What I Bought from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (and what I considered buying)

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what I bought at the nordstrom anniversary sale

Yesterday the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opened up to cardholders who do not spend a lot on their Nordstrom cards every year.  While I have had a Nordstrom credit card since 1998, there is no balance on it and I rarely use it anymore, except for sales like this.  Last week, the sale opened to those who use their Nordstrom card more often, and they bought a lot of the awesome stuff that was available.  Yet, I was still able to score some of the things I saved on my Wish List from the sale preview.  Below I share what I bought from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, as well as what I considered buying and why I chose not to buy it.

What I Bought at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Honestly, I don't need anything… but there were some items that I really liked and hope when they arrive I find they are a smart choice for this new normal to add style, comfort, and fill holes in my closet.  Luckily with Nordstrom, each purchase has free shipping and free returns so if items are a miss I can pack them up and my postal worker can pick it up from my residence the next day.

Frame Sweater

Frame Surplice Wool and Cashmere Sweater

I have owned sweaters like this off and on for decades.  I love a wrap style, I love how I can wear it alone and have a sexy cozy look with leggings and boots, add a cami for a more casual look with more coverage, how they often work well thrown over dresses, and it gets a completely different effect over a lightweight turtleneck.  I have bought sweaters from Frame before and find them high quality, and also to fit true to size.  Knowing Frame and also because it's in a classic color that transcends trends (and changes in my personal style aesthetic), I was more accepting of the price (just under $200). I got it in size Large.

Ray Ban 54mm Square Sunglasses Review

Ray-Ban 54mm Square Sunglasses

I have worn Ray-Ban 62mm aviator sunglasses for almost two decades.  I will occasionally buy a trendy pair from QUAY or another reputable lower-priced brand but I always go back to my Ray-Bans.  Something about this square style and the blue gradient lenses called to me.  I liked the idea of a lesser-tinted pair of sunglasses to wear with a mask, and liked the idea of the square shape against a mask, adding some geometry. I don't know if I'll like these, they're smaller than I'm used to but I'm willing to try at this discounted price (just under $115).

Nordstrom Cooling Down Alternative Mattress Pad

Nordstrom Cooling Down Alternative Mattress Pad

I've changed my sheets, I've changed my pillow, I've changed my pajamas, I've changed the temperature of the room, added fans, and I still wake up many nights in a pool of sweat.  I figured I'd try this, I knew many of you would also be curious if it works.  We shall see…

Zella leggings review

Zella Studio Light High Waist Print 7/8 Leggings

All my leggings are wrong for my current fitness routine.  They're stretched out, my body shape has changed, and most of them are too thick and bulky for the Peloton bike.  I liked the print of these, I've bought Zella before and liked them, and I liked that they are described as incredibly lightweight and moisture-wicking.  I ordered a Medium; I don't know if I am a medium now but I do know all my Zella leggings in Large are now sliding down during bike rides.

Zella crop leggings review

Zella High Waist Studio Light Crop Leggings

Same as above, I am looking to update my activewear with some lightweight leggings that won't slide down mid-workout.  I also liked this print, I think it will be pretty with pastels and highlighter brights as well as black.

j. crew leopard bomber sweater jacket

J. Crew Leopard Bomber Sweater Jacket 

I saw this sweater jacket around midnight Sunday night when finishing up my Nordstrom sale post and thought it was a really good choice this fall and winter and into spring for working from home.  I like that it has more structure than a cardigan, which can veer into loungewear territory, but is still soft and cozy.  It has pockets, it would look cute with joggers, but could also dress up if it leaves the house with a graphic tee and jeans, with a black lightweight turtleneck and tweed trousers, with black ankle pants and a black and white striped tee… with a lot of things.  It also comes in camo (and black but that's sold out right now) but you know me, I find leopard to be a neutral!  I got it in Large.

