Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2019: My thoughts, tips, and what I bought!

Grab a snack, this is gonna be a long one!

I have always had a love/hate relationship with the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. The concept is fantastic because you don’t have to wait until the end of a season to buy whatever is left at a discount price. The sale features new items for Fall and Fall seems to be one of my favorites for fashion – who doesn’t love layers and boots?! So I get excited to purchase #allthethings and then I feel so let-down by Nordstrom every year. Orders are cancelled, sizes are gone… I think a lot of people feel let down by Nordstrom to be honest. This year might take the cake on that one.

Let me back up a bit and explain a few things. If you’re familiar with the sale and are just here to get angry like me, continue on to the rant. If you just want to know what I bought, scroll a little farther.

If you don’t know about #NSale, it is the Nordstrom “Anniversary Sale” that goes on every July. What makes it *special* is that NEW stuff for Fall goes on sale FIRST, as soon as it hits the shelves. When the sale is over, prices go UP (if there’s anything left in-stock!)

Every year, those who have a Nordstrom credit or debit card (they no longer offer the debit card for new members) are granted early access to shop the sale. They usually run out of stock or sizes on popular items but sometimes they restock things. The powers that be decided to offer fewer items but more stock in those items this year to try to help with that (it didn’t work). They also decided to let the *top tier* card holders (the big spenders) shop before the bottom tier card holders. This included basically every blogger and influencer and, well…

Problem #1: …all those influencers scooped up the most popular items so they could try to convince everyone to buy said items. And by the time the sale opened up to the rest of the cardholders, there was none left for the rest of us.

Problem #2: Nordstrom was really pushing the -Buy online, pick up in store- method for this year. They even offered a $10 reward to everyone who took advantage of this option (I have yet to receive my $10). I don’t know about everyone else but here’s what happened to me: I placed multiple orders right at 12:30 when the sale opened up. The orders placed were meant to be available for pickup SAME DAY. I then went to the store and shopped to see what I might have missed and try on some things. I stayed until the store was closing and there were several orders they hadn’t even started on yet. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the sizes and colors in my order were probably available in that store when the order was placed at 12:30 pm but mysteriously unavailable at 11:00pm. I didn’t realize I was relying on a short-staffed and underprepared department to fight for sizes selected from the same stock as thousands of excited sale shoppers who were there in-person.

Problem #3: *Double Points Days* …WASTED. Cardholders get points for every dollar they spend. Earn enough points and you get bonus *cash* to spend in their stores. Depending on your level, you can select a day or days during the year when you earn double the number of points on your purchases. I get 2 days per year and I usually use 1 during the anniversary sale and 1 around the holidays. Like SO many other cardholders, I used one on Friday because I was planning to make the most of my purchases on Day 1 of the sale. Well, so far around half of my items have been cancelled and we are all being told to try again when the sale opens to the public because they will restock. But we lose out on the double points. It’s like – hey, you ended up only getting 3 things out of the 20 that you ordered on your double points day but go ahead and (re)buy those 17 cancelled items on this other day when they are suddenly in stock again and lose out on $60+ of bonus cash. Um….no.

Dear Nordstrom, PLEASE do better next year. Staff your departments appropriately so that there are enough employees to pull orders before store shoppers can get to them! Or, separate your inventory. OR open online orders BEFORE those cardholders are allowed to shop in-person so your staff has time to fulfill orders before everything is gone!! Also, figure out a way to honor purchases for a minimum period of time before cancelling. Like, maybe keep all those pending orders as pending until you do a re-stock instead of cancelling the orders and then re-stocking. Or maybe you could at least create some kind of sign-up for re-stock notifications on items?! Just about every small boutique store online has this capability now so surely a behemoth store like you can figure it out? Something to look into! And, Nordstrom, I say all of this to you out of frustration but also out of love as a loyal customer. *They* say that the people we love the most can make us the most angry. Love you. Mean it.

Moving on…

In addition to hearing of others’ frustrations about the sale, I’ve heard a lot of shade being thrown at it for various reasons. Some social-media-type-people say they aren’t sharing the sale because people are sick of hearing about it. Some say it’s just a bunch of crap you don’t need. Some say it is overhyped and the only reason people buy things is because they are being *influenced* to do so. Blah, blah, blah. I love to play devil’s advocate about nearly everything (my Mom tells me I should have been a lawyer) so I could argue all sides but let me attempt to explain my un-influenced opinions on the whole thing:

I completely agree, 100% that sales can be a TRAP and you (I) end up spending more money on things I don’t need. I’m really trying to live quality over quantity and only buy the things I need so I keep a list and try to stick to it. Rather than browsing what’s available and buying everything I like, I decide ahead of time what I think I need and then try to find items that match the descriptions on the list. In theory. (I also like to keep a list of all the things I really want that are not clothes or that are a LOT more expensive which helps me avoid overspending!)

