Well, friends, this is one of the few style posts you’ll see from me. I won’t do many, and you’ll see why (insert laughing crying emoji here). But, this is the first time in over approximately two decades that I’ve had the opportunity to really a build a wardrobe for fall. I went ahead and took the plunge this summer thanks to Shana’s handy dandy How To Shop This Year’s Sale guide. I mean, I’m a boots and dresses girl, and I’d managed to make that work for me for the past decade or so, but this year was a little different. We had a real winter here in Philly this past year, which also meant we had a really short autumn.
But, let’s take a step back and see how we got here.
I’m a midwestern girl like S, Scotti, Tiarra and Jess. I grew up in Ohio, so I’m no stranger to cold weather. I was a layering queen in high school, so, much of the money I earned went to J. Crew Rollneck sweaters that I’d carefully pull over well-ironed button down shirts that I put over turtlenecks. However, moving to North Carolina, and then Dubai, and then Ho Chi Minh City….killed both my l need for fall clothes and my flair for layering. Not only that, but I had my fashionista friends help me clear out my closets each time I moved, and as much as I love Foxy Oxy and Aunt Fenella, they left me with very little pieces for staying warm.
Fast forward to landing in Philadelphia in the fall of 2014. I’d gotten a job that was about 80 percent remote, working from home. After paying for marriage counseling, a divorce, custody mediation, the return to the states and getting settled as single mom…you can bet I wasn’t much into splurging on clothes. That year was all about surviving and adapting to a country that was still foreign to me. I got enough cute couture for my weekly trips to New York and to keep myself warm, as well as a subscription to Le Tote (for a few months), and that has been pretty much been it for the past three years — other than an annual trip to Marshalls or Nordstrom Rack for a few pairs of tights and a smattering of sweaters and jeans. I mean, I still have clothes from college…I mean — if it ain’t broke…
But this year, I decided to say f- it. Y’all know editing these pages has tickled my spending gene anyways. At least, however, I am now more strategic in my splurging than I used to be, thank you. I’m the type of shopper who will splurge on a category, quickly, and then not think about it again for years — a la Annmarie’s magic refresh strategy for Home. I went ahead and became a Nordstrom cardholder in time for early access. So I’m perfectly fine throwing it all on the card, knowing that it’ll be a long time before I shop like this again — I mean I cannot even look at a Nordstrom webpage right now unless I have to. I followed Shana’s inspiration from her 12-hour dressing room selfie session, and decided that I would get some special long-lasting pieces, as well as some worthwhile standards, and avoid any extra thoughtless binges later at a big-box chain on the first cold day of the year, which might cost just as much, but be inferior in quality, lasting only a season.
I’m so grateful for the hard work this team puts into their fashion finds and advice — I mean, as someone who is so happy in boots, dresses and scarves — I’m looking forward to throwing on some jeans and sweaters and skirts and blazers that are exciting and well-thought out this year. It’s going to be fun, y’all. If you haven’t bought in yet, the 2018 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is a great way to build a wardrobe for winter and fall. And autumn is after all my favorite season; it might as well contain some of my favorite outfits.
I know there are many of you out there who just moved to a cooler climate or are rebuilding your wardrobe after adjusting to your postpartum body or are just trying to be conscious about creating a look you’re happy with for fall — because, after all, even when you’re rolling out of bed and just want to put on something cozy and warm, it’s so much easier when you actually love the options you have.
Before we get started, I have to give another big shout out to the TME team — dressing room selfies are no joke. It’s hot, it does a doozy on your hair, it takes HOURS, and the pressure of styling a piece so that it’s inspiration-worthy is intense (I may or may not have succeeded). So, in that spirit, I cranked up the A/C, pumped up the Beck, and made my first (and possibly last) attempt at #dressingroomselfies.
One final note: I have Goose try on her clothes the night before school. If she comes out dancing (she’ll usually start doing ‘the pickle’ a.k.a ‘the floss’), we know she’s committed to the get-up and won’t change her mind in the morning. You’ll Know I really like an outfit when I’m being silly, smiling REALLY big…or dancing like my Goose.
For Size Reference: I’m pretty petite at 5’2″, but also busty with somewhat of an athletic build; I’m most self-conscious about my tummy.
1. Snag Some Pretty Work Staples
The Anniversary Sale, and Nordstrom in general, is a great starting point for picking out fantastic pieces for work, conferences, meetings and such. Great day dresses are a staple for any woman who has to look professional at least of the time, and it’s nice to find some that I can feel pretty, professional and attractive in.