Madewell Madison Rib Side Tie Cardigan

Madewell Madison Rib Side-Tie Cardigan

This was the first item I put on my sale wishlist, but now looking at it I worry it may be the first thing I return.  I love the concept, I think it's chic but also perfect for working from home… but knowing me I fear those sleeves will be falling in my coffee and soup.  I hope I am wrong because I think it will look great with jeans and boots if I leave the house, and over a t-shirt or lightweight turtleneck with leggings or joggers when working from home.  It looks like the kind of cardigan I'd also love for travel.

What I Considered Buying from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

There were many things in the sale that I loved, but couldn't justify buying because of the price, or the lack of need in my current life.  These are them, with the reason that they didn't make the cut:

Coats and Jackets

Let's be honest, I have coats that will get me through whatever weather Mother Nature has in store for us the next three seasons.  Snow, rain, wind… I have it.  I may not like it, it may not be in pristine condition, it may not fit perfectly, but I know I don't have to work outside the home and I don't have plans for any social occasions where a nice new coat is desired so I am going to work with what I have.  However, these coats were making me drool:

best outerwear from the nordstrom anniversary sale

The first row are raincoats.  I got a trench from Universal Standard a while ago (you can see it in this post) but it's not water-resistant at all, it was a bit big for me than and with my lifestyle changes it's now way too big.  I have this water-repellent jacket, I've had it for a while (seen here and here) and honestly… it's fine.  I stopped wearing it because it got too snug in the shoulders and arms to wear anything heavyweight under it, but now it fits better.  But if I didn't have it and didn't psych myself into embracing what I have, I would have tried either this red trench from Pendleton that's usually $245 and on sale for $149.90 (omg the color and I am such a sucker for Pendleton), this hooded longer trench from Lauren Ralph Lauren on sale for $149.90 when it's usually $240 (I've always had luck with RLR for outerwear and have bought it during the NSale before), or this windproof and water-resistant insulated raincoat from Bernardo that's regularly $195 but on sale for $116.90 (I love Bernardo and find the fit and quality always stellar).

The second row are for cold weather.  I bought a Bernardo coat during an NSale a few years ago (see it on me here and here) and I love it.  But it is at least four years old and after all the washings the pockets have gotten weird and sticky/plasticky and it's looking a little worn.  I also would love to switch from black to a color, but still a color that won't look grody after a day dealing with slush and rain and such.  Also my coat only has a thin hood that packs into the collar.  This one also from Bernardo would be a fantastic replacement.  Good color, proper hood, the same strategic seaming to work with one's figure, plus it's made with bluesign®-approved fabric and other sustainably produced components.  Regularly $225, it's on sale for $134.90, and considering how my last Bernardo has held up and also kept me warm and dry on the grossest winter days and nights, I know it would be a good value.  But I am going to try to get one more winter in with my current Bernardo and if it craps out on me in any way, I have a really old dingy orange Lands' End Squall (seen in this post saying I got it in 2005) that I use for shoveling and winter chores that will get the job done.  And as for the giraffe-print car coat… I think it's a chic coat.  It reminds me of my old Via Spiga coat, and a dark green leopard print car coat I got eons ago from Arden B.  And I believe I still have that Via Spiga coat deep in the recesses of our office closet so I am going to pull that out.  And honestly, I'm not likely going anywhere nice this winter so I have my US bomber and my US Kanda to be an alternative to my Bernardo.


shoes nordstrom sale

I didn't buy any shoes during the sale because I had to be honest with myself that I don't need them now and can foresee that they won't be needed through 2021.  I was seeing them through my 2019 lens, not the one of this new normal.  And because I did a recent closet edit and made a recent boot purchase, they aren't as needed as I thought.

