Every July, Nordstrom fans everywhere lose their minds a little bit when the Anniversary Sale comes around. What they (we? I guess it’s a we) love about it is that it’s not a sale on last season’s stuff heading out the door, but a sale on the upcoming season’s merchandise just as it’s arriving in the store. For trend-lovers, this is awesome, a chance to get to-be-coveted items hot off the sewing machine. For sale-lovers, this is also awesome, because often a sale means you’re buying something the store is trying to get rid of, not their newest arrivals. For frugal people, the sale is…OK.
I’ve gotten excited about the Anniversary Sale the past two years since I bought my first bras there, became a believer, and got the Nordstrom debit card – but I have yet to actually buy anything during the sale. I enjoy reading through bloggers’ rundowns of their favorite sale finds, particularly The Mom Edit. But the problem is, they’re picking out the BEST stuff to buy at this sale, and (no surprise here) the BEST stuff is almost never the MOST AFFORDABLE stuff. Case in point, only a third of the items on Shana’s 15 must-haves list are under $100. And that’s counting one sweater for $99.90 and a pair of heinous Steve Madden boots that have no business being on anybody’s list (sorry Shana, much love!). I expanded my search and found a handful of posts (here and here) on more budget-friendly finds in the sale, but I still wasn’t getting what I wanted. I decided to do my own edit with a focus on women’s clothing for the frugal, low-key lady.
And so began my search for things you can score at the #NSale for under $40. This is a tough task, because it’s not just finding something priced under $40, it’s finding something priced under $40 that is actually a good deal. Why under $40? The main reason is that I found that when I got between $40-50, it started getting very easy to trick myself into thinking things were bargains. You see lots of affordable Halogen and Caslon pieces popping up and everything starts looking good. Use your judgment. For all #NSale items, don’t get caught up in the excitement just because you can afford it. Try to focus on whether or not you need it, how much wear you’ll get out of it, if it looks like it’s well-made enough (and not TOO trendy) to last through a couple seasons, and if you would normally spend that much money in your normal shopping habits. In other words, if you wouldn’t normally spend $20 on a tank top, don’t do it now just because you want to buy something in the Nordstrom sale.
I browsed through all 528 women’s clothing items under $40 (no shoes or bags, only clothing). Disclaimers are at the bottom of the page, none of which are disclosures of payments or goods for these reviews; ho-ho sweet child, I do not make anything off this blog.
If any links become unavailable, or any items are sold out, check back. Nordstrom refreshes most items during the sale period! I believe we’re also still in the preview sale for credit and debit card holders (I’d recommend the latter to avoid more credit, unless you are a heavy Nordstrom shopper – in which case you might call it Nordie’s). The sale is open to everyone 7/21.
Women’s Clothing Finds under $40
Scroll down for links and descriptions!
- This Love, Fire hoodie dress in gray for $25.90 looks like a great outfit for running errands comfortably. If you’re a denim or leather jacket person, those would look great thrown over this!! I have neither: sad face.
- I love the unique vibe of this Topshop hook front tee, and it’s a good deal in terms of % off the regular price.
- The pretty prints rescue this Lush back tie blouson dress at $29.90, otherwise I would say this is too much for a basic knit dress. I have this dress in a maxi and have gotten good mileage out of it, without noticeable wear.
- I like these BP seamed moto leggings in burgundy. For $25.90 I’m getting squeamish for glorified tights, but the seam detail makes them feel more special than “just leggings”. These Nordstrom moto washed cotton blend leggings come in a similar color for $29.90.
- This BP tie front blouse in blush or blue stripe is an interesting office piece; pair it with a pencil skirt, skinny pants or jeans (slim on bottom to balance out that big tie), $31.90 is reasonable because it’s offbeat. (PURCHASED)
- Update: I bought this in pink medium. I have a large chest so while a size down maybe would feel a little less boxy/blouse-y, since it’s a crisp cotton I think I would have felt restricted by the lack of stretch. My bigger issue is that the fabric is not opaque. Usually I look pretty closely at the model photos and sometimes you can see the pants line through a shirt, but in this case they definitely touched up the photos. I could see the shadow of my nude bra through the shirt, as well as my dark skirt underneath. I’ll try it again with a nude camisole which should do the trick, but I have to make sure that won’t stick out from the bottom of the shirt and ruin the look. Order in blue to avoid this, I just didn’t feel the blue pinstripe would go with as many pieces in my wardrobe. I can also see this looking beautiful freshly ironed, but always a risk for being a wrinkly nightmare. If you don’t like ironing or steaming, this might not be for you. I would only recommend buying this at the sale price, not worth it at full price.
