandi Dowell
Brandi has loved the idea of subscription boxes since joining Birchbox in 2013. Now that she’s a mother of 3, she loves finding unique boxes to educate and entertain her kids while enjoying some more pampering boxes for herself. Her favorites these days are Lillypost, KiwiCo boxes & Wicked Good Perfume!
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42 comments

CB

I ordered the surprise, lounge and athleisure boxes. I received a notification that it was delivered on 3/19 but no box was received. I contacted customer service and they said to keep checking for it for another 3 days. No box arrived and they ended up refunding me.

So sad as I really loved the boxes last year

Mallory

Just wanted to say that you look beautiful in all the pieces despite you thinking you need to lose weight! That cardidigan you paired with the first dress looks great together and although it’s only the beginning spring, this looks like the perfect autumn outfit!

Brandi Dowell

Thanks for your kind words, Mallory! 🙂 It will definitely be a great piece in the fall with the some boots!

Cindy

Agree – Brandi looks great in all the dresses. We’re so hard on ourselves! I love that mocha dress, but understand the discomfort, though. What about pairing it with a long black drapey flyaway cardigan? The green dress would look cool with a cropped black jacket & black booties like another commenter said. You could also make it more casual by pairing it with a denim jacket & chucks. Either way, love all the dresses & the colors!

Brandi Dowell

Thanks for all of these great ideas, Cindy! I’m definitely thinking a jacket of some sort is going to help with the green dress! It’s so great to have this community to give friendly fashion advice! ☺️

Cindy

I got the $75 surprise box, requesting color, crewnecks, cool weather, casual. I got 3 all black tops: V neck ponte short sleeve top that looked just like the scrubs I wear every day. The logo sweatshirt which should have been a promo item; and finally the funnel neck hoodie that I actually like. Super disappointing box and almost polar opposite of my survey answers.

Dootsie Bug

Last time I got their Mystery Box, I ordered based on my usual clothing size. EVERYTHING was too small, except the jeans that were actually labeled a size smaller than I normally wear!

This time, I ordered the tops box in a size up. I felt like they completely disregarded the survey. The tops fit better, but all three of the styles were a miss for me.

Abigail Smith

After much buzz about Universal Standard here and on an influencer blog I took the plunge and purchased three Mystery boxes (Luxe, Premier, Dresses). Yes, it was pricey, but I was buying into the belief that with vaccines I was finally going to be returning to the office and the opportunity to wear adult clothing again.

I placed an order on February 10th and received multiple emails telling me that I needed to complete a survey. I filled out the survey at least five times (when logging back into the site to check the status of my order). After receiving no updates about my shipment, I finally sent an email when I saw others indicating they received their boxes. I got a snarky email that my shipment could take up to 4 weeks (I received no pre-emptive communication indicating mystery boxes had such a long delay).

At the 5 week mark, I received an unsolicited brown envelope, a “token” of appreciation—a mask and a small bottle of laundry detergent with a mesh bag. Still no update on my shipment. A few days later I received an email with a tracking number.

Online, others commented they received an email with information about their shipment, indicating there would be 4 items instead of three thanking for your patience plus a 15% discount code for your patience. I received no such email.

My package arrived on March 19th (after it was scheduled to arrive). It was one dented box and contained three unlabeled bundles separated by tissue. None of the bundles were identified. There was a total of 10 items (not 12—as would be the case if there was the inclusion of a 4th item). Two, not three scratch cards—both offering 10% off.

The experience overall felt like I ordered from a random vendor online at Amazon and waited for an item to be shipped from East Asia. None of the contents matched my survey selections (my preference for vnecks and instead received crew necks and turtlenecks). The sizing so off that many of my items are easily a woman’s size 14 (I requested XS, 2XS). I’m uncertain as to why I filled out survey five times to get random items that didn’t align with my survey choices? Why did they bother with a survey if they were just going to send you fully random assortment of things in none neutral colors (after I selected neutrals)? Why didn’t they just make it fully random if you have no intention of minimally attempting to honor the survey selections?

First and last time I will be ordering from US. Overall it was terrible customer experience and a very expensive mistake.

