My NAS Shopping Strategy, 2018

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is perfectly timed for me because I like to shop early in the retail season. I can secure the best items in my size, my style feels refreshed when the weather changes, and I can forget about shopping for a while. I’m usually done with Spring and Summer shopping by about May, and ready to think about my Autumn and Winter style in the first week of July.

I practice organized emotional shopping. I’m a very emotional shopper who listens to her heart and feelings on every leg of her style journey, but I temper my emotions so that my purchases are sufficiently practical, cost-effective, and sensible choices. For example, I make a change when I’m no longer feeling a silhouette, colour, trend or outfit combination, but continue with a look despite changing trends if it makes me feel fab. I don’t shop for an imaginary lifestyle or climate, and have zero tolerance for uncomfortable shoes and scratchy fabrics.

The Emotion

I like to evolve my style every season to keep things fresh and prevent outfit boredom. That’s why I’m looking for something different when I shop the NAS, unless I need to replenish wardrobe essentials.

I don’t go into the NAS knowing exactly how I want to evolve my style. I enjoy this uncertainty, and I trust that my emotions will help me solve the puzzle as I select and assess items in the NAS dressing room. Apart from shopping with hubby Greg for my birthday, the NAS is my most enjoyable shopping experience of the year because the element of surprise is an adrenaline rush and it’s so very satisfying to step outside my comfort zone and find a winning item.

The day before NAS preselections, and completely by chance, I looked through Boden’s early Fall 2018 collection because I like their commitment to colour and quality. I saw toffee combined with light blue, navy and tomato red, and thought YES, I’m feeling that colour combination (see collection). Then and there I decided that I’m going with earth tones, all sorts of blues, and my usual sour brights to refresh my palette for the season. This set the mood for this year’s NAS shop and I was psyched. Earthy Urban Polish felt dead right.

Farleigh Coat
View Info
Top Pick
Logan Sweater
View Info
Top Pick
Muriel Sweater
View Info
Top Pick
Logan Sweater
View Info
Top Pick
Farleigh Coat
View Info
Top Pick

The Organization

I edit and review my closet monthly, so I know what I own, how it fits, and how I currently feel about it. This prevents me from duplicating items when I shop, and gives me an accurate mental picture of the types of outfits I was wearing last Autumn and Winter. It provides the frame of reference for the items that I bring into the NAS dressing room, and is a starting point for how I evolve my style.

I also keep a running list in my head of wardrobe holes, items that need replenishing, the factors that affect my style, my budget, and my 2018 style goals. This is the “organization” that tempers my emotions when I shop.

I’ve also found it useful to keep a list in my head of what I do NOT want to buy at the sale:

  • No grey because it does not make me happy.
  • No purple or lilac because I’m not feeling the colours for my own style (yet!)
  • No more olive and burgundy because I bought up a storm last year.
  • No more jeans unless they’re extremely different to what’s hanging in my closet.
  • No dressy Winter blouses because I don’t wear them.
  • No cold-weather tops that can’t be layered.
  • No oversized slouch because I crave structure.
  • No sheath dresses because I prefer dresses with movement.
  • No dresses and skirts above the knee because I’m done with that length.
  • No heels over an inch and half, and preferably lower.

Black is allowed, but must be purchased with caution and in very specific wardrobe pieces.

The Process

With all this in mind I began focussed NAS browsing at the Flagship Nordstrom in downtown Seattle. You can see what I brought into the dressing room in this forum thread. Skirts, dresses, pants, jeans, a coat, jackets, pullovers, tops, scarves and footwear.

A few more points:

  • I include higher price points at the NAS, which eats into my budget faster than lower price points. I therefore come home with fewer items.
  • I don’t shop for wardrobe basics like undies, hosiery, socks, loungewear, yoga wear and sleepwear at this sale.
  • I want to continue wearing skirts, dresses and pants in the colder months and wear jeans less frequently.
  • I continue to prioritize footwear because I need to replace a number of shoes. (I passed on another seven pairs of shoes this year due to discomfort and wear).
  • I’m always on the lookout for interesting and warm knitwear, toppers and boots because that’s what I live in from October to April.

