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    Lifestyle

    The Most Comfortable Jeans: A Universal Standard Review

    woman sitting on a bench wearing a gray t-shirt and dark blue jeans looking away

    This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission. With that said, all opinions are my own and I will only recommend products I love and believe in.

    Comfort is probably the most important quality that clothing can have. So when I sized out of my jeans earlier this year, I knew I had to look for replacements. This time, though, I decided not to settle for average, fast fashion jeans. I wanted to actually feel good in my jeans without needing to take them off first thing when I get home. I needed jeans that won’t dig in, jeans that actually stay on my waist without me having to adjust them all day. That’s when I discovered Universal Standard, my new favorite brand.

    Obviously, I’m not a fashion blogger (you can’t be one if you only wear t-shirts and jeans, right?). But because I’ve fallen so deeply in love with this brand, I decided to dedicate a blog post to them and their jeans, which are the most comfortable pair I’ve ever owned. So with no further ado, let’s talk about Universal Standard and why they’ve got me hooked.

    About Universal Standard

    Universal Standard is a brand that’s filling in the gap for plus-size women’s essentials with a classic, minimalist aesthetic. Think capsule wardrobes, but for women sizes 10-28. Think Everlane basics, but designed with bigger women in mind. Less emphasis on seasonal, “trendy” pieces and more on versatile clothing meant to last.

    Their stated mission is to “break the plus-size fashion industry” by offering slow fashion alternatives for women sizes 10-28. They run on a direct-to-consumer business model to ensure fair pricing. They develop their own fabrics to ensure comfort and good fit for bigger women, and they consider technical factors like pilling and bounce-back for longevity. Most importantly, they acknowledge the social pressure pushing plus-size women to view their sizes as temporary, and they try to alleviate this pressure through their Universal Fit Liberty program.

    In terms of their policies on ethics and sustainability, there isn’t as much detail as I would like. Their FAQs state that their co-founders have personally vetted each factory to meet ethical manufacturing standards, and they’ve stated that they track the carbon dioxide emissions from their shipments. It looks like these issues are on their radar, so I’m hoping for more transparency on ethics and sustainability practices from them in the future. (I’d also like to acknowledge that there is a shortage of ethical, sustainable, and slow fashion brands that are also size-inclusive. So I appreciate Universal Standard for hitting the slow fashion mark.)

    close-up of a white box with black text that says "universal standard"

    Universal Fit Liberty is changing the game in the fashion industry.

    Universal Standard has a program called Universal Fit Liberty for items in their core collection. If you buy something that’s UFL-eligible and it no longer fits within one year after purchase, you can exchange it for your new size for free. And Universal Standard will take your old clothing and donate it to charities supporting women.

    I love UFL because it’s the first time any clothing brand, plus size or not, has ever addressed size fluctuations. When I shop, I get anxious trying to compensate for what my size might be next year—because it’s always changing. With UFL, I don’t have to worry because I know I’m covered for the next year.

    Other little things I love about Universal Standard:

    They show you what their clothes will look like in your size. For each clothing item, you can click on “See It In Your Size” under the main photo to see how it looks on models of different sizes. This is so basic, so bare-minimum… yet most brands don’t do this. So I appreciate it that much more when Universal Standard does.

    Free shipping and free returns in the U.S. Universal Standard cuts retail costs by being direct-to-consumer, which means they don’t have their own physical store. And figuring out what’s going to fit you online can be tricky. Hence, free shipping and free returns. It makes the online shopping so much easier and lower-stakes.

    About the Jeans

    I bought the 32-inch inseam Seine Jeans in dark indigo. These jeans come with two inseam options (27-inch and 32-inch) and three color options: distressed blue, distressed black, and dark indigo. They cost $90 a pair and are a part of the brand’s core collection, making them eligible for Universal Fit Liberty. Yes, this means that if my size changes within the next year, I can get my jeans exchanged in a different size for free. Win.

    The packaging

    As someone who loves to online-shop, getting my order in the mail feels a bit like Christmas. I know it’s not a big deal, but I appreciate packaging that wows. And Universal Standard gets an A+ on that front.