My specific list looks a little different every year but I usually stock up on some staples and then try to add a few new investment pieces as well. There are some items that are available every year or are available year round but are included as part of the sale. Sometimes I use it as an excuse to stock up, and sometimes I talk myself out of a purchase for the same reason. If it’s classic and timeless, it will be available next year too.

I buy a LOT more than I intend to keep. This is a controversial topic, I know. I’m not trying to advocate for spending all your money without a care or racking up debt. PLEASE don’t do that! But, particularly for this sale, and particularly for a store with the best return policy on the planet, I know that things are going to sell out FAST so if I think about it too long, I’ll miss out. I don’t hem and haw over any decisions – if it’s remotely under consideration, I snag it and decide later. If I’m not sure on a size, I buy two. If I can’t decide between 2 colors, I get both. If I’m not sure about something, I buy it anyways. Once I have everything at home – I try it on. I create outfits. I pair items with things I already own. I take pictures. I accessorize. And the things that obviously don’t work for me go back immediately. And then I take what’s left and I decide which items make my heart sing. Which items am I going to get the most use out of? I keep those and return the rest! It takes a lot of discipline for this method to work. Do so at your own risk! And while buying everything isn’t an option for a lot of people, I still highly recommend using this method for sizing if you can’t try things in store.

I’m looking at the sale this year with a slightly different point of view. I don’t really want what everyone else has so if it’s popular and sells out then forget it. I want to avoid most of the trends, stick to silhouettes that are proven to work for me already, and build a wardrobe with quality pieces that makes it easier to get dressed in the morning.

So…here’s what I got, and some of what I didn’t get…and why:

Click the image to shop items directly!

Every year I get at least one set of the Nordstrom Lingerie Moonlight Pajamas. They are hands down my absolute favorite pajamas. I own several sets and at least 4 different colors/patterns (and wear both S and M). I might go back for the dusty pink set but for now I’ve added the grey stripe ones. These are incredibly soft and after washing them a million times they still look and feel new! They also come in shorts and short sleeve. There is something that feels very #adult about wearing matching pajamas.

I usually get a throw blanket but I didn’t this year. I have enough. And then some. My favorite blankets are part of the sale every year. Incredibly soft and wash really easily. They come in S I X T E E N colors and are under $26!

If you’ve ever wanted anything made by Barefoot Dreams, the sale is a good time to buy. I can’t justify the blankets when the Nordstrom ones are soft and a fraction of the price, but they really are amazing quality and ridiculously soft. I do have a blanket/poncho/wrap thing that I got last year and love and is available again this year. I am a big fan of the cardigans and they have the cozy lounge one as well as the one that looks like your average every day cardigan.

I grab handfuls of basic tees every year. People keep raving about the BP ones because they are $11 and although I do own several, I’m not a huge fan. I don’t like where the sleeve hits and they are SUPER boxy on me. The ones I love the most are the Caslon pocket tees with the scoop neck. I’m a Small but bought Mediums this year for an oversized fit. I also really like the Halogen ones (went with Medium this year for the long sleeve but Small in the short sleeve tunic). They are nice and long and SO soft!! Short sleeve, long sleeve, turtleneck, tunic, v neck, crew neck, ballet neck, ALL available! Not all part of the sale, but ALL a great price.

I wasn’t into the denim this year but it was a bit all over the place at Tyson’s and honestly I’m just kind of in between denim sizes right now. I do LOVE the Topshop Jamie jeans and I grabbed a washed out black pair this year (and have already worn them a few times!). Go UP a size (technically it’s 2 sizes but they only do even sizes). I went with the 30 and they fit like a glove! They are a good high waist (right above the belly button on me) that doesn’t make my arse look flat. Am I the only one who thinks high waisted jeans are super unflattering on the bum? If you like tummy control, grab the Ab Solution jeans by Wit & Wisdom. (Skinny, high waist, camo, distressed, plus size, and more!) If between sizes, go down for these. I also have several pairs of STS Blue that are great and there are several pairs of that brand included in the sale. I. CANNOT. Get on board. With DAD JEANS. (Don’t worry the sale pair sold out anyways) #sorrynotsorry

I usually grab a handful of bras and underwear each year. Hanky Panky is part of the sale and an additional discount if you buy at least 4 pair. I grabbed one of the True & Co bras that I keep seeing Instagram ads for all the time. The verdict is still out on that one and I might trade it in for a SPANX Bra-llelujah Bralette. I was impressed with several Halogen bras this year and grabbed a few of those too. I’ll add socks to this category as well. I try to buy all the same socks so I can simply grab two out of the drawer and not have to worry when one goes missing. I have a bunch of the Nike no show socks which are available in a 3 pack every year for 9.90. I’ve started adding the Zella socks to my collection as well. The Zella stay on better but hurt the top of my foot if I wear them too long.