  • I think Sperry Saltwaters are a good multifunction boot.  Like the L.L. Bean duck boot, it's one that works for snow, for rain, for mud, and everything in between.  And honestly, I do own the equivalent, a pair of BOGS.  Thing is, the BOGS are a bit uncomfortable when worn for long spans of time, and the shaft is so high they are hard to get on and off.  I was using this to justify buying the Saltwaters, but since I just bought these waterproof hiking boots for times when I will do a lot of walking, if I need such a boot as these I can take the time to wiggle on the BOGS.
  • Below them are Blondo waterproof booties that I suggested in my Nordstrom Anniversary Sale picks post. I think they look cool, I love they can be pulled on easily, and I adore that they are waterproof.  They seem so practical yet stylish! But Alison, do you have a need for them?  You have these expensive La Canadienne boots you bought last year.  They are also waterproof and easy to put on thanks to the side zipper. Alison, you've worn these boots with leggings, with joggers, with jeans, and everything you'd wear with these Blondo boots.  Sure the Blondos are taupe and will lighten up your wardrobe and look chic with athleisure, but that's not enough to warrant the purchase, especially when your white Adidas Superstar sneakers are still bright and crisp and will achieve the same thing on non-wet days.
  • Okay, so these weird Sorel sneakers I suggested in yesterday's post.  They are so weird I adore them.  I love the pops of orange/coral, I'd love them with some leggings and my bomber jacket.  I'd love them with a t-shirt dress and a leather moto jacket. I'd love them with faux leather leggings and a black slouchy cashmere sweater tunic. But I really truly do not need these.  I have my white Adidas Superstar sneakers.  I have my workout sneakers.  I even have a pair of black low-cut Chucks collecting dust in my closet.  And oh yeah, I also have my Cariumas.
  • I have been looking at these really weird shoes from Ilse Jacobson for months.  They come in a bunch of colors, I think I like the orange best.  I think they're such a fun alternative to slip-on sneakers and would be nice and breezy in the summer.  I could wear them with sundresses to the farmers market and they'd be a great pop of color with white linen pants and striped tees.  I'd love them at the beach, to throw on with denim shorts and a linen shirt for walking the Boardwalk and… let's be honest I'm not going anywhere this summer where I can't wear what I already own.  I decided I'll hold off on any more summer shoes so I will have the money to buy them next summer.
  • If this was normal life, I'd be right at the point where I need to replace my gym sneakers.  And I have been intrigued by On Running for a while.  And I like this blush/low-contrast color as I think they'd also look cool with athleisure in neutrals like the cream zipper hoodie I'm wearing today and the cabi joggers this season in green.  But I am not going to the gym, so my sneakers are still in decent condition and will likely last the rest of the year.  And if I am wearing my cream zipper hoodie and a pair of olive joggers, it's likely in my home where I will be sporting cozy socks and/or Birkenstocks.  And if I do leave the house, I can do it in my Adidas Superstars.


I realize that buying clothing in 2020 is either because this new normal has created a hole in my closet that I need to fill, or because I am so over wearing the same black joggers and t-shirts I want newness to feel some sort of positive boost for my everyday.  This sale got me off track and I started adding to my wishlist items that are great… but they aren't great for my current existence.

