This shirt has great reviews, but there's a catch.
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There is a shirt on Amazon. Well, technically, there are many, many shirts on Amazon. But the one I am talking about is a specific shirt on Amazon. It’s possible you have seen it yourself, this $19.99 trend salad from a brand called “Asvivid,” with a tie-front waist, wide, zebra-esque stripes, and off-the shoulder sleeves.
I chanced upon it when I was browsing Amazon, looking for nothing and everything in particular—as I am wont to do in my line of work—and immediately bookmarked it. This was for a few reasons. The first thing was its reviews: 2,430 of them, which appeared to be positive, as the shirt had an overall rating of four-and-a-half stars. This struck me as odd, not because it was a unique shirt, but because it very much was not. It looked like many shirts I’d been seeing since the summer of 2016, an amalgam of Forever 21 and Madewell and Nordstrom Rack and Target and The Cheesecake Factory. The shirt didn’t look bad to me in photos, just a particular shade of ordinary that entered it into an uncanny trend valley, making me question all shirts of its ilk I’d seen before or since. I began to think of it as 'The Shirt.'
My intrigue increased when I took a closer look at the shirt’s reviews. Under a lens, they just didn’t check out. I ran the shirt's listing through FakeSpot, a service that uses an algorithm to evaluate reviews, their sources, and their content to determine if they have suspicious similarities with other reviews or are from unreliable sources, like bots. It then gives them a grade from “A” to “F” to determine how safe they are to trust. The shirt—which, according to the reviews I saw, should have been a fantastic investment—got an F. Now, FakeSpot is not an exact science—it can’t, for example, tell you which specific reviews of a product are fake and which ones are real, and sometimes it marks products down if their reviews are too good—but it is helpful to decide which products and reviews are best evaluated with hackles up, and which can be trusted with fewer qualms. The shirt’s “F” grade meant I had to order it to evaluate it myself.
The shirt comes in a few color and style variations available, from an American flag print to a V-neck to a boat neck. I went with the one that showed up in the first thumbnail I had seen, with pinkish nude (otherwise known as “millennial pink”) vertical zebra-like stripes and cinched elastic off-the-shoulder sleeves.
It arrived two days later. (I got it, after all, from Amazon Prime.) And, when I pulled it out of its package, it looked almost just like it had online, with cheap-looking fabric, wide pink stripes (slightly more pink than they had looked on my computer screen) and two sad-looking flaps on the front that I hoped would look jaunty once tied. I put it on to find out.
As an actual garment to wear, the shirt was not so great. It’s made of 95 percent polyester and five percent Spandex, which means it wrinkles pretty much as soon as you put it on and feels like a cross between a cheap bedskirt and a Halloween costume you can get at the drugstore. (The whole time I was testing it out, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was somehow wearing my Wonder Woman costume from kindergarten.) This also meant it didn’t breathe at all, which was bad news for me when I took my 20-minute walk to the office in the warm summer sun. Five minutes into my stroll, I felt beads of sweat rolling down my back and, 10 minutes in, an unshakeable, deodorant-proof odor seeping from my armpits through the shirt.
On a positive note, the snug elastic around the top did a great job of keeping the shirt where it was supposed to be (just off the shoulder). And, in terms of fulfilling its duties as trend potpourri—shall I remind you that it is off-the-shoulder and ties at the waist and is millennial pink?—The shirt performed with aplomb. It was easy to construct casual yet work-appropriate outfits around—all I had to do was pair it with some ripped jeans or denim skirt and a pair of sandals or white sneakers, and I had an ensemble. One day, my coworker Courtney, who had no idea I was trying out the shirt for a review, told me I looked "really cute." I couldn’t diverge too far from the sneaker-sandal-denim vibe, though. One time, I tried to wear it with my old, beat-up Birkenstocks and the look—which seemed to me like a combination of a SoulCycle devotee and Grateful Dead enthusiast—gave me so much cognitive dissonance, it was all I could do not to buy a Groupon for a sensory deprivation tank and beeline to it.
The Shirt speaks for itself—loudly. In fact, it might as well be a graphic tee or leopard midi skirt, considering that wearing it feels akin to going to a barre class (followed by a bottomless brunch) in a tee that says something like “WHINE NOW, WINE LATER” or “ROSÉ AND SHINE.” It’s not that any of this is not true about me—I attend barre classes, and have consumed a glass or two of rosé in my day—but wearing the shirt seemed a way to telegraph a specific kind of femininity in which barre classes and rosé are its foundational, non-negotiable tenets, and leaves little room for anything else.
But enough about my feminist doubts. Should you, too, get the shirt?
On the plus side, at a max price of $20 (with some sizes and patterns just $7), it’s not too expensive, and it looks close enough to the photos you see online in real life. If you order it with Prime, you will receive it in two days. And if you are into the look and feel OK sacrificing some comfort to achieve it (or have a secure plan to chill out in air conditioning for the day), go for it.
That said, as fashion trends go, this one is about as fleeting as they get. Some time down the road—perhaps in five years, or maybe just next summer—we will look back on this shirt, and all others like it, the way we look at chevron and low-rise jeans and pencil-thin eyebrows, and think, “Who was wearing that?”
But, of course, many of us were. May 'The Shirt'—and the inorganic material it’s made from—serve as proof.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.