Shoes. The shoes are good, y’all. GOOD. That is, if you can get any in your size. If I could only pick a couple things from the sale, boots would be on that list every time no matter how many times I change my mind. I’m still waiting on a few pairs to arrive in the mail before I make final decisions about what I’m keeping but there are a lot of good options this year! Nordstrom has already re-stocked (and re-sold out) of a few popular styles like the Converse I picked up, so let’s all hope they keep restocking! There’s a whole lotta snake print and leopard print going on this year in the shoe department. I’m still waiting to see if my second order goes through for the super popular studded snake print flats by Steve Madden. My main goal was a pair of low heel boots or booties and something comfortable but stylish I could slip on with most outfits. The Sorel boots have been on my list for the past 2 years. My husband hates them and I couldn’t care less. There are at least 3 pairs that he hates. (Love you, boo)

I usually end up with a coat and a blazer during the sale. The winter coat that caught my eye sold out in a flash but I also really love this medium weight North Face parka in the olive green color. There were several others that I had to talk myself out of because I have a closet full of blazers and the only winter coat I actually NEED is a ski/snow jacket. This blazer (in black, size S) wasn’t on my list but I decided I would get a lot more use out of it than the long plaid one I had originally planned to pick up. Now I want the same blazer in this pattern. I also wasn’t planning on getting any new cardigans but my Fall/Winter uniform is basically jeans, slacks (does anyone still call them that??) or a skirt with a plain or graphic tee and a blazer or cardigan. On repeat. So when I saw this one on the rack and realized it wasn’t a woven sweater like the rest of them but actually the same soft shirt material as my favorite shirts by the brand, I knew it had to come home with me! And another item in RED for me! (Who AM I?!)

Some random other things I got for myself include this square neck top that I hope they restock because I want both colors (size M), this gorgeous dress that was the only thing that really caught my eye in the preview catalog (size 6, also comes in solid black), this puff sleeve top that I adore but makes me nervous because it must be worn with high waisted bottoms (size M for length), this long sleeve blouse that got me with the billowy sleeves and buttons (size S), this flowy blouse (in pink!) that is a perfect transition piece (size S), this lace trim cami that I talked smack about until I tried it on and then was super bummed I couldn’t find my size in more colors (size S), another cami, and this leopard denim jacket (size S – I could have done XS but wanted extra room in the pits). My husband met me at Nordstrom on the first day of the sale and I had just left the dressing room with a handful of clothes on hangers. The leopard jacket was draped over my arm because it wasn’t on a hanger and he legit thought I already owned it. True story. I also grabbed a wool hat from Something Navy (that is currently Sold Out). I adore it, but I’m not sure how many opportunities I have to wear hats when it’s cold out. (Dear local friends, let’s do lots of winery trips this Fall so I can wear my hat. Kthx)

The beauty department has some really amazing deals going on too! If you love Living Proof, there are a couple different sets to choose from. The Perfect Hair Day set is more than $50 off! It comes with the BIG pump bottles of Shampoo + Conditioner and a Dry Shampoo. I use the shampoo and I love the conditioner but since I can live without it, I’d rather spend my money getting 2 bottles of shampoo elsewhere. I wish I had purchased my GloPRO at the NSale this year instead of at the Sephora sale. It’s a better deal at Nordstrom and comes with the body attachment! Supergoop sunscreen is awesome and if you use the spray bottles, you basically get a free bottle when you buy 2. I have several T3 hair tools which are part of the sale. Got me a Kiehl’s Creme de Corps giant pump bottle of body lotion that should last me at least until next year’s sale and is almost 40% off. There are lots of makeup sets but I didn’t even allow myself to look unless it was something I already use and love and need a refill. (Spoiler alert, nothing met all 3 criteria).

There are about a million other things I probably would have bought if I endless funds or if I was truly a FASHION blogger, tbh. I have some tough decisions to make

My advice to those who want to shop the sale before it’s over:

  1. Don’t buy things because they are on sale, buy them because you have gaps in your wardrobe that you need to fill and you can do so for a great price.
  2. If the regular sale is anything like early access, you might have orders cancelled. If you are shopping online, check out in multiple small orders and have everything shipped to you. If something is available at your local store, go there and grab it in-person. I guarantee you’ll be faster than the *Buy Online Pickup In Store* department. Selecting that option DOES NOT RESERVE THE ITEM FOR YOU.
  3. Return items as quickly as possible so the inventory will be available for everyone else!
  4. STALK the site for re-stocks
  5. If you’re not sure or don’t feel like you can afford all the things you want, I encourage you to browse the sale for the types of things that are available. Take note, and make a list for next year! I try to do this myself every year even though I always pick up quite a few things. Next year, I’m looking at cashmere, Stuart Weitzman, and a couple of new beauty tools.

For reference, I am 5’8″ with a long torso. I wear an 8.5 or 39 European. My feet are narrow and FLAT and my calves are a 13″ circumference. I am all over the map with clothing sizes at the moment but generally speaking: 34D, Small tops, 27/28 pants, 6 dresses (hello, hips!), and super dainty size 4.75 ring finger.