- Unlike it’s chunkier knit cousin on my “lukewarm” list below, this lightweight BP cardigan comes in more colors and is very well-reviewed. For $31.90 and what looks like a fabric less likely than others to pill, I think you could get a lot of wear out of this. (PURCHASED)
- Update: I bought this in gray in a medium (I’m 5’9″ 155 with a large chest and I like things comfy and layer-able, so I didn’t follow the instructions to order a size down). I’m happy with the fit, the sleeves are nice and long/slouchy, and it’s very soft. I don’t think it’ll be a pill problem, but it will be a PULL problem. I saw one small pull already and I got dangerously close to velcro which terrified me. Be careful with this sweater especially you have kids (half of my toddler’s things involve velcro), and keep this article handy. I still think it’s a good buy for this price because good long cardigans are hard to find.
- I actually really like this Leith take on the bell sleeve for $38.90 – it’s more subtle because the bells drape more than they poof. I mostly love the standout “olive tawny” color (I would call it mustard) because I don’t see it anywhere else in the search results. Gray would be my second choice – no oatmealy tan for me!
- This Caslon knit blazer is a much, much, much, much, much more affordable version of this $243 (on sale, yikes!) sweatshirt jacket that The Mom Edit drools over. For $39.90 in 6 colors, I think this is a versatile piece that could be dressed up or down. I was going to buy it when I thought it came in gray. Then I realized it’s called “black-white pattern” and didn’t have the gather detail on the back. I then experienced color choice paralysis and ended up worrying that I wouldn’t wear it enough, so out of the cart it went!
- [not pictured] My lowest-cost item: almost the whole first page of results was socks and underwear, save one pair of black BP leggings on sale for $11.90 instead of $19. They seem well-reviewed, so this makes them a decent purchase.
- [not pictured] I like the one pair of Hue leggings I own, and these ribbed leggings offer something a little different. At $21.90 they’re pushing the boundaries of what I’d consider reasonable for leggings. However, I’ve seen my ghostly white knees straining against the fabric enough times that I will no longer think I can get away with $5 leggings from Forever 21.
- This Caslon rounded neck tee has an interesting neckline and comes in 16 colors, but at $17.90 it’s 2-3 times more than I’d like to spend. You could rationalize this one by remembering the normal price is $25.
- In a similar vein, this relaxed BP long sleeve is a dollar more, comes in 6 colors, and may be more useful for the fall.
- This Halogen sleeveless turtleneck (you can call it “funnel neck” all you want, I’m onto you, Nordstrom) would be a solid work shirt worn under a cardigan or suit jacket. It comes in some nice rich colors and is reasonable at $19.90.
- This BP ruffle tee is interesting for $22.90, but I don’t like tees that can’t be layered under a cardigan without looking like a hunch back.
- I initially paused on this BP over-sized sweater for $24.90, but I don’t love the color options, and it might be something I could copycat by scouring Goodwill.
- This $24.90 BP (notice the trend? BP is their entry-level brand) v-neck is slouchy and there are 6 colors, but the rib reminds me of ill-fitting sweaters from high school and gives me the bad kind of flashback.
- This Caslon bell sleeve tee for $25.90 could be a good pooch-hider, OR it could hit just so and make you look bigger, I can’t tell.
- You might instead like this BP split sleeve tee for $27.90 that doesn’t bell out at the belly, just a bit at the arms.
- I think this Topshop balloon sleeve tee for $29.90 is a smart sale buy because it’s a standout piece (but that also makes it not for everyone).
- Similarly, this Topshop one-shoulder shirt for $31.90 could get some mileage for you on date nights or club nights. I’m happily married, don’t like going to clubs anymore, and can’t wear strapless bras, so this fails for me for a number of reasons – but I still like the look!!
- I like this Socialite gathered sleeve sweatshirt dress for the interesting sleeve detail (and pockets!), and $31.90 isn’t bad, but I don’t know that I’d like it on me.
