The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, also known in the social media world as the #NSale, is considered to be the holy grail of shopping for deals and steals. I’m not entirely convinced it is the products themselves that make this July sale the not-to-be-missed event as much as it’s the marketing of it that makes it so. There is so much hype along with smart marketing and planning by Nordstrom to create this FOMO shopping experience.
Not only does the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale benefit the customer with generous discounts on up-and-coming merchandise, but this sale also benefits Nordstrom. It’s completely unheard of to put new merchandise out on the floor at a discount, however, what this strategy allows for is Nordstrom to test-drive future purchases and figure out which items to stock up on. Sales are more often used to gut stores of old merchandise during seasonal changes and given how dry shopping can be in the month of July, the Nordstrom anniversary sale creates buzz and traffic during a time when people are more focused on vacations than clothes.
Another thing I was incredibly curious about was the roots of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. It’s actually quite fascinating. As you probably know, Nordstrom started simply as a shoe store in 1901. In 1925, Bostonian, Dorothy Cabot Best opened Best’s Apparel and stocked the store with finds from the East Coast and made her quite the tastemaker in Seattle.
When Dorothy Best died in 1958, knowing he couldn’t carry on his wife’s legacy, her husband, Ivan, looked to Nordstrom to absorb Best’s and in 1963, they did. This is where it gets interesting. In 1955, prior to Dorothy Best’s death, the store went all out for the 30th anniversary, finding merchandise all over the world and sold it at incredibly low sale prices for their anniversary. This essentially means that the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale really has nothing to do with Nordstrom and had the acquisition of Best’s not happened, none of us would be preparing ourselves for a month of serious shopping.
When You Can Shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale
We all can’t shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale at the same time, another thing that the store does to create buzz. This is the breakdown.
What does this all mean?
Being part of The Nordy Club and how much you spend indicates when you are able to start shopping the sale. You receive points for every dollar you spend. Think of it like hotel or airline loyalty programs. The breakdown is as follows:
Member ($0–$500 spend per year)
- First to shop select brands
- Access to beauty and style workshops
- Curbside pickup
- First to shop the ‘Clear the Rack’ sale
- Free basic alterations
Insider ($500–$1,999 spend per year or Nordstrom cardholder)
All of the member benefits, plus:
- One personal Double Points Day to use when you wish
- Early access to Anniversary Sale (for cardholders)
- $100 annual alterations credit (for cardholders)
Influencer ($2,000–$4,999 spend per year)
All of the member and insider benefits, plus:
- Priority access to style events
- Two personal Double Points Days
- $200 annual alterations credit (for cardholders)
Ambassador ($5,000+ spend per year)
All of the member, insider, and influencer benefits, plus:
- Access to invite-only events
- Nordstrom to You (in-home stylist)
- Three personal Double Points Days
- $300 annual alterations credit (for cardholders)
NORDSTROM ANNIVERSARY SALE PICKS, PLUS TIPS AND TRICKS FOR SHOPPING WISELY
No matter when you get the green light to start shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, you are free to preview it at any time, start setting aside picks, and making your plan. To help you out, along with my selections from the sale, I am giving you some shopping tips and tricks so you can shop wisely and responsibly.
Blazers & Outerwear
Tip #1- Shop with a Plan
Two weeks ago, I shared a post about the two biggest mistakes I see clients make. One of those mistakes is shopping with absolutely no strategy. Remember, what sets the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale apart from most store sales is that the items are primarily things for the upcoming season, not this season’s leftovers that they are begging you to take off their hands. Going through your fall clothes before you hit the sale is smart. There are likely things that need to be replaced and classifications that need to be refreshed. Get a list together before you hit the “add to cart” button.
Dresses & Jumpsuits
Tip #2: USE THE COST-PER-WEAR-EQUATION TO AVOID IMPULSE BUYS
If you’re not familiar with the cost-per-wear equation, it is a simple math formula you can use to calculate the value of an item you want to purchase. This formula is particularly helpful with investment buys where the cost up front is a lot. Take the cost of a pair of tailored pants for $300, for example. That might be a lot of money. However, if the pants are basic enough, and you see yourself wearing them at least once a week for a year, the cost-per-wear of those pants is just $5.76. That number is much more palatable.
Yet, to get the full concept of this approach, try using the cost-per-wear formula on sale items where the prices are too good to be true. Let’s say you buy a shirt that was $89 and now costs $25 on sale. Wow, that’s more than a 50% discount! You can’t beat it, right? Well, not so fast. You buy the shirt simply because the price was amazing and you wind up wearing it twice before it dies a slow death in the back of your closet. Take $25 and divide that shirt by two, for those two times you actually wore it. The shirt cost you $12.50 per wear. Sure the price tag might say it’s a great value but if it is of no use to you if you don’t wear it. Those $300 pants are a much better value.
Tip #3: DON’T SPLIT YOUR WEARS
Splitting your wears is a concept I came up with through my client work and it’s one I have explained in this blog before. Basically, splitting your wears means to have multiples in your closet that serve the same function and, therefore, the use for an item like this gets spread over multiple pieces which diminish the value of each one. The less you have for each function you need the more use each piece in your closet will get.