Dress – I like Tahari for interview-wear and other career must-haves because it offers quality items that, while we may not wear it daily, we may rely on for years. My initial instinct was to buy the black (I did, but it was too small), but I went for the Brick Red as well — it’s actually more of a plum/burgundy — and this is one I’m keeping. I didn’t like it with a blazer, and even though I thought the scarf was going to conflict with the sash, it didn’t, so that I prefer that if I think I’m going to be cold. This runs big, and I likely could have worn a 4 Petite had it been in stock.
Bold-patterned dress – This is the type of dress I would normally ignore on first glance. It’s brightly-colored, a bold print, not really me. BUT, if I look at it objectively, it’s a great work staple. It’s eye-catching, classy, and it will look great with a navy blazer (above) or with any brown boots or shoes this season (as well as black). Pumps or boots, this is a goodie. Also, the fit is extremely flattering: the diagonal rouching across the belly hides any bulges, and my bust doesn’t look disproportionally big. It’s TTS or size down.
Corduroy Blazer – This is that cool rust-colored blazer that both Shana and Julieta tried on in their dressing room selfies. I liked it so much I went ahead and bought in navy, and I’m so happy I did. It runs big, so size down.
Outfit: Dress ( 2 )
Midi Dress (this one runs big, so size down) – I have a feeling that the Sam Edelman dress will never translate in photos the way it does in person. It’s so flattering and so feminine and so classic. It’s one of my favorite surprises from the sale. I chose it the same way I chose the Eliza J — inclined to dismiss it at first glance, but knowing that it might look amazing on, and it does. It would be a fantastic dress for a Friday, when I might go for happy hour drinks after work or something. While it’s flirty and sexy in a 1950s kind of way, it can in no way be confused with trashy. I don’t like the boots on the left with this one, but I think it would be cute with a pair of cowgirl boots or edgy statement boots.
2. Aim to Layer & Choose Colors That Mix and Match
Yup…adding color to my wardrobe is an actual process. I love black. Daydreaming in Ohio as a child, I always fantasized about the day I would grow up and move to California or New York city, and that image of sleek, stylish, classic black stayed with me. I never have a problem styling black, and since I wash everything on cold and hang it dry…I don’t have to shop that often. It surprises me to say that probably only half of the items (or less) I purchased in the entire sale are black and gray.
Button-front skirt — In the end, I decided to get both red and camel, and I was lucky that enough returns or restocks were coming in, so I finally snagged a size that fit me. My natural instinct is to always go for a neutral color, but I decided that I could use the red that way also, and that it would look great with the navy cardigan. I can easily pair these with tall boots, and I’ll have to see about booties or heels. I don’t wear flats — or I should say I rarely wear flats. I tried a size 4 (the one that’s paired with all black below) and the skirt doesn’t fall as flatteringly as the petite did. This one runs TTS, but if between sizes, size up. I also considered the tulip skirt that Tiarra tried on, but I wasn’t as convinced by the picture in the catalog as I am by her dressing room selfies.
Striped Cardigan – Shana’s layered look with the J. Crew blazer was the best midwest magic nostalgia, and it inspired me to get not only the blazer (below), but also the cardigan in both navy night and tan thrush. That basically laid the foundation for my fall color scheme. It’s also back in stock in both gray and blue (some tan)!
Blazer – I love this J. Crew blazer. It runs big, and while I’d prefer a size 2, I’m keeping it. I’ll probably wear a form-fitting top with it when I wear it with a skirt (like the sweater on the right) as opposed to the loose-fitting blouse I’m wearing on the left. That combo did, however, look pretty cute with jeans for a casual Friday. Black under the black blazer didn’t show up well in most of the photos, but it’ll be a good go-to outfit formula once it gets cold.
Black Skirt – This A-Line skirt on the right is super cute. It’s also a keeper. It has a flowy vibe, so it’s not stiff and can be styled for work or play. I tried a size 2, but I’ve since ordered a 4 to see which one will fit better (TTS).
Sweater – The sweater on the right is a keeper. You’ll see it below in blue. After trying it on, I went back online and ordered them in smaller sizes (a mix of XS and Petite S — it runs big), and bought quite a few in different colors. In this instance, the website picture does these tops justice. The scalloping is a nice detail. They’ll be great under blazers or cardigans, and on their own.
