I hate jeans. Denim and I are not exactly close acquaintances. I often have to sacrifice tight pant legs for a comfortable waistline fit. (Don’t even get me started on the quality of the material between your thighs—I’ve chub-rubbed my way through multiple pairs of pants.) Jeggings? Sure. But regular jeans with buttons and zippers? No thank you.
So when I was asked to test Universal Standard’s popular Seine jeans, I was skeptical—but I’d heard good things so I obliged. It led to this: the story of how I went from never wearing jeans to living in—and hiking in—the comfiest jeans I’ve owned in a long time.
What is Universal Standard?
Polina Veksler and Alex Waldman founded Universal Standard in 2015 after realizing there wasn't a lot of clothing options for plus-size bodies. They wanted to create a place where women of all sizes could shop and introduce a system where sizing was more “universal”—hence the brand’s name. The pair was also interested in developing a program that allowed people to replace their clothes if they changed sizes.
Universal Standard offers women’s sizes 00 to 40, but it categorizes them a bit differently. Some clothing is labeled 4XS to 4X—with 4XS being the equivalent of a size 00 and 4X being the equivalent of a size 38 or 40. The sizing is similar to a bell curve, so that a medium is about the same as a size 18 to 20. To put it simply, customers can expect to order a smaller size than if they were to walk into another retailer.
I love this system because it truly encapsulates the American woman’s body. The average American woman is a size 16-18, so it only makes sense that the mid-range of sizes should fit that statistic and go outward from there. The fact that Universal Standard acknowledges this and caters toward plus-size women made me fall in love from the get-go.
Many of Universal Standard’s clothes are a part of its Fit Liberty program—a system that allows you to exchange any article of clothing with the Fit Liberty badge for another size, up to a year after you bought it. This is revolutionary as bodies are constantly changing and people’s weight can fluctuate a lot over the course of a year.
What I like about Universal Standard jeans
First of all, the waistline is comfortably stretchy. It’s not loose, because it fits my waist and doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall down—but there’s a lot of wiggle room that lets me take deep breaths or nurse a Chipotle burrito. I ate a lot of big meals in these jeans and never felt the need to unbutton my pants.
Beyond that, the pockets are huge. I wore my jeans on a two-mile hike on a recent trip to Seattle and carried a SmartWater bottle in my pocket. That’s right: I was able to fit an entire liter of water in the front pocket.
My thighs rub together when I walk (as do many plus-size people's), so you’d expect the crotch area to wear down as it often does on cheaper jeans. But not on these. The denim is still holding strong after about a month of constant use and miles of walking.
I will also give the jeans credit because, although the description says to “hang dry,” I’ve run these through the dryer several times—oops—with no issues. I have to commend the strength and durability of their cotton/polyester/elastane blend.
What I don’t like about Universal Standard jeans
Honestly, there’s little to complain about. One issue was the sizing—or rather, the sizing chart. When I first ordered the jeans, Universal Standard suggested that I should purchase an 18, which is bigger than my usual 12 to 16. Sure enough, when they arrived, they were huge. I exchanged them for a size 14 and those fit like a dream. Weirdly enough, I recently retook the same quiz, and it recommended that exact size. However, even in a 14, the jeans were too short. I’m 5-foot-9 and these were more like capris. Fortunately, Universal Standard offers a “tall” version, which has an inseam that’s 5 inches longer and would likely have been a better length for my frame.
I liked the roomy pockets, but some people might think they’re too big. With a hand in each front pocket, I was able to have my thumbs touch each other in the front, which was a strange experience I’ve never had happen in a pair of pants before. It would be easy to lose a key or chapstick inside—maybe not so convenient.
One final negative: At $98 a pop, Universal Standard jeans are not cheap. For someone who thrives on discounts and inexpensive clothing, that price pains me. Yes, you’re getting “quality pants” but that’s still a lot of money.
Should you buy Universal Standard jeans?
I hate spending a lot of money, but because these are the most comfortable pair of jeans I’ve worn—even comfier than my jeggings—I would probably dish out the $100 to buy them. I’d at least buy one pair and pray they last a while.
Not only do they feel and look good, they’re also versatile and go with almost everything in my closet. Plus, you’d be supporting and representing a company with wonderful size-inclusivity and respectable values. The fact that I, the Couponing Queen, will spend $100 of my hard-earned money on these jeans means that they are, in my honest opinion, worth it.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.