    My jeans came in a beautiful white box with a magnetic closure (and yes, I’m keeping it). Inside, the jeans were wrapped in black tissue paper with a #nowyoucan sticker (their branding hashtag). As a bonus, I also got a black tote with the Universal Standard brand. It felt like a present to myself.

    For more minimal packaging, you have the option of checking “skip the box” when you place your order.

    close-up shot of black tote bag with the words "universal standard" in white

    The fit

    I titled this blog post “The Most Comfortable Jeans” because they are. The high-waisted design makes them sit comfortably on my body without me ever having to pull them up. And when I sit down, they don’t dig into my belly like every other pair of high-waisted jeans has done. They contain the perfect amount of stretch to move with my curves rather than constrict them. Yet unlike many stretchy clothes, they don’t feel cheap.

    I love the relaxed skinny fit of these jeans. They taper down towards my ankles but leave enough room for a casual, comfy look. And while I’m almost always going for casual, the dark indigo color can easily be dressed up with the right shirt and accessories. Bonus points for versatility.

    The 32-inch inseam is a bit long for my height, but I prefer to cuff my jeans anyway, so it actually works out great. It just so happened that their 27-inch inseam was out of stock and I desperately needed new jeans.

    One last thing awesome thing about these jeans: They come with real pockets, meaning I can fit my entire iPhone in these pockets, vertically, and still have extra room.

    According to the website, the jeans do run large, so keep that in mind if you’re interested in getting them! (Then again, I guess you don’t have much to lose with free shipping and free returns.)

    The price point

    As someone who’s only shopped fast fashion until recently, the $90 price tag was high for what I’m used to. But compared to other slow fashion brands, it feels reasonable. Given that these jeans were designed to fit bodies like mine, and they’re covered by Universal Fit Liberty, I’d say I got more than my money’s worth.

    Final Thoughts

    There’s a difference between jeans designed for bigger bodies and jeans designed for thin bodies that were simply scaled up in size. I’ve never felt that difference so clearly as when I first put on these Universal Standard jeans.

    Gone are the days of squeezing my butt into jeans that clearly weren’t designed for my body shape and size. I’ve found something way better.

    The Most Comfortable Jeans: A Universal Standard Review

    Wellness

    5 Things I’m Doing to Feel Comfortable In My Body

    5 Things I’m Doing to Feel Comfortable In My Body

    (Content warning for discussions of body image, diet mentality, disordered eating, and overexercise)

    Since discovering the Health At Every Size community, I’ve made a lot of changes to my lifestyle. I’ve slowly backed away from my old mentality on food and exercise for something much more peaceful, much less controlling. And while I’m still very much in the beginning of this journey, I’ve noticed some subtle changes. I’m more forgiving with myself after eating at buffets; I don’t feel the need to compensate for a mac and cheese with salad the next day; and I don’t suck my stomach in as often as I used to.

    While I’m not an expert in health or body image, I’m learning—and I want to document that process. More importantly, I want to join the many others offering a counter-narrative to the diet industry that’s controlled us for too long. So acknowledging that I’m new to this school of thought, here are some tangible steps I’m taking to feel more comfortable in my own skin.

    1. I stopped “working out” and reevaluated my relationship with physical movement.

    I’ve mentioned before that I replaced my desire to be thin with a desire to be strong. This was true for a significant chapter of my relationship with yoga. Yes, there are elements of yoga I genuinely enjoy. Stretches feel wonderful, and I have a community-oriented, women of color-run yoga studio that feels like family. But yoga was introduced to me at age twelve as a means of getting the “perfect body,” and that influence hasn’t ever really gone away.

    Over time, diet culture evolved from the “thin ideal” to the era of fitspo. And that’s a problem, too.

    People were talking less about how much weight they wanted to lose and more about how much stronger they wanted to become. I followed Instagram accounts of yoga teachers showing off their handstands and standing splits, wanting my body to get there, too. I thought the more I could do with my body—arm balances, inversions, chaturangas—the more I would love myself. Later I realized that not only is this wrapped up in toxic diet mentality, it’s ableist, too. How is measuring my body’s worth in terms of strength and ability any better than measuring it in terms of weight or looks? And what does that say about how we view people with disabilities?

