I got home from vacation and I was struggling to get into the blog writing mindframe. I have been go go going and it hasn’t been for the blog and the change of mindset has been so healthy and energizing it’s a change. I feel like how my daughter likely will feel in a couple of weeks when she has to go back to school. I decided to scroll through the new arrivals at Nordstrom and see if anything inspired me for a blog post topic.
I scrolled with the default filter, Sort by Featured and… wow. Did I go on vacation and come back a different person? The selection was not inspiring me. I couldn’t imagine wearing most of it; even if I had a super firm and slender body I still wouldn’t pick these items for my wardrobe. It all felt so… young. Not youthful, I dig youthful. I embrace youthful and don’t feel that trends have an age limit. It felt young as in my daughter’s cutoff denim shorts from Justice that have a rainbow glitter tux stripe down the edge. Tux stripe detail – youthful. Glitter rainbow tux stripe – young. And Nordstrom was feeling hella young.
The pricepoints were appealing, downright competitive with lower-priced department stores like Kohl’s and Macy’s. I’ve been preaching for years that Nordstrom is actually wallet-friendly with in-house brands like Caslon and Halogen. But these prices, brands, and silhouettes were less Halogen and Caslon and more Brass Plum. And yes, I know I’m showing my age calling it Brass Plum and not BP. but I think if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you also remember the Brass Plum department at Nordstrom.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think young equals bad. Young is great. I enjoyed being young and dressing young. But I'm not young nor do I desire to be young again. I right now love very much being my age and want to celebrate it, showcase it, and do it the justice it deserves with what I wear.
Where To Find Fashion for Grown Women?
I then stopped by the Bloomingdale’s website. It’s funny, when I spoke to a contact with an affiliate company last year she suggested I focus on Bloomingdale’s saying it was more appropriate for my audience. And I tried this winter, but I struggled. As what I’d call an online shopping aficionado, I am a super Nordstrom search function, site design, and navigation website fan and Bloomies’ site just doesn’t compare. It was harder to pull the images for shopping widgets, and sizes sold out more quickly. But I went to the New Arrivals at Bloomingdale’s and scrolled through and felt as though their buyers are buying for me. They're curating fashion for grown women.
At first glance, the pieces aren’t that drastically different. There’s a long-sleeved printed maxi, a dress styled with sneakers, there’s a dress with puffy sleeves, a fanny pack, a pantsuit, a deep rich shade of red, some goldenrod. But Bloomingdale’s was more… restrained. It didn’t need to shout the trends, it just needed a hint of current to be cool.
This is an age where we can become invisible. We can choose how to use this fact.
- We can be sad about our invisibility. We give up on trying to be seen, those days are gone along with our youthful figure.
- We can be embarrassed about our invisibility. If we had worked out more, cared more for our skin, spent more money on our hair, did this or that maybe this wouldn't have happened. We recreate the magic of our youth by bringing back looks that did us well in the past. We research ways to reverse the hands of time and look current and youthful.
- We can be angry about our invisibility. We fight against it, speak up about it, change the narrative. We write about it, protest it, and use our style to be heard. We wear bright colors, bold accessories, clothing with messages.
- We can be excited about our invisibility. We feel the freedom and celebrate it by using that time and effort in other ways. Clothing becomes a tool to pursue our interests, style is something only to please ourselves.
- We can ignore our so-called invisibility. Who says we’re invisible? Who says we’re attractive? Both are arbitrary. We dress in a way that makes us feel the way we know we are – strong, sexy, smart, sophisticated, silly, fun, fierce, feminine, fabulous.
None of these decisions are wrong, and through our midlife, we may feel all these feelings, even within one week. But right now I’m all about dressing for the way I feel, not the way society feels about me.
Shop My Straight-Sized Picks for Fall at Bloomingdale's:
That clothing at Bloomingdale’s was for a woman who knew she could be visible but didn’t crave it constantly. She wanted to control that narrative. It was clothing that was a slightly higher pricepoint, but in turn, was a slightly more classic look that wouldn’t be a has-been trend in a season’s time. It was clothing that made me have thoughts about makeup, hair, the height of my heels, and the height of my bustline. Good thoughts. Emily Ratajkowski with armpit hair kind of thoughts where my clothes now aren’t for the male gaze but for my sexy strong smart self. It was clothing for grown-ass women.