I will use this analogy I came up with this morning while walking in my neighborhood to further explain. As I was walking by a building under construction I laughed to myself wondering if we were going to get, yet another, nail salon in the neighborhood. It seems like daily a new one pops us. Given the fact that where I live you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one of these places, if you were to open a business in my neighborhood would you really want to open another one? Not if you want to be successful. With a salon on just about every street corner the customer base is way too thin to really get any return on your business venture, just like adding a fifth black blazer to your wardrobe just isn’t smart shopping sense. You’ll never get a return on your investment because you already own too many. This is what it means to split your wears. No matter how cheap it is, if you own too many of the same things the sale price will never be equal to the value for you.
TIP #4- DON’T WISHFUL WARDROBE
Wishful Wardrobing is a term I use to describe when a person buys clothes for the life they wish they had, not the one they actually do. How many times have you practically salivated over the perfect pair of 4″ pumps or spaghetti strap dress that you can’t wear with a bra? When this happens you have to take a few breaths. Finding something attractive, gorgeous or even a must-have isn’t enough for you to actually purchase it. You have to make sure you’ll wear it. Doing this does require a bit of tough love but, trust me, it will pay off. Because, really, what’s more depressing, not buying something or buying it and never wearing it?
And don’t make stuff up just to buy it. Look at your life realistically. Think that jumpsuit is super cute, but you have a toddler and to be able to pee quickly, sometimes with your baby on your hip in a public restroom? A jumpsuit is probably not for you. Live in NYC and walk to work most days? Four-inch heels are likely out of the question. Buying those expensive yoga pants for a class you still haven’t taken? You get the point. During sale times it is so easy to wishful wardrobe just to justify a purchase.
TIP #5- Add it All to Your Cart. Then Edit
Restriction often just makes us want more. It’s no different than going on a diet and the world suddenly looks like one giant chocolate glazed doughnut. If we can’t do something or feel restrained, psychologically, it becomes more appealing. So I am going to give you this tip: go crazy and add all the things you discover on sale to your shopping cart…or dressing room if you are shopping in the stores.
During sales, you need to give yourself permission to be like a kid in a candy store. If you go into it, instead, with a restrictive mindset everything you see during the sale is going to look amazing. Peruse the sale items on the website or at the store and add them all. If you like it, add it. I don’t care if you have 500 things in your shopping cart when you are done. Get it out of your system, go nuts, be free, feel the liberation.
Now, before you hit the checkout button it’s time to edit. You have let your inner child loose and now it is time to put your adult hat on. You obviously can’t buy it all, nor should you want to. When I shop with clients I always pull an entire clothing rack of selections for them to try on. On the first pass, we just separate the duds from the contenders. We don’t even acknowledge the price of the potentials yet. At this point, we’re just weeding out the losers. After we have our selections of possible buys, we cull through everything again and we continue culling, over and over, until we have a tight selection of what’s going home. Sometimes my clients have to bid farewell to great things, but using the shopping tips I shared above like wishful wardrobing and splitting wears we eventually get the selections down to a size that makes sense and works for their budgets.
My advice to you is to go into this sale with a set budget of what you want to spend. On your first pass, add everything you like to your cart or dressing room and then, after you have weeded out the duds, keep culling until you have the very best selections for your budget. Another tip is to find a place where you can lay all your selections out to consider. You can create a Pinterest board, for example, where you can pin all your first pass selections and see them laid out so you can take your time with the culling.
TIP #6- Don’t Start an Orphanage in Your Closet
All across this great country of ours, clothing has been abandoned. They’re alone, in need of support, and will likely perish, price tags still attached, if something isn’t done. Please don’t turn your closet into an orphanage that is filled with these stray cast-offs that you can’t wear because you have nothing to wear with them.
This goes back to my tip about shopping with a strategy. It’s important to run items you are considering through your mind to not only figure out what you will do with these pieces but what you will wear with them. Before you hit the sale, go through your closet and grab your orphans and figure out what you need to make them work. When shopping, figure out if the piece you are considering has a place in your closet or if you need to buy additional pieces to make this contender useful.
TIP #7- Assess Your Post-Pandemic Life
The world has changed and much of how we dressed prior to the pandemic has been lost. Normally, I suggest that you take a look at your wardrobe from the past year and assess what worked and what didn’t, but considering we lived such wacky lives last year, this exercise may not be as useful as it usually is.
Instead, take inventory of how your life may be changing. Will you be working from home more? Has your workplace dress code changed? The more clarity you can get the better.
TIP #8- WHAT NEEDS TO BE REPLACED?
There are some things I love so much that when they wear out I will purchase them again. It doesn’t have to be the exact same replacement, but something close. For example, once my cognac boots or navy blazer wear out I will most definitely be replacing them. Look at things you have worn for several years that might be showing some signs of wear and tear and consider using the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale to replace them.
Tip #9- ADD TO CART, WALK AWAY, COME BACK
Allow yourself to get excited about all the fabulous things on sale and even add all of it to your cart, even if it exceeds your budget and needs. Walk away with the cart full and come back at least an hour later to go through it again. Have your spending budget in mind, your plan with your needs and goals laid out, and use this information as your guide in helping you edit down your cart.
Tip #10- ORDER MULTIPLE SIZES
If you plan on shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale at the stores or online, grab multiple sizes to try on unless you know the product so well you know exactly what size you wear. Either drag extra into the dressing room or order several sizes and return. Rare is it that I don’t take several sizes into the dressing room for my clients.
Sure, sending back the rejects may be a pain in the butt when ordering online. But you know what is worse? Ordering one size, having it not fit, sending it back, and ordering a new size to test out. By that point, the size you need may be sold out.