what I would buy from the nordstrom anniversary sale

  • Nordstrom Signature is fantastic cashmere – thick and lofty and lasts.  I have Nordstrom Signature cashmere over a decade old so I was super drawn to this cozy  blue turtleneck tunic.  How lovely would it be to be enveloped in it on a cold winter day, paired with some ponte leggings and fuzzy socks.  And it would be lovely, but I cannot justify that pricetag when I have a fuzzy cozy hot pink oversized J. Crew sweater I got this year, and a Nordstrom Signature cashmere sweater dress that I have worn with leggings that could achieve a similar feeling though a different silhouette.  So I didn't get it, but I still love it.
  • I wear my cabi cropped cardigan all the time.  I like that it's thick but not stiff, it's easy to throw over a t-shirt, but it's more polished than a hoodie.  So I was super drawn to this sweater, which I thought would be a great alternative as the temps drop. Rails makes super thick and soft and lovely sweaters.  But then I thought… I've washed my cabi cardigan maybe a dozen times since the pandemic started. I love it because I can wash it and throw it over a curtain rod overnight and the next day it's like new ready to be worn and stained again. And this cardigan, as beautiful as it is, should not be attempted to be machine washed on gentle.  And right now I'm not in a place where I'm up for taking work at home clothes to the dry cleaners.  So I didn't get it, but that doesn't mean I don't adore it.
  • Another company that makes amazing sweaters is Vince.  I've owned some over the years, all bought during sales like this, and they are soft and well made and hold up and look so cool.  And this blue v-neck looked so cool.  Front tuck it into some joggers, wear with black faux leather leggings, pair with faded distressed denim, wear with white jeans… I could go on and on.  But just like the cashmere turtleneck above… I don't really need it.  And it's not a color or a style that blows me away so much I know it will “spark joy.”  So I didn't get it, but I do still want it!
  • If you wear it, you will manifest it?  I can't say I wasn't drawn to this shirt hoping it would make it come true.  And I liked that it was a slouchy cut.  But I've decided if I'm buying any graphic t-shirts this year, a portion has to go to some cause.  There is so much going on right now, if I am going to proclaim something on my chest I need to back it up with support of some kind.
  • This is totally the kind of shirt I love.  Wacky print, mixed media, slouchy style.  But it's for Alison 2019, not Alison 2020.  Alison 2019 would wear it with skinny high-waisted jeans and boots and a bunch of gold jewelry for dinner at a restaurant or drinks with girl friends.  It would be comfy yet cool, I wouldn't mind if it fell off a shoulder and showed my simple black bra strap, I'd wear it to a concert with cutoff denim shorts.  But 2020 Alison would spill marinara on it and even though it says machine wash and tumble dry she knows from past experience with FreePeople tops that it still will shrink a bit and not be quite as great as it was before and after three spills of marinara the top would be in the bag to take to GreenDrop.
  • I have a Levi's denim jacket.  I have a Soma denim jacket.  As I type this there is a box in my front hall that just arrived from Chico's that has a denim jacket in it. But for the same reason that I mention all these three denim jackets is why I was drawn to this one from Madewell.  It's not the same silhouette or the same wash, and I just love me some denim jackets!  I wear them all the time – I throw them on for errands, I love them for travel, I even wear them to the gym knowing they won't stick to sweaty skin and can easily be washed.  But here's the thing Alison… you aren't running errands, you aren't traveling, and you're not even going to the gym.  So I didn't get it.
  • I love my Athleta jeans, but due to being worn and washed at least weekly and my body changing they don't fit as well as they used to.  These jeans from rag & bone looked like a good alternative and I liked the gray color.  But what makes my Athleta jeans so great and worn so often is that they are as stretchy and comfy as my joggers.  And while these have 2% stretch, I had a feeling they would not be nearly as stretchy or comfy.  And since I'm not going anywhere, there's no need to have variety from my faded beloved “mom jean” pair until they fall apart.  And by then, my body may be different once more.  So I passed, but I do like these very much.
  • For years, I used the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale to indulge in my love of leather clothing.  Each year I'd get a leather skirt or dress or jacket or whatever.  Halogen makes nice, soft leather at an amazing price and I saw this skirt and thought graphic tee and sneakers.  Turtleneck and tall boots.  Slouchy sweater and flats.  The Rails cardigan above… all of the ideas so cool and so for an Alison who heads to Georgetown to work a day at The Wing and meets a friend for lunch and a brand for coffee and then goes to a blogger event where she takes selfies with her friends while clinking glasses of Prosecco and heads home in an Uber head down towards her phone, sharing the day on Instagram Stories. And there is no place where I can rock a leather skirt like this anytime soon.  I'd rather save my money and splurge on something completely badass when I am able to go back to such an existence.
  • I saw this jumpsuit from Maggy London and fell in love.  So pretty, so me.  But I'd totally have to take it to the tailor to take up the shoulders and cut off some off the hem. And then, in a theme from all these bullets… I have nowhere to wear it anytime soon.  But gosh it is beautiful!