- I like the comfy look of the BP rib knit cardigan at $31.90, but I don’t love the colors.
- Not my personal fave, but the sleeve detail on this BP sweater makes it a justifiable spend for an otherwise simple sweater ($31.90).
- People freaking love Zella leggings – there are some under $40, take a look if you’re a legging fanatic.
- Halogen’s pleat front top has twee buttons (it’s a word and it’s the PERFECT word to describe these buttons, dammit) down the back, but once you cover those up with a cardigan or blazer, is it just a boring-ish shirt? For $39.90 I’m not willing to find out.
- This Hinge tie front pullover at $45.90 is hitting a lot of the blog roundups, but it’s just above our $40 mark and only comes in one color. Check out this similar (but not as sleek) Caslon in 3 colors for $29.90, or this drape-ier-looking Gibson fleece in 6 colors for $39.90. I’m not sold on spending this much on a sweatshirt but they’re cute!
- Bombers were in last year, meaning if you are not a fashion maven (probably 95% of us) then you can still feel trendy wearing one for the next one or two years. This BP floral embroidered bomber is not really my taste, but it’s definitely a standout, and only $38.90.
- There were several ho-hum t-shirts, but I prefer to shop at Goodwill, H&M or Old Navy if I’m looking for a certain color plain tee. I don’t like to spend more than $10 max on a plain tee, really more like $5 though.
- There were lots of camis mixed in, but I think Ross/Marshalls/TJMaxx and Nordstrom Rack are better for those, or even JC Penney (when they send out that $10 off of $10 – free tank tops!). Anyway, I wouldn’t spend $20 on a tank. There aren’t enough scallops in the world (except maybe actual scallops) to make this cute Halogen scalloped tank worth $30.
- This BP “deconstructed” sweater for $24.90? $5 sweater at Goodwill and scissors – done.
- This Soprano cross front miniskirt at $25.90 seems like a good deal, but really there’s nothing special to it. Don’t get hooked by the low price tag, this is a pass.
- Same with this Lush Roll Tab woven shirt, looks like a cleavage nightmare for me, and I don’t much want to ruin the look with a modesty tank underneath.
- Don’t be fooled by this Treasure & Bond gathered pleat front tee for $29.90 – the price is too high for a tee, and if you look closely you’ll see it’s see-through.
- I started seeing lots of sweatshirts around the $30 mark (too expensive) and several knit dresses that I imagine would be too thin/clingy or would pill quickly ($30 is too much for something you could get at Ross for $15).
- So. many. cold. shoulders. I’m sorry if you’re into this trend because I am not. But go search for yourself and you’ll have no trouble spotting these looks, because of the, you know, shoulders.
- I saw nearly a dozen velvet pieces which is more velvet than I want to see in 2017.
- Bobeau’s $31.90 long cardigan comes in 5 colors, and it’s hard to find a cardigan this length at a thrift store, but then I saw the poor reviews about how tight the sleeves are and how quickly it pills. Pass!
- Rompers – there are several – nope.
- If you have marginal sewing skills, you could grab comparable flannel at Goodwill for far less than $31.90 price tag on this BP plaid shirt.
- Are we doing stirrup pants, Hue? Are we?
- This Pleione $31.90 blouse has a shape I like, but it feels like anything you could find on every clearance rack everywhere.
- Once you get over $38.90 you’ll start seeing jeans come into the picture. I prefer buying my jeans at Goodwill (hello Paige for $6 a few weeks ago!), but that’s because I know how to turn any jeans into skinnies and/or destroy my denim.
- I guess we are doing stirrups. Et tu, Leith?
So that’s the end of the line, I hope you found value in my research. I think I had the most fun identifying things that I WOULDN’T recommend. What were your favorite budget finds at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?
My lists mostly focus on tops, because there are very few bottoms under $40. Between $40 and $50 you’ll start to see way more pants options, but by that time they all just blend together. Pants are much more personal in terms of picking the right rise, the right length, the right material, and jeans can just start to all look the same. Anyway, you’re on your own with pants, except for a few leggings I call out!
I am not a plus-size expert. There seem to be decent options under $40, but I don’t want to assume that JUST BECAUSE there are plus-size listings under $50 that they’re automatically good.