How a Semi-Minimalist Shops the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

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Oh Lord, the temptation that is the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. It's 3 straight weeks of a horror show of style bloggers whispering in your ear *nordstrommmm anniversaryyy saleeee my precious*....*it's a one of a kinddd saleeee*. WE GET IT. So much money to save, but also so much money to spend. Which is really the ploy of sales, to make things seem like a deal and thus you can spend more. You may have saved $400 but you also spent $341. Which is where I come in. I've shopped this sale for a few years now, and I have made plenty of mistakes and spent thousands. Yes, thousands. I am duly shamed. I'll tell you the trick right now. Only buy what you need. That's all. But that's a lot easier said than done, so you might want to keep reading. The first thing to do is let yourself go wild. I mean spend hours digging through the hundreds of pages of items on sale. If you go through it all now, you won't feel like you missed out on anything later. At this point in time, you have no rules. You can add anything and everything you want to your cart/wishlist. Ignore your budget, if you have one. Just add it on in. This step is key, and I advise you to take full advantage of it. Why? Because you're only allowed to place one order. That's not per Nordstrom rules, that's per "Lauren is gonna kick your butt if you don't listen" rules. So, just go ahead and put everything in your cart and DO NOT CHECKOUT. When you go and look in your cart, if you're like me and put anything remotely interesting in there, it will be up in the thousands of dollars range.

Don't panic. We will get through this by the grace of our god, Nordy. If you haven't set a budget, now would be a good time to do it. What can you reasonably spend without being homeless next month? That may be $50, $230, $500, or no limit. If you have no limit, why are you reading this? Just kidding, you can totally have limitless (or almost limitless) money and still want to be a conscious consumer. Now, I have two notes about setting a budget.

Things to Remember

  • If your budget is low and you can only afford one or two things (say a total of under $100), then I am going to suggest what every single other blogger will not. Most will advise you to choose an investment piece, because "It's sooooo worth it. It'll last forever, we promise!" This may be true, but I know when you don't have the funds sometimes an investment piece is out of your reach. And more expensive doesn't always mean better. SO, my advice is to use that money to get one or two trendy pieces for the coming fall/winter season. It'll spice up your wardrobe, especially if you get a versatile piece you can style a few different ways. You'll spend a little money to make yourself feel good and add some interest to update your wardrobe, instead of that investment pair of black leggings that look just the same as the ones from Target. Your closet is a balance of investment/basic pieces and fun/trendy pieces. Don't get sucked into the idea that minimalism or low budget means you can't have fun.

  • If you're indecisive and like to order a bunch of stuff to try on at home, your budget needs to reflect that, if you can afford it. Meaning, you might place an order for $500 and only keep $200. Know these numbers going in if being the Return Queen is your style. This is definitely me, but your top-end budget needs to account for the fact that waiting to get your refund doesn't mean you can't eat for the next 90 processing days. If you can't afford to pay it this month, then you can't afford to return it next month.

Now what?

Okay, okay. You've got your budget and your cart is FULL. You've now probably spent at least a couple of hours absolutely entrenched in the Nordstrom site and you have shopping brain. Go take a break for at least 20 minutes. Do not open the Nordstrom site. Do not think about that cardigan. Do not watch Insta stories and start swiping up. When you come back, your brain should be fresh and the shopping high should start wearing off. This way, you can start brutally booting off clothing contestants from Cart Island. Taking just a short brain break helps me to come back with a clear view to be honest with myself. You need to be honest with what you already have in your closet and what you need. If you're the type of person who keeps a shopping list, check your cart against that. If none of the items are on your list, you might want to seriously reevaluate. We all keep a shopping list, whether it's a vague idea floating in our brain or written down, so take this step even if you don't "have one".

Take however much time you need to think this over if you don't plan on having a buffer budget to return items. If you do have a buffer, you can afford to be a little less careful, but no excuse to buy everything. It is a fact of life that some of what you will want will go out of stock by the time you're ready to checkout. I'm sorry, but I have saved you money. Here are four things to help you feel better:

  1. You're saving money and you don't have to decide whether you want to get it or not. Nordy decided for you.

  2. Majority of items will be restocked after the sale is over. You might pay a little more, but by that time there will likely also be reviews to help you make an informed decision.

  3. You could get it for an even lower price at the end of the season sale. Suck on that, Nordy.

  4. It just wasn't meant to be.

You've done all your steps, and you've cried when you saw those Spanx leggings are out of stock yet again. Now you can checkout. But remember, you better be dang sure of what you're getting, because you can only place one order.

If you don't love me now, your wallet will later. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is not the be-all, end-all. It will be back next year, and I hope you return to this post to save yourself some trouble. If you scrolled to the end, I'll recap for you, but you're missing out on the true breadth of my shopping wisdom. Pick out all the things, set a budget, get rid of most of the things, cry, place your order and be happy you can look cute and pay your rent. And if you happen to be curious about what I'll be picking up at the sale, my Nordstrom Anniversary Sale picks are below.

My Nordstrom Anniversary Picks