I saw the Maggy London Ruched Waist Midi Dress in the NAS catalogue and loved it, so that was the FIRST thing I tried on at the NAS. Slam dunk perfect if you like florals, enjoy sleeves, wear black patterns, adore midis, and like to define your waist. The fit is sublime. It’s crease-resistant, will wear like iron, and I can wear it through Autumn and Winter. I LOVE this dress.

With my style goals top of mind, the next items I tracked down were midi skirts that were not pencil in silhouette, all sorts of pants, and a few pairs of full-length faded jeans. I fell in love with 3.1 Phillip Lim’s Print Asymmetrical Ruffle Skirt because I didn’t have anything like it, it’s a cold-weather weight, gorgeously romantic, and BLUE (not black). I could wear it with a few fitted black turtlenecks I had at home to prevent dreaded orphan-skirt syndrome, but opted to add Topshop’s Popper Crew Sweater in black to wear with the skirt after I saw it on a client with a similar body type later in the week. A fun high-low juxtaposition of brands, and beautifully structured with movement in the right places.

I tried on all sorts of pullovers, pants, coats and jackets, but nothing pulled at my heartstrings enough to earn a place in my wardrobe, until I tried on J.Crew’s Ruffle Sleeve Tee in green. I don’t usually purchase Summer items at the NAS — and very rarely buy knitted tops — but since I spend a lot more time in Salt Lake City these days where the Summers are long and hot it will get a lot of wear. It’s Boden quality, I adore the green, and I don’t have anything like it. Fab with my white jeans, blue gingham pants, and an acid wash denim midi skirt.

Next stop was footwear, and that’s where I went to town because it’s a shopping priority, and the assortment was excellent this year. I wanted to refresh my style with shoes in shades of brown, cognac and cream to match the colour palette I saw in the Boden catalogue. I found lots of options, and eventually chose four pairs that suit my walking lifestyle. The Dolce Vita Tommi Perforated Bootie in toffee because I don’t have perforated booties. The Pikolino Pyrgos Oxford in cognac because I don’t have flat Autumn oxfords. The Born Cardi bootie in chocolate because I need casual high-shaft booties to wear with cropped jeans. They all fit perfectly on my low-volume feet, narrow ankles, and are super comfy. I was a little worried about the masculinity of the oxfords, but the cream soles pull them back into “pretty and crisp” territory. Greg assured me that they look fab, which helped.

My ‘80s gene went into overdrive when I saw Rebecca Minkoff’s Koso Bootie in white. My heart skipped a beat and I had to try them on. They fit well with an insole and are reasonably comfortable. Not as comfy as the other three pairs, but fine for a trendy shoe that I won’t do a lot of walking in. Sold. That’s my trendy purchase of the sale.

I tried to make Franco Sarto’s Topaz flat work because I loved the way they looked and adore the colour. They were wide, but I purchased them anyway because I’d hoped to doctor them with insoles at home. No luck, and returned them a few days later.

I then headed to the accessory department to find a belt and scarf to complement my new toffee, cognac and chocolate footwear. I didn’t find a suitable belt, but I found a gorgeous two-toned Halogen cashmere wrap that I will wear as a scarf. Perfect.

This round of my NAS shopping came to an abrupt end because a client was waiting for me at concierge. I hoped to make it back to dresses, but as luck would have it a client suggested that I try 1901’s Midi Shirtdress that we found for her. She was dead right that it worked for me too and the navy followed me home. Classic, Modern Retro, covered, structured, crisp, and very comfortable. I wore it to a belated birthday celebration last week with flat lemon mules and new cream birthday Furla. I also wore it to work the next day with white flats and satchel. It was very fun to wear a NAS item right away, and twice in one week. I LOVE this dress, and might get another colour.