    I haven’t rolled out my yoga mat or stepped inside a yoga studio in months. I miss my studio—it’s the first place where yoga didn’t feel like a workout or a product but a place of community and healing. But I don’t trust myself to resume the practice without returning to my unhealthy mindset, so I’m sitting it out for now.

    Instead, I look for joy in movement in less structured ways.

    I’m a writer, after all; I have no intention of becoming a fitness expert or hobbyist. Once I let go of exercise as a moral imperative, it became clear to me. What was I doing lifting weights every day at the gym? Or going to grueling yoga sessions for three hours a day? How much of that did I really enjoy?

    It’s sad how much diet culture has taken away from us. Many forms of physical movement are enjoyable, and often something your body naturally craves. Yet we can’t seem to do these things anymore without thoughts of “losing weight,” “getting fit,” or “staying healthy” intruding our minds. These days, I’m unlearning the negative, controlling messages I grew up with around physical movement. And I’m figuring out what I actually like, what types of movement I go to naturally without even thinking about the supposed health benefits.

    I dance to the latest Fifth Harmony album in my room when I’m putting on makeup. I take my dog on morning walks because it makes her happy. And I go swimming in my neighbor’s pool to get away from the LA heat—no timing, no counting laps. These are things I love to do that I don’t feel the need to schedule or force into a routine. Maybe one day I’ll be able to unroll my yoga mat again, but right now, this is what feels good and healthy for me.

    2. I unfollowed the fitspo accounts on Instagram and replaced them with fat positive, body liberation-focused accounts.

    The only yoga teacher I follow on Instagram is Jessamyn Stanley, who is outspoken about the corporatization of yoga and its lack of racial and size diversity. I unfollowed all the others. It didn’t benefit me to read their motivational, then-now posts about accomplishing certain poses. I didn’t need them to tell me that with enough practice, I too can master the handstand. I wanted out of the mindset that my body needed to be something other than what it is right now.

    Now, my Instagram feed is full of badass activists and groups focused on body liberation. And because I want to encourage people to revisit their body politics, here are some suggestions:

    I never considered how much social media can affect your mental wellbeing when I was bombarding myself with fitspo. But it’s clear it had an impact. Now, with only body liberation messages on my feed, I’m more at peace with my body, in looks and ability. It’s done wonders for my mental health and my self-image, and I recommend you give it a shot.

    3. I only wear clothes I’m 100% comfortable in.

    This means a lot of loose-fitting clothes, oversized tees, stretchy bottoms, and braless days. When I go out, I wear swing dresses or relaxed-fit tops with the only comfortable denim shorts I own. Most recently, I bought the most comfortable pair of jeans (to be reviewed)—designed with bigger women in mind—and can’t wait to live in them this fall.

    When I shop, I pay more attention to fabrics than I did before. This is partly because of sustainability concerns, and partly because it’s important that clothes feel good against my skin. Considering the costs of high-quality clothing, I realize the ability to be choosy about my clothing is a privilege.

    It’s true that body fluctuations affect my body confidence, which in turn affects the clothes I feel comfortable in. Last year, I was thinner, had slightly more body confidence, and preferred more slim-fitting clothes. I went out in bodycon dresses and wore shorter, tighter tops. Still, this body confidence came at a price, and I have no desire to force myself into dreaded workouts anymore. So while the loose-fitting clothes are a symptom of existing body image issues, they’re an important step to feeling more comfortable in my own skin.

    4. I eat whatever I want.

    I don’t have any food allergies or medical conditions that require me to restrict my food, so why was I doing it? Earlier in the year, I would have told you I’ve been eating whatever I want for my whole life. Then I realized how much our current language on food is actually thinly veiled diet culture.

    In health circles, there’s a lot of talk about letting yourself eat whatever you want—but always with conditions.

    There’s the 80/20 rule (80% “healthy,” 20% “indulgences”), which is still a diet. Allowing yourself to eat the “bad foods” 20 percent of the time means you’re still moralizing your food and imposing rules on them. There’s also the “eat whatever you want, just make sure you exercise enough to work it off” mentality. That’s what I once believed until I realized there’s something deeply messed up about thinking I had to “earn” or “burn off” my food. So yes, while I was going for the Ben and Jerry’s and the side of fries, I was also punishing myself for it. Which means that no, I was not actually letting myself eat whatever I wanted.