Heather

I felt the same way about the “4th item.” Not to be greedy but the terminology “4th item” suggests that there would be one extra item for each original set of 3. I’m not going to contact them and complain or anything but I also ordered 3 boxes and was given one extra item total, so maybe they should have said a “10th” item. I got 3 boxes last year and each box came with an extra item after a significant delay. All my stuff was together this time but I think my “extra” item was the dreaded logo shirt. I only got one scratch card as well.

Katie

My “warm weather, casual” got my heavy Moro pants, long sleeved shiny shirt n a denim jacket. Not exactly what I had in mind for WFH Texas weather.
Disappointed totally. Was able to cancel my surprise box.

Laura

All the items looked nice on you! The cherry dress is my favorite. I think the green dress would be cool with a fitted leather or denim jacket and some ankle booties.

Brandi Dowell

Yes! That sounds perfect for the green dress! I’m excited to try out these ideas! Thanks, Laura! 🙂

Brent

would love to try this

Sophia Roccucci

I normally LOVE not only US but the mystery boxes. I was completely saddened and disappointed this time. They didn’t look at my survey or my previous purchases. I said no dresses or skirts, they sent me a dress. I just bought the melot long sleeve T Rex within the last year and I got that. I also purchased a stovepipe top in teal within the last year and they sent me a navy one. I got the surprise mystery box hoping to get something exciting. Now I am stuck as they are final sales. I am not wealthy and this was a chunk for me especially for what I got.

Ordered on the 13th of Feb, got it on the 5th of March.

When I pointed it out to them…I got a coupon to get something else, but of course, they are expensive so I had to spend MORE money.

I do love their clothes, but this just soured me completely.

Elle

Sophia –

Same situation happened to me. I purchased a tops box, lounge box, and classic box. Yes, I ordered neutrals but did not expect 5 black tops in similar styles. The value was no where close to the max indicated for any of the boxes. The scratch off was for a free mask WITH a $50 purchase.

Gaby

I think you look great in all the choices they sent over. Just wanted to add that for the mask, you can wash it separately with some salt. The salt will prevent any color bleeding. And if you decide to wash it with other colors, you can always add salt to your laundry if you’re worried about the color bleeding again.

Brandi Dowell

What a great tip! Thanks, Gaby! I never knew that! 🙂

Rachelle

I got the petite box (I’m not quite 5′). I got a message from them that my survey answers didn’t go through – after I got a message that my box had shipped. Of course everything in the box was the opposite of what I requested. But based on comments above I guess that happens. I got a v-neck Tee, a cap sleeve Geneva dress, and Roya-23 pants that are supposed to be capri but comes to my ankles. The material was lovely but for me everything looked awful on. Swapped the t-shirt here. Looks like I’ll have to try to sell the other two pieces. Wanted to try US but now I know they are absolutely not for me.

Lo

It’s all so cute on you!! It’s funny that you say that the olive dress would be good for maternity wear, I can totally vouch for Universal Standard dresses on pregnant ladies — I’m third trimester now and wearing the same flowy dresses I got in a mystery box a couple years back!

I agree with the other comment that maybe a more open neckline might be more flattering on the olive dress. For the mystery box price point, maybe it might be worth altering yourself to open up the neckline or shortening it up a bit? You could probably just leave a raw hem and just iron on some bias tape for a new-sew option. Either way, it’s cute!

H

My athleisure box was a bust. Missing item, leggings in a different size. Expensive for 1 item.

Brandi Dowell

You should definitely reach out to customer service! I’m sure they will make it right based on my experience!

Trish

I received the same dresses as you, just in different colors. I got the foundation dress in navy. It is so comfortable! I agree that it is a little clingy, so I will definitely pair it with a cardigan or jacket. I received the t-shirt dress in black. I did not expect to like it, but when I put it on something magical happened and it is really flattering! The Helen liquid jersey dress is THE BEST. It is comfortable and can be dressed up or down. Overall, I was really pleased with my dress box.

