The True Gems of the 2023 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

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Well, well, well. The team and I have been deep diving into Nordstrom Anniversary Sale content for about a week now (Ang posted this BTS reel from the office — I am in my natural, non-bloggery state, haha), and now?

I have some Things To Say.

While there’s no doubt that the NSale has been changing over the years — the Burberry trench coats of 10+ years ago are long gone, as are public sale restocks — this year’s Anniversary Sale feels decidedly different, even compared to the last couple of years. Different…as in…good? Frankly, I’m not sure.

Before I dive into why, allow me a quick qualifier: fashion is hard right now. Silhouettes are changing, denim styles are changing and the uniform I’ve been relying on for 10+ years (sweaters, jeans, boots, done) I can’t…quite…figure out. Half-tuck? Ankle boots? Oof.

Nothing looks right anymore.

So there’s no doubt that part of my NSale dissatisfaction is stemming from my sartorial issues in general. That said, let’s just rip this bandaid right off:

Not Just Cute: The Most Useful Pieces To Buy In The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2023

If you’re looking for true gems, the hardworking wardrobe pieces that are beautiful, practical, and well-made…you might be disappointed with this year’s sweater selection. And while I’m pleased with the denim selection, there’s a questionable boot selection (maybe that’s just me — see previously mentioned sartorial issues in general), a deeply disappointing bag selection and literally only one silk top (ok this tank, too) that I’d be willing to wear.

GAHHH.

There is, however, some good news: This year’s NSale seems to be really, really piece-driven. There are a handful of outfit-making pieces that I am genuinely, deeply, excited about. I can’t quite figure out how to turn my NSale selections into a complete capsule wardrobe, but that’s OK. Instead, I can offer up a few select pieces that will elevate what you already have in your closet, or maybe even fill some holes in your wardrobe.

This article is all about zeroing in on the best, most useful pieces in the NSale — the true gems. In my completely 100% biased opinion, I’m defining a “true gem” as a piece that is not only beautiful, but also useful, versatile, and incredibly well-made. We’re talking zero compromises on quality. Fabric composition matters, with extra points for natural fibers (cashmere, cotton, linen, silk or wool). I’m also considering historical performance — which brands routinely include high-quality pieces in this sale? And which brands have disappointed?

Let’s get into it.

The NSale can be hard to sift through, but it's got some real "true gems." Quality fall coats, designer jeans, silk pillowcases — we found all thee elevated, outfit-making pieces, so you don't have to.

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1. Classic Wool Coats

The oxblood coat (above) is my personal top NSale pick: the extra room in the middle gives the coat a nonchalant, fresh shape.

Nordstrom Signature Wool & Cashmere Long Coat

The NSale has long been my go-to for gorgeous wool coats, and this year’s sale does not disappoint. The oxblood coat (above) is my personal top pick: the extra room in the middle gives the coat a nonchalant, fresh shape. If you missed out on my top pick from last year —Reiss’ longline coat — it’s back! I’ve worn it over everything from fancy dresses to jeans (see it on, here) and can highly recommend. Are these the warmest coats you’ll ever wear? Nah. But I find that these unlined wool coats are lightweight and comfortable, and warm enough. I’ve been wearing mine instead of moto jackets.

Here are the wool coats worth a look in the NSale (prices range from $149 – $1,200):


2. Puffers, Raincoats & Trench Coats

This faux-leather puffer from Levi's is similar to an old one I have from Abercrombie, and it's been surprisingly useful.

Levi’s Water Resistant Faux Leather Puffer Jacket (also in black)

This faux-leather puffer from Levi’s is similar to an old one I have from Abercrombie, and it’s been surprisingly useful. Cropped puffer jackets (especially in faux-leather or other exciting fabrics) are another seriously chic option to make old daily uniforms feel fresh.

But puffer coats and rain jackets, in general, are two other areas where the Anniversary Sale really shines, including this year! While I was bummed that The North Face didn’t show, Barbour, in particular, is a true NSale gem, and most of their styles come in both regular and plus sizes. I swear by their raincoats (like this one – also in plus). Save the Duck is another personal favorite. Their jackets are truly warm and water repellent, and I appreciate their little details (an extra bit of stretch, or faux-fur lining, etc). I may even pick up one for Pax this year (the kid loves a faux-fur lining).

psst! If you are still sulking over The North Face, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Saks has a bunch of North Face for kids and guys on sale right now.

Anyway, these are the puffer jackets and raincoats from the NSale I’m eyeing up (prices range from $99 – $299):


3. Designer Denim

Nordstrom played it super-smart, quite frankly, with a seriously stellar array of wide-leg jeans (a safe bet for fall 2023) and a few on-trend denim skirts. YASSS.

rag&bone skirt | Veronica Beard flares

Ok! The NSale denim is great. Granted, I am currently struggling with jeans in real life (low rise? high? barrel? baggy?), so if you’re looking for something really current, you might be disappointed (this is the only option). But Nordstrom played it super-smart, quite frankly, with a seriously stellar array of wide-leg jeans (a safe bet for fall 2023) and a few on-trend denim skirts. YASSS.

In fact, there are so many pairs of seriously great denim that I broke it up by type.

The Best Denim Skirts & Shorts In The 2023 NSale

Arguably one of the best buys of the sale, so let’s start here. (ps. Was disappointed to see that there are no options in extended sizes. The rest of the denim, however, I was able to find few good plus-size options.)

The Best Wide-Leg Jeans In The 2023 NSale

Full-length, wide-leg jeans are one of my top picks for fall. The trick here is to find a pair that is a true wide-leg (not flared), and actually full length. Happily, the NSale nailed it, and there are wide-leg jeans that range from a 29″ inseam to a whopping 35″ inseam! These are the jeans you can wear to work (in many cases), or use to make any outfit feel more sophisticated. True classics.

The Best Flares, Bootcut & Similar Jeans In The 2023 NSale

While similar to a true wide-leg, flares, in practice, have much more personality. Instead of a classic vibe (that can easily be taken in many directions), flares have a pretty distinct point of view. I think of flares as the middle child of denim: they look similar…but do their own thing. Bootcuts are similar (just a little more boring). I say these things with love!! I, too, am a middle child, and sometimes I love boring.

The Best Straight Leg Jeans In The 2023 NSale

Arguably some of the hardest working jeans in my closet: straight legs. Whether high rise, low rise, cropped or full length…these are riding that middle ground of trendy & classic, so plan on keeping them around a while.


4. Something To Replace Cardigans

First of all, this cardigan coat from Vince is the FIRST thing I'm buying. It's a 100% wool/cashmere blend, the lines are impossibly chic, and — if you look closely — the yarn resembles TWEED. I die.

Vince Bouclé Wool & Cashmere Cardigan Coat

First of all, this cardigan coat from Vince is the FIRST thing I’m buying. It’s a 100% wool/cashmere blend, the lines are impossibly chic, and — if you look closely — the yarn resembles TWEED. I die.

But Guys…we need to talk about cardigans in general. It is my opinion that traditional cardigans (like this or this) should be worn like tops or not at all. And I’d think twice about those basic, open cardigans. I do still like them over something sexy + silky (almost like a shawl) but not with regular outfits. Instead, for my everyday outfits, I’m looking for some something soft, yet tailored. A cardigan with coat-like vibes, or a jacket-sweater hybrid.

These are the pieces that could potentially replace basic cardigans (prices range from $36 – $350):


5. Pants To Replace Jeans

rousers, cool sweatpants, baggy cargos, parachute pants — literally anything that isn't denim is trending.  I have high hopes for thee Zella cargo parachute pants.

Zella Scout Adjustable Leg Cargo Pants

Pants are having a major moment right now. Trousers, cool sweatpants, baggy cargos, parachute pants — literally anything that isn’t denim is trending. And I get it — buttoning up that fly is rough sometimes. Personally, I’m really into a more casual pant, so I have high hopes for the Zella cargo parachute pants, above.

That said, this fall I’d love to find an honest-to-goodness pair of fantastic wool trousers…and them hem ’em for sneakers.

Here are the Anniversary Sale pants I think are worth trying instead of jeans this fall (prices range from $35 – $300):


6. Cool Blazers

One area where the 2023 NSale has a ton of really solid options are blazers. Personally, I'm looking for something either oversized or longline.

Vince Double Breasted Crepe Suit Blazer

One area where the 2023 NSale has a ton of really solid options are blazers. Personally, I’m looking for something either oversized or longline. Those two silhouettes have the most staying power.

Here are the blazers that caught my eye in this year’ NSale (prices range from $54 to $399):


7. Frank & Eileen Travel Sets

Frank & Eileen's 100% cotton sweat sets are freaking magic. I own them in multiple colors, and they look REALLY fancy on.

Frank & Eileen Travel Set

Frank & Eileen’s 100% cotton sweat sets are freaking magic. I own them in multiple colors, and they look REALLY fancy on. They’re the set I wear when we fly overseas, and last summer I went right from an overnight plane flight to a fancy brunch in one and never looked out of place. They’re GREAT, wash up well, and never bag out. They’re so freaking good that — if you don’t love the colors in the NSale — it’s worth saving up for the color you actually want at Frank & Eileen themselves.

That said…the pink is seriously cute, and the mushroom is pretty darn chic.


8. Sweaters in 100% Cotton, Cashmere or Wool

So here are the only sweaters I consider true gems. All are made from some blend of cashmere, wool and cotton — 100% natural fibers.

rag & bone Ally Whipstitch Detail Mock Neck Sweater

Okaay. Let’s get into it: While there are eleven 100% cashmere sweaters, two of them are over $600 (even on sale, which is just bananas, do not recommend), and the rest are either boring (here’s one example) or – oof, I don’t usually use this word — ugly. In fact, there’s basically only one 100% cashmere sweater I’d really recommend and it’s…a cardigan? Weird.

If you’re looking for a low-cost, playful sort of sweater in an acrylic blend, there are a ton to choose from (this or this, as examples). But that’s not really what this article is about. So here are the only sweaters I consider true gems. All are