Shop my Plus-Sized Picks for Fall at Bloomingdale's:
Bloomies, I am going to try you. With so many retailers focusing on GenZ, I feel like voting for my visibility with my wallet. However, Bloomingdale's still has a problematic website. If I had control over their website update, I would add:
- Have more model variety. I scroll through an entire page of New Arrivals on Bloomingdale's and every single headless model is slim and white. When I hover over the item, I often receive a second image on a plus-size model, or a different angle worn by a model who isn't white. Why not have those secondary photos the primary photo? If the average American woman is a size 16 and 40% of the population is not white, it makes sense to have diversity on your website. Not only will it better represent the population, I bet it will also increase sales. If we see ourselves, we're more likely to shop.
- Have a “flatlay” version of the product. This is where Nordstrom excels. Front view, back view, sometimes a side view or a closeup of detail, and then the image just floating in white space. I want this for selfish reasons – to be able to use your products in collages. But considering how Nordstrom is killing the game with bloggers and websites, I don't see it that terrible a decision to offer images that are website-friendly to help us promote you.
- Have images downloadable as a JPG. Same thing. I get retailers not wanting their graphics stolen by other sites, it happens to me too. But it's a pain in the butt to have to screenshot each image just to be able to make a collage like the one in this post. Sometimes you need to sacrifice control for accessibility.
- Have the search tools persistent. If I scroll down a bit and realize I want to filter by size, color, or price, it's annoying to have to scroll back up to the top of the screen to find the capability. If you can have your chat function persistent, you can also have your sidebar persistent.
- Move your “help” button. Bloomingdale's offers the ability to chat with an in-store style expert – cool! However, it covers the navigation tools and you have to scroll up and down to get around it to pick which colors, sizes, or brands you want to search for. It's annoying AF and even as an “online shopping aficionado” I still accidentally click it.
- Don't make me have to “Apply.” If I click in the filter I want to search for dresses, let me search for dresses. To search for the “apply” button is so 2010.
- If your “Wear it With” feature is going to have so much real estate, have it make sense. Nine times out of ten, the items chosen to wear with a garment do NOT go. Tory Burch sandals with a wool blazer, a plaid skirt with a floral top, feminine chiffon floral skirt with an athletic sweatshirt.
- Offer a more detailed size guide. Bloomingdale's has a generic size guide, but each brand has a differing opinion on what is a size Large. For some, a large is a 12/14, for others it's an 8/10, and some brands don't even use these conventional methods for sizing (hello Universal Standard where a Large is 22/24 or City Chic where Large is 20/22). I have ordered items from Bloomingdale's and found them too small to even get on my body due to the lack of this information. For plus-size, you're better with offering number and letter, but straight-sized customers are often left to order blindly.
- Increase your plus-size range, as well as sizing for larger straight sizes. Currently, there are over 500 New Arrivals for women on the Bloomingdale's website. When I filter to size 16W I am left with only four options. At Nordstrom, their New Arrivals went from around 1,100 to 599 options. While I may fit into what Bloomingdale's sees as a Large, a large percentage of my readership does not and I can't support a retailer that doesn't properly cater to 67% of the population.
For those who find Bloomingdale's too expensive, use their selection as a guide to shop elsewhere. Notice the trends – leather, skin prints, rich reds, plaids, velvet, gold chains, wallpaper florals, chiffon, soft neutrals, blazers and suiting, shades of rust goldenrod, and orange. I'll be writing soon about fall and winter fashion trends but this is a good start. I've shopped budget-friendly retailers and have similar concept pieces below in this carousel:
Shop Fall Fashion Trends for Less:
I will be ordering from Bloomingdale's this fall and will share my experiences – do they provide clothing that looks as good in person as it does on the site? Am I right that they are buying for grown-ass women, or was I just swayed by the models in fierce poses? Do they carry great clothes for all, or just in smaller sizes?
Have you noticed the trend of many retailers you've loved starting to skew young instead of youthful? Where do you find stylish modern clothing for grown-ass women? Let me know in the comments!