Brandi Dowell

Haha I love your description “something magical happened”! So glad you love your dresses! 🙂

Rebecca

I got the lounge box and the mystery box. I got the US-branded shirt, which I will not wear. I got a striped top that was cute, a pair of joggers and a matching off the shoulder top that I like, a “jumpsuit,” which was unfortunate because I am bigger on top than on bottom and it looked like I was wearing a sleeveless adult onesie, and a sweatshirt dress that I loved, but was just way too big when I tried it on. I sold the dress and the jumpsuit on Poshmark.

Cynthia

Love that last dress! I don’t like long dresses so their dress mystery boxes are definitely not for me, but it’s fun to see what everyone gets.

Got a black cherry long-sleeve t-rex in my tops or surprise box (all were tops so I don’t know what belongs in each box) and it’s a gorgeous color!

Alice

If the green dress had a v neck, it would have worked perfectly with the seam and flow.

Brandi Dowell

You’re so right! A v-neck would have worked so much better with the other details!

Alice

Brandi, perhaps you could get it changed to a v? Seamstress probably wouldn’t charge much, or if you’re so inclined, you could do it!

Lily

I got the surprise box, and ended up with a branded long sleeve tee shirt (ugh, has US on the front and something like “all of us. As we are” in cheap awkwardly placed printing across the back, it’s absolutely not something I could wear in public) a cap sleeve high neck tee shirt, and a really awkwardly cut ugly sweatshirt dress with zippers up the side that made me break out in a rash, so they definitely contain nickel or another sketchy base metal.
I also got a tops box— two identical long sleeve t shirts (one white and one blue) and a weird sort of dress shirt with a half placket and uncomfortable stretch fabric.

I got dresses boxes last year and the year before and was happy with them. This year was miserable! I got xl in tops and L in surprise… I’ve seen amazing surprise boxes in size M and smaller, I’d be interested to know if anyone at the larger end of the size range got a fabulous surprise box.

Jennifer

I got a tops box in XS and was disappointed. I at least got three useable shirts, so not the worst, but it was just two short sleeved t-shirts and a casual top (I’d asked for long sleeve, colder weather, polished.) The fabric was also very thin/sheer so only one of the tops do I feel comfortable wearing without some further layering. I do feel I got roughly what I paid for, but not really a deal nor a temptation to shop there or get future boxes.

Jody

Brandi I wonder if you could belt the olive green dress?

Brandi Dowell

That’s a good idea, Jody! I think I definitely need to play around with it a bit! It also might look cute with a jacket over it! Thanks! 🙂

carol

I’ve bought their dresses when they’ve been on sale; they’ve done 3 for $75, and, 4 for $100. You might want to keep an eye out for those sales, if you’re ever in the market for their dresses again!

Brandi Dowell

Great point! They do have some good sales! 🙂

Mary

I ordered the dress box and was super disappointed. I asked for v necks but got three crew necks, which I almost never wear. All of the dresses were black – I jokingly called this my funeral dress box. Not sure I’ll take the risk again.

Brandi Dowell

Oh man! That stinks! Maybe you’ll grow to like them? That’s happened with their pieces in the past – I haven’t been fond and then after wearing them awhile they tend to grow on me!

Mellissa

I purchased the tops box (3 tops for $50) and love 2 of the 3 pieces. The piece I dislike ran very large and I sold it for $30.
The other two tops were a v neck black t shirt and a scoop neck black t shirt. Score!

Brandi Dowell

Nice! Sounds like you made out well, especially getting to sell the shirt you didn’t like! 🙂

Nancy Su

I got the $75 Surprise box for myself and 2 out of 3 were winners! Not bad at all for a mystery box. But I gotta say I love the olive dress on you! The line down the center is an odd choice, but other than that it’s quite flattering. A great lounging-at-home piece.

Brandi Dowell

Glad you got 2 good pieces out of yours – I feel like that’s totally fair on these! Thanks for the kind words on the olive dress! I think it will definitely grow on me! 🙂

Ks

You look great!

I love Universal Standard clothes but with pandemic, I just live in athleisure.

Brandi Dowell

Thanks, Ks! I feel like their dresses are like cute athleisure wear because they’re so comfy to lounge in! I’m all about no waistband these days! Lol

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Our reviewers research, test, and recommend the best subscriptions and products independently; click to learn more about our editorial guidelines. We may receive commissions on purchases made through links on our site.