Once my purchases arrive, I will do a follow-up post letting you know what are hits and misses.  And I want to continue to hear from you!  What did you get or are planning to get at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?  Let's help one another with honest reviews so we can be sure we're making purchases that are beneficial for our style, our sanity, and our new normal!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Thank you for posting pieces like this. I get to live vicariously through your Fall and Winter photos while I sip my iced tea in shorts and a t-shirt in front of a fan! I live in hot, humid, sunny Florida. A rare cool day for us is anything below 75 degrees!

  2. Alison, I’m commenting for the first time here (longtime lurker) to say how much I love your take on this sale. The fact that you aren’t giving in to the hype, that you’re really examining what you actually need, and understanding and not listening to the wants—it’s all SO REFRESHING. And so needed! I’m taking a page from your self-talk and talking myself out of the Blondo sneaker boots (I never wear the taupe booties I already own, it rains in California for about one month during the year, I am bored and being influenced by bloggers who are probably going to return their purchases when the sale is over). Thank you for doing what you do! You’re the best! P.S. I’m buying sunscreen which I *do* need and making sure I do it through your link so you can get the affiliate income. P.P.S. About the Ilse Jacobson sneaks—they stretch out A LOT. I got mine in last October, loved them at first but within a few months they felt loose on my feet. And I don’t want to wear socks with them. They look cool but I think you should save your money for something better. Vince Blair slip ons are expensive but they go on sale periodically and I have never regretted buying them.

  3. Chiming in to say that I have the Iles Jacobsen shoes in yellow/mustard with white soles and they are AWESOME! I have bunions and I walk everywhere. I’m not a yellow person but a lot of my summer clothes have a bit of yellow, and it’s like sunshine and clouds on my feet. So cheerful which btw I really need right now. (They wouldn’t suit someone with a narrow foot IMO.)

  4. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the mattress pad as I have the same problem (even with the Cool Nights pjs from Soma [they do help some]). If any of the sheets or pillows you tried helped at all, I’d love to hear about those too! (I need to replace all of my bedding anyway.)

  5. Alison, may I ask how those Danner hiking boots fit on a wide foot? I’m a C width and my recollection is that you wear C or D. Did you size up in length?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. They’re why I got them, reviews said they had a roomy toebox. They are so roomy I can fit insoles and wool socks in them without any pressure. I stayed with my usual size 8!

  6. HI Alison, I posted the following comment on their Facebook page and feel even stronger almost a week later: “Question for Nordstrom: You have spent a lot of time this year focusing on equality issues (LGBTQ, BLM) and that is FANTASTIC. Then you turn around and roll out a sale that gives a huge advantage to the 1% (able to spend over 15k per year on your credit card) – which flies in the face of your recent equality stances. Can you be transparent and share data about # of ppl who are part of the affected groups that you have just supported that are equally represented in your economic strata accessibility plan?” I”m just about over them at this point.

        1. No idea but I don’t think the person who used an alias and fake email address realizes I can also see her IP and know exactly who left this asshole reply to your important comment. I’m sorry Kathy, ignore her.

  7. I’m glad you shared your picks with us & why you did not order certain items. It makes sense to buy less right now as we continue to navigate this pandemic. I’ll chime in with a few others; it’s so annoying to realize that certain bloggers & influencers are buying tons of merchandise to take pics in & then return. Then it’s frustrating for the rest of us to see things we’d like to buy to actually wear, only to find out they are sold out well before we are able to shop. Anyway, I’ll look forward to your reviews once your picks arrive!

  8. As usual, you’ve summed up everything wrong with this sale, this year. C’mon Nordstrom, read the room! It’s why I don’t feel bad for retailers that are failing. They aren’t paying attention to their customer’s needs.

    I especially love you voicing your thought process. I feel like you are in my head. I covet things for a life I’m not living — lunch with friends, trips to museums, etc.

    I’m not buying anything this year, but will tell you I stalked the hell out of the Vince Weekend Cashmere V neck and I LOVE IT. The blue was different last year, but so pretty and versatile as heck. I wore it a lot at home and going out last year. And have even pulled it out for a few walks in early quarantine days. Vince is my favorite cashmere in terms of style. Quality is very good. If you do order, and it’s the same as last year, I found it slightly oversized. So you might want to try a M and L.