When I had a little time to spare at home this week, I re-tried all my NAS items to make sure that I was happy with how they fit and looked. To ensure that the quality was up to scratch, that they worked on this leg of my style journey, and that there was no unnecessary duplication. I also made sure I stayed within my budget. Happy as a clam, I had a brilliant NAS, and am committed to these ten items. I’m thrilled with my start to Fall & Winter 2018.

Your Favourite Styling Techniques

I’ve noticed that there are a few styling strategies that I use frequently in my outfits. The first three pander to my personal figure-flattering priorities which are to create outfit structure, shorten my neck, and lengthen the leg line. The last panders to my need to create polish and look visually pulled together. 

1. Chunky Pearl Necklace Fills the Gap

I have a long neck that looks even longer because of my narrow shoulder line and pixie haircut. I effectively shorten my neck and broaden my shoulders by wearing close-fitting, narrow, and high necklines because the coverage is visually shortening on the neck and lengthening on the shoulder. Sometimes though, crew necks and boat necklines are still too wide and I need more coverage. My pearl necklaces add coverage by filling the gap, and do the shortening trick. Bonus that they add a dressy integrity to my outfit.

2. Scrunch Long Sleeves

Showcasing skin adds structure to an outfit because it reveals the natural contour of the body. When I scrunch long sleeves to showcase my forearms, I add structure to my look, which makes proportions work better on my slight frame.

3. Semi-Tuck or Tuck Tops

I wear flats 99% of the time. I don’t want to feel dumpy, overly long in the torso, or flat-footed, so I lengthen the leg line from the hips upward by semi-tucking or fully tucking a top. This brings up the position of the hem of the top, thereby shortening the torso and lengthening my leg line. Hinting at or fully defining the waist adds structure to the outfit too.

4. Sport a Complement

I will often add a complement of footwear and accessories to my outfit to pull it together. In other words, I’ll match my bags to my shoes, or match my shoes to my belt. I can also match my bag to a scarf, or my scarf to a belt. I’ve also matched bag, belt, scarf and shoes for maximal good measure.

GIANVITO ROSSI Leather Loafers

NICHOLAS KIRKWOOD Beya Metallic Textured-leather Point-toe Flats

Wearing a tailored topper over a fluid or flowing untucked top is one favourite styling technique among my clients. The untucked fluid top camouflages muffin top, while the tailored topper tempers the volume and adds structure. Keeping a jacket or blazer open in front is another favourite. It creates a line down the centre front of the body which accentuates the vertical integrity of the outfit. Another is to add heels to an outfit to lengthen the leg line.

Over to you. What are your favourite outfit styling techniques and why? Are they similar or the opposite of mine?

Two Pressing Fab Finds

And now for something that isn’t style, but is somewhat style related. I don’t enjoy ironing, but I do it because I like the polished appearance of well-pressed clothing. I will absolutely re-iron an item before wearing it so that it looks perfect. We recently had to get a new iron and ironing board and I’m very happy with the choices we made. 

An extremely good iron and ironing board make the world of difference and, dare I say it, can make ironing a more enjoyable chore.


Summer Shoes and Dresses

A few dresses and tops, some shorts, and lots of comfy sandals make this week’s top picks list.

Read More

Assorted Summer Items

Some dresses, shoes and pyjamas on this week's list of top picks.

Read More

Summer Items

A collection of my top picks in sandals, dresses and tops across a range of sizes.

Read More

Assorted Items

A list of top picks that were winners on my clients recently.

Read More

Assorted Items

An assortment of top picks from dresses and jeans, to tops and handbags.

Read More

Tops & Toppers

An assortment of Spring items across a range of sizes and price points.

Read More

Wardrobe Workhorses

A wardrobe workhorse is an item of clothing, pair of shoes, or accessory that gets a LOT of wear. Workhorses can be simple and subtle, or bold statement pieces. They can be printed, solid, any colour, any fabric, old or new, classic or avant-garde or vintage, retro or trendy, pricey or inexpensive. 