    These days, I approach food with an emphasis on my sustenance and enjoyment above everything else.

    When I eat my favorite Thai salad, I savor the combination of lime, fish sauce, and chili peppers mixed with the herby flavor of Chinese celery and the texture of the glass noodles. I silence the inner voice wanting to congratulate myself for “being good” by eating a salad. After all, this is food I enjoy. Shouldn’t that be enough?

    When I eat mangos and bananas, I don’t think about their starch or sugar content. Instead, I think about how pop science has made us afraid of so many foods, only to reverse those beliefs over time. Think egg yolks and the fearmongering around their cholesterol content—despite the fact that most nutrients from eggs come from the yolk in the first place. Think last year’s news about how scientists were funded by the sugar industry to make us afraid of fat.

    Eliminating “health” concerns from food hasn’t changed my preferences. I’ve always liked what I liked. It’s just made me more laid-back and unashamed about what I eat, which is exactly what I needed.

    5. I listen to podcasts that promote body liberation, Health At Every Size, and intuitive eating.

    The first time I ever heard of intuitive eating and Health At Every Size was on the Every Body Podcast in an episode featuring Evelyn Tribole, a dietitian who focuses on intuitive eating and eating disorder recovery. Since then, I’ve searched far and wide for similarly awesome podcasts, and there are some great options out there! Let me share my favorites:

    Of course, there are many more body liberation-focused podcasts beyond this list—I just haven’t gotten around to checking them out. Food Psych so far has been my favorite. I think it’s something to do with Christy’s voice and the way she conducts her interviews. Also, she features some amazing guests who I admire: Ijeoma Oluo, Sonya Renee Taylor from The Body Is Not An Apology, Gloria Lucas from Nalgona Positivity Pride, and more.

    The more I listen to these podcasts, the more I learn how deeply ingrained sizeism is in our culture. Why is something so basic and essential as medical care not inclusive of people in larger bodies? Why is the “body positive” movement, which branched out of fat activism, now excluding the very people who started it? And finally, why is weight loss prescribed—by doctors and by society—when research shows that it’s practically impossible in the long-term?

    Body liberation is a long, difficult journey. I want more conversation that counters the moralization of food and exercise we see in “health” communities today. I need to see more intuitive eating and HAES experts in the mainstream. And if you’re struggling in your relationship with your body, I hope this post offered you something new to consider for your journey as well.

    5 Things I'm Doing to Feel Comfortable In my Body

    Writing

    3 Essential Tools to Streamline Your Writing Process

    3 Essential Tools to Streamline Your Writing Process

    This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I may get a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase. Affiliate links will be denoted with an asterisk (*).

    Aside from not posting on this blog, last week was one of my most productive weeks in a long time. I sent in my application to one writing fellowship, interviewed for another, applied to jobs, and finally got started on figuring out what in the world affiliate marketing is. The more I write, the more committed I become to writing as a professional venture. And the more committed I become, the more projects I’m willing to take on. All of this necessitates good process, time management, and organization.

    A few weeks ago I shared some general advice for getting to know yourself as a writer and beginning to cultivate a writing habit. Today’s post is going to hone in on the actual process of writing itself. With that said, here are three apps/programs to help you streamline your writing process and accomplish your goals.

    1. Grammarly*

    As someone who hates proofreading (and often skips that step), Grammarly has been a lifesaver. It’s an automated proofreader that catches typos, grammar mistakes, wordiness/passive voice, and plagiarism, among other things. Once you import your document, the program marks it up with recommendations along with the grammatical explanations behind them.

    Some of my favorite things about Grammarly:

    • It’s like having a second pair of eyes look over your work
    • The user-friendly layout: your text is on the left and the edits are on the right column
    • The import/export function allows you to retain the original formatting of your work
    • Documents exported to Word record the edits as tracked changes
    • In Premium, you can customize what type of document you’re editing (creative, technical, academic, etc.) and the app will reconfigure what edits to focus on

    Who it’s best for: Students, writers, bloggers, and any professional whose job requires them to write. If you write a lot of essays, memos, emails—anything that needs fine-tuning—Grammarly can save you a lot of time and hassle.