  9. The Nordstrom sale was such a special event! So sad it’s changed
    Everything I was interested in was sold out on day 1 of the preview.
    Not a fan of the new process……

  10. I’m beginning to have a real resentment for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I’ve been a cardholder for years but don’t get access until the 13th – as has been the last several years, almost all of my “wish list” items are sold out already. I don’t understand the use of letting Influencers have such early purchase dates to show us all what is available, increase the “hype” and then those items aren’t even available to purchase when we’re allowed into the sale. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot Nordstrom – and, sowing some very negative vibes toward your store while you do it!

    1. I really don’t get this whole new NSale concept. I’m not even supposed to call it an NSale, Nordstrom is anti that terminology. Influencers go in without masks into the store and try on 50 kazillion things for swipe ups, those who don’t go in the store make sure to spent a crap ton all year long so they can be first to buy all the things. Like I saw people share receipts of $25K of stuff they bought just to do try-ons for the sale. And then the stuff isn’t in stock for their followers to even buy. And half the stuff… where are we going to wear it? Nordstrom was my absolute favorite retailer for EVER, before I even blogged. But now the new direction of their merchandise and how they focus so hard not just on influencers but a very specific niche of them… especially with the direction of fashion and the economy I think it’s a really stupid move. Still shopped, but not as much as I have in the past.

      1. I have to wonder just how many people fit their model of the ideal customer. $15k in a year on a retailer who sells no durable goods (no appliances, equipment, etc) is just nuts. Is the market for $1500 shoes and $800 sweaters that large in the end? I’m not some bitter, broke, wanna-have … I’m solidly in the top 5-10% income wise (depending on bonuses). But I just don’t get their model anymore. Fabulous products PLUS great service is why I used to shop there. I feel like they are slipping on the Service aspect with their sales models. I’ll pay $1500 for a suit but even so I’m not spending $15k/yr on all my clothing – let alone at a single retailer.

    2. I’m in the same boat, CeeCee. I have 4 things on my Wish list, and 3 of them are already sold out. The first was the Madewell denim jacket which showed up as sold out on 8/4, the very first day. They only offered a couple of them in a 2X? So when the local store manager emailed asking if I wanted to set up an appointment with a personal shopper for the sale, I replied expressing my disappointment. She did respond (one point for Nordstrom), said some items were very popular and sold out quickly and to keep checking back during the sale. Sorry Nordstrom, I’m disappointed in you.

  11. Question. How did your closet edit & decision making that went into your closet edit influence what you bought? For example, the 3 sweaters. Do they fill holes? Do they replace/upgrade something you already have in your closet?

    1. Great question! I got rid of many sweaters that weren’t… comfortable. Too fitted, too complicated, too embellished. They looked cool but I never wore them except for special situations. I realized I wanted more relaxed of sweaters that work with slim stretchy jeans and boots, or joggers and leggings at home. And I saw that the sweaters that last are the ones I spent a bit more on because they were usually better quality, fit better, and survived cleaning better. The closet cleanout made me realize I need to slow down, buy less, and when I do buy, not be afraid to spend more so I get what is right and lasts.

  12. I’ve ordered a few things you’ve recommended – I’ll share what I think when they arrive! But I wanted to say I’ve been wearing On running shoes for a while – they are fantastic! I’m a huge fan and have introduced several others to the brand. (Note: I am not a runner.)

      1. I have two pairs and love them, but make sure they work for what you want. I can only wear them for indoor cardio or chest/back and arms/shoulder lifting. Nothing outdoors–acorns and gravel stick in them instantly. No leg day–they’re so squishy they make you wobbly for lunges, squats, etc. That being said, they’re still the most comfortable shoes I own!

    1. I am too and surprised as Madewell is one of the few brands that makes the same silhouettes in plus. Maybe because it’s a Nordstrom exclusive? I hope Madewell makes a similar sweater on their own site this fall/winter and I hope it comes in other colors. I think it could be a real winner!

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