Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Tips and Thoughts (That You Won’t Get Anywhere Else)

Phew, these mirrors were dirty.  But let’s ignore those for a minute because I scoped out the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale RIGHT when early access opened and it was extremely picked over.  I have a feeling the people with more status and the personal stylists got access to a lot of the stuff I was eyeing.  Nevertheless, I have thoughts–oh, do I have thoughts.  I want to share what’s worth it, what’s not, and give you some real perspective on what you should be buying for fall (because you know, summer just started). 

There’s often a sense of urgency with this sale and for some items, that sense of urgency is real!  The buyers don’t tend to go deep on a lot of things, but instead, they have a wide offering (that’s a learning from my days at a Nordstrom company). 

So here’s some insider info:

  • The sweaters aren’t anything to write home about.  As a sweater lover, it’s disappointing to see anything that stood out in design or quality.  In previous years, the sweaters have been AMAZING.  I usually love snagging an expensive cashmere and a trendy, look-for-less sweater, this year’s selection really left me high and dry.  This Vince sweater is actually gorgeous in both colors (TTS, but if you want it oversized, size up).  The inexpensive sweaters are lackluster–you aren’t even going to wear them right now and once it’s cold you could honestly get something better at H&M for half the price.
  •  A lot of my favorite brands didn’t participate in the sale.  Joie?  ALC?  IRO?  Veda?  Bueller? Just a handful of years ago, the sale would feature special designer bags made exclusively for the sale (I am thinking of Chloe and Phillip Lim).  This year’s sale is really heavy in Nordstrom labels (Caslon, Halogen, Treasure & Bond, Chelsea 28); this isn’t a dig, just an observation, and perhaps strategically this is what makes sense for the company–it’s clearly working for them.  I, however, used to get really excited about seeing the designer exclusives that were made just for the sale–it made it really special and exciting.
  • Keep checking throughout the sale if something you want sells out.  It usually comes back due to returns.  AND, if it doesn’t, keep checking back after the sale.  About 6-8 weeks after the sale, a lot of Anniversary Sale product gets marked down 40%.  And then a few weeks later it gets marked down 60%.  By October/November, most unsold Anniversary Sale inventory is at the Rack at a deep discount.  Tip: if there’s something you really have your heart set on, call a Nordstrom associate at the store, however, I’ve always personally had better luck doing it myself online.
  • Patagonia always sells out.  Whether it’s men’s, women’s, kids’–it’s gone because it never goes on sale.
  • The shoe section was so crazy at my store that I’d much rather deal with it online.  They were making people take a number for service!  But, if I’m being honest, the shoes during the sale rarely get me excited.  It’s usually a designer pair that gets me going because the discount is pretty good.  The Vince booties I shared were my favorite by far, because they’re reminiscent of a pair I own and love.  A good pair of Stuart Weitzman can usually get me going but I didn’t love the styles.  The shoes from the mid-range brands have some good styles here and there, but they’ll still be around at retailers during September and will probably be a part of some sort of Shopbop or Bloomingdales sale, too.
  • Other great stuff is on sale right now.  This used to be a sale that featured fall clothing in anticipation of back to school shopping.  I’ve noticed more items are ‘buy now, wear now’ and more season-less, which is cool.  Also, there’s tons of beauty included in this sale–it’s gotten vast, people.  But don’t forget that it’s July and Nordstrom (and other retailers) have tons of great spring/summer stuff on sale and I’ve actually been eyeing that stuff, too!  Hello, Reformation skirt…you are beautiful.

A few more solid items that I didn’t feature on my round up yesterday:

  • Keep an eye out for this Allsaints moto jacket; it’s gorgeous, a great price, feels like an IRO jacket at a fraction of the cost.  It’s largely sold out but I bet it’ll be back throughout the sale.
  • Frye boots are always worth it when they go on sale–and these are the classic, riding boots!
  • Any Avec Les Filles coat is a solid choice (the red one is in my roundup); I tried one on and it’s hefty and beautiful in person…feels like a Theory coat.
  • As I mentioned, beauty is stepping up in a big way.  This Sunday Riley kit and Oribe set,  is a great deal.
  • I liked this ASTR the Label coat WAY more in person.  It had a good weight and didn’t feel cheap at all! I couldn’t believe it was $96.
  • AG Farrah jeans – a recent favorite of mine, so snag them on sale!  It’s always a good time to find your favorite designer denim at a discount.

You can pass on:

…And thank you for coming to my TED talk.  I still stand by my roundup from yesterday so be sure to check that out.

Madewell top, AG Farrah jeans
Allsaints jacket, Frame silk cami (GORGEOUS and in my cart but look for less is here), Frame jeans
Topshop blazer, Frame cami (look for less here), Frame jeans
Allsaints jacket, Chelsea28 skirt, (sold out but I’d rather get this Reformation skirt), Frame cami
ASTR the Label coat, Vince sweater (not worth it–spend $39 on this Topshop one instead), Frame jeans

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15 comments

  1. Thank you for your thoughts on the sale items! I am glad you provided some historical perspective on brands that aren’t in the sale. Your picks are flawless. I am a proud owner of your first run of One Third tweed jackets btw. I love it and it’s a great third here in over air conditioned Texas.

  2. I’ve read a lot of blogger Anniversary sale roundups and yours is by far the most honest and refreshing! Thank you and I love your picks!

    • Thank you, Erin! Longtime fan of the sale and there’s still some good stuff in there but largely, it seems to be a lot of the same. Maybe next year!

  3. I was relatively unimpressed this year! I also noticed the lack of sweaters, lack of participating brands (in men’s and women’s) and honestly, kind of boring shoe picks. I have NEVER walked out of the store with nothing at the Anniversary Sale and I did this year!

    • The shoes are so meh. I swear, the sale used to have amazing shoes. I do think the Vince booties are gorgeous but for the most part, they’re the same shoes they’ve been pushing for the past three years!

  4. This year was definitely not as good as past years and you’re so right about the sweaters and even the shoes were majorly lacking imo. I always tell my friends the same, we’re in TX so by the time it’s actually cold it’ll all be less than the anni sale prices.. I did notice and thought odd it seemed they never even had that snakeskin skirt online. On ambassador day it was only in the black. I would think it would have shown a couple sizes left etc.. but could not find it whatsoever at the start of sale a day early.. anyways it’s all just clothes we really don’t need at end of day ha. Love your thoughts! And so sorry about your pup. 😌 Hope you guys are doing ok.

    • I thought that weird, too (about the skirt). It’ll be interesting to see how the results of this sale play out (as a former employee of a Nordstrom company, I own stock so I listen to the earnings calls 😉

  5. Annie Knapp says:

    Thanks so much for your insight, Anna! This year’s N sale seemed to me to be manipulative and ho-hum. An example of the worst aspects of consumerism. I used to love this sale, but not so interested after this year. Nordstrom seems mainly concerned with hyping a few good buys to bloggers, encouraging them to come in ahead of time and buy most of it out, then create a frenzy among their customers. I have better things to do next year, I think.

    • Completely agree that their strategy has changed here; I miss the good ol’ days! I do think there are some aspects of the sale that are worth it (especially snagging stuff like Patagonia kids on sale because it’s hard to find if you like that brand) and there are some solid investment purchases to be had. The frenzy is super overwhelming to me as a blogger (who follows a lot of bloggers) so I have wondered what it’s like for a non-blogger.

      I LOVE a good sale but a little perspective is needed here. We don’t need cold-weather clothes now and there will still be items to buy come October when it actually gets chilly 😉

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