3. Update Your Basics
A Few Good Skirts
Yes! Skirts were a major score during the sale. I love a good classic skirt for fall and winter. Even though they are fairly basic in style and color, they are all fun and flattering. The two button-front skirts (above) are more fitting for work or daywear, but the ponte midi skirt and the rouched pencil skirt can be dressed up or down — a feature I like. And I am thrilled that I’ll be able to wear statement boots with the ponte skirt. My wardrobe is a little thin on cold-weather skirts, and in addition to being in stock, these are both hip and classic, and can be styled both understated and edgy, so they were an easy buy.
Skirt – I couldn’t have found a more perfect three-season skirt than this one. When it first arrived, I thought it. was a mistake, certain I’d meant to order a pencil skirt and not a midi skirt — couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. Although this one is a small, I’ve also ordered the XS so that I can compare. I guess all that dancing around the “dressing room” may have broken it in a bit.
Round Out Your Sweaters & Bottoms
Some days you just really need to throw on jeans and a sweater, a sweater and some leggings, or a sweater, a skirt and some boots (plus a pair of tights or thermals, depending on the thermostat).
Top – This sweatshirt is delightful and has great reviews. It’s a keeper—I wish I’d bought three of them, and I might get more now that I see there’s more stock. I’m not a sweatshirt girl, and I love this, so if you aren’t either, this might be the one for you. The smalls were sold out, so I went for a Medium Petite because I wanted it to be big and cozy.
Sweater – We are all loving this Topshop sweater (still in stock). Since most of us tried it on with the Jamie Flares or the Paige Raw Hems, I decided to see what it would look like with skinny jeans, and I love it. The booties, which I am am enamored with — I got them two colors — inspired me to cuff the skinnies. A favorite new look for me. Grab a scarf, and done. Happy fall.
So I ordered these leggings, and they’re not here yet. The ones above are similar, but the ones I ordered are pinstripe. They also come in black, and the reviews are great—even as a legging you can wear to work. Some days just require leggings, a cozy sweater and some tall boots (plus a scarf, of course).
Booties – I love these so much that I’m keeping them in two colors — both the Space Cadet and the Rose.
Jeans: The famous Topshop flares are a winner all around. I’m 5’2″ and even with these booties, which have just a small heel, the jeans are not too long on me. Plus, they look fantastic from the rear.
Sweater (runs small) – It turns out I ordered these in two different sizes. My plan was to exchange the size that didn’t fit, but they both fit well enough that it’s not worth going through the trouble to return and re-order. There are sizing conversions when you order on the website.
4. Try Some Gorgeous Statement Pieces
Soft White Cardigan I want to love this and I know I will — in the right size (size down; exchanging for an XS). I didn’t love many of the ways I styled it for my selfie session, but I know it’s a life-long wardrobe piece, and it sparks joy on its own. After my session, I’ve decided that this is the perfect sweater to throw on when I’m dressed up and need to cover my arms and shoulders, and a coat or blazer isn’t ideal. Warning: it will leave soft white lint all over your all-black outfit, so you may not want to wear it that way.
V-Neck Crop Sweater – Oops, I guess I should be wearing this off-the-shoulder…next time…for date night. When I begin posting those first-date selfies, start looking out for this top. It’s a keeper, hands down. It’s lovely, eye-catching and well-made. It will be a go-to when I need something special to wear. Inspired by S, it looks fantastic with jeans.
Blue Sweater – This piece is so gorgeous, and seeing it on Shana convinced me to go for it as one of those unique statement-making pieces that I would have forever and would spark joy. It does elicit happiness when I see it, but not when I’m wearing it. My honest opinion is that if you are tall and lanky (think Cam), it will look as delicious as it should. But as someone who is both and petite and curvy, it’s not the win I was hoping for. I would get an XS if I wanted to keep this one.
Build Your Fall Wardrobe with the 2018 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale
Shop Dresses & Skirts
Shop Tops, Sweaters & Blazers
I added in a few tops above because when I tried on my outfits, I realized I was woefully short on long-sleeved shirts in general. So I ordered them. With the exception of the Helmut Lang sweater, I’m ecstatic with all the other pieces I’ve chosen for fall — I’m keeping everything else in this post. I’m also glad I won’t have to do it all over again for a very long time.
Thanks for your patience with my first fashion piece, gang. It was fun, but I think the whole TME team is glad it won’t be frequent. Happy Shopping!