Wardrobe workhorses can be predicable items, or catch you by surprise. They can even be spontaneous wild cards. Items can be workhorses one season but orphans the next, and vice versa. We can carefully consider a potential wardrobe workhorse before purchasing it, but despite our efforts it malfunctions when it’s put through its paces. Workhorses can wear out faster than other items because they work extremely hard. Sometimes they are easy to replace, and sometimes not.

An item that becomes a wardrobe workhouse normally falls into one or more of these categories.

1. Basics

Wardrobe basics like knickers, bras, camisoles, sleepwear, socks, hosiery, workout wear and loungewear become workhorses because we wear them daily. Of course, everyone’s list of basics is different. Some basics are seasonal, and some people don’t wear sleepwear, loungewear or work out.

2. Essentials

Wardrobe essentials become wardrobe workhorses because they are the “glue” that makes other items in your wardrobe work together to create complete and cohesive outfits. Their versatility and simple design makes them easy to wear and incorporate into all sorts of looks, hence you frequently reach for them.

3. Eyewear

Improved eyesight with prescription specs or sunnies makes them an indispensable accessory and therefore wardrobe workhorses. I wear my eyewear daily, making it one of my most important style accessories.

4. Confidence-Boosting Items

Certain items in your wardrobe create instant confidence, and so you wear them often. It could be the way they fit or showcase the favourite parts of your body. It might be the way they conceal an area of your body, or how they add a crisp, streamlined and professional integrity to your outfit. Or it could be a sentimental item that makes you feel comforted and supported in some way.

5. Practical & Comfortable Items

We tend to crave physical comfort and items that do their job. Items made of cosy fabric can become workhorses, as can deliciously comfortable shoes. Waterproof and snow-proof attire can become workhorses because they protect us from the elements. We can frequently reach for breezy Summer tops and dresses because they are machine washable, breathable and don’t need ironing.

6. Items in Happy Colours

If your mood is lifted by wearing a specific colour, it might be the reason you reach for that item more than others. My own citron, white, ink blue and tomato red items lift my spirits, which is why items in those colours have a good chance of becoming a wardrobe workhorse.

7. Items that Refresh Your Style

A new-to-you item that adds just the right refreshed, evolved and updated touch to your outfits can become an instant wardrobe workhorse. It might be a trendy pair of mules or slides, a pair of wide crops, a new denim jacket, dangly earrings, a cropped top, a midi skirt, high-rise jeans, a straw bag, a gingham blouse, or a pair of utility pants.

8. Items that Form Part of Your Signature Style

Often items that form part of your signature style become wardrobe workhorses. My own chunky white pearl necklaces are a wardrobe essential and part of my signature style, and they work very hard. So do all my white pairs of flats.

Smaller wardrobes tend to have a large percentage of workhorses, because there are fewer items to choose from when selecting an outfit. Larger wardrobes tend to have a smaller percentage of workhorses because there are many items that compete for daily wear.

What are the workhorses in your wardrobe?

Sneak Peek: Top 24 Items at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

I’ve been working long hours with clients preselecting items for this year’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. It has been brilliant. Nordstrom has offered extended sizes across both sides of the spectrum, which I applaud. You’ll find many more items in larger sizes, as well as size US0, petite and XXS. 

The strength of this year’s sale was in footwear, and that’s where I personally put the lion’s share of my NAS budget. The coat and knitwear assortment was disappointing, but the jacket selection was fabulous. Here’s a sneak peek of my top 24 items of this year’s sale:

Here’s the collection page if you would like to see the items alongside my descriptions.

The sale officially opens to the public on July 20 and prices go back up on August 5. My detailed lists of many, many more top picks goes out on midnight on Friday morning as usual. Don’t worry if your size is out of stock because sizes frequently come back into stock with customer returns and the restocking of items. Good hunting.