    Who it’s not so great for: Creative or advanced writers who break conventional rules for stylistic purposes. If this is you, you’ll likely ignore many of Grammarly’s recommendations on sentence fragments and repetition. That said, it’s still helpful for tracking typos, missing punctuation, and other things you may not catch on your own.

    Price point: Grammarly has a free version with basic spelling and grammar checks. Its premium* version includes more in-depth editing related to style, vocabulary, and plagiarism checks. Grammarly Premium costs $29.95/month for monthly payments, with lower overall costs for quarterly or annual payments.

    In addition to the app, Grammarly has a free browser extension that’s great for catching mistakes on your web activities like personal email and Facebook comments.

    Check out Grammarly here*!

    2. Ulysses (Mac/iOS only)

    Ulysses is the app I use to write pretty much everything. You can find the full breakdown of its features here, but my favorite things about it are:

    • Clean, minimalist user interface (basically, it’s a beautiful app)
    • It runs on Markdown formatting which is easy and web-friendly
    • I can access all my content from the sidebar (no digging through folders), complete with multi-level folders
    • The app auto saves everything for me
    • It has convenient publishing options for WordPress and Medium
    • It also comes with sleek preset designs for exporting to PDF and Word

    Who it’s best for: Anyone who does a significant amount of writing that requires formatting and organization. Anyone who needs multi-level folders for their writing projects and could benefit from the easy-access sidebar. Also, anyone who prefers a minimalist alternative to traditional word processing software’s clunky interface.

    Who it’s not so great for: If you prefer traditional word processing software options or if you don’t have many writing projects to keep track of, Ulysses may not be for you.

    Price point: Ulysses recently switched to a subscription model at $4.99/month or $39.99/year. This subscription model allows users to synchronize work across Mac/iOS platforms and receive continued development and updates on the app. Personally, I bought Ulysses when it was a standalone app, so I only have it on my Mac. I may switch to the subscription later on for the updates, but I’m happy with the program as-is.

    You can try Ulysses for free with its 14-day trial here.

    (Note: Ulysses is currently only available for Mac/iOS devices. There is a copycat Ulysses for Windows app that is not affiliated with the original Ulysses app.)

    3. Habitica

    Habitica is my absolute favorite productivity app because it turns your to-do list into a role-playing game. Think experience points, health stats, leveling up. There’s even a social element to the game—tavern chats, guilds, and inviting your friends to join your party. Whoever envisioned this app is a genius.

    Here’s what I love about Habitica:

    • It gives you three categories of activities to track: habits, dailies, and to-dos
    • There’s something oddly rewarding about getting XP and coins for checking something off your to-do list
    • The Habitica community is a fun way of meeting others with similar goals and holding yourself accountable
    • It invokes Runescape-era gaming nostalgia

    It’s been a great tool in helping me stick to my writing habits and deadlines. I use the habits tracker for things like “Write in my journal” or “Listen to a podcast,” and I use the to-do tracker to make sure I send in job applications or pitches by the deadline.

    Who it’s best for: Anyone looking for a new (and fun!) way to motivate themselves, get things done, and cultivate better habits. Also, anyone who likes games and has a need for a to-do list.

    Who it’s not so great for: People who already have their way of making sure they get things done, or people who don’t enjoy games.

    Price point: It’s free, with options to upgrade to a paid group plan, enterprise plan, and the developers are working on a family plan, too. So basically, if you’re just using this on your own, it won’t cost you a penny.

    You can access Habitica as a website and as an app on your phone (iOS and Android). Check it out here!

    Together, these three apps make up the majority of my writing process.

    I wrote this post on Ulysses and proofread it using Grammarly, and Habitica allows me to reward myself (with XP and coins, because why not?) afterward.

    I hope someone somewhere found this helpful! And if anyone has any essential tools they want to share from their writing process, I’m all ears!

    3 Essential Tools to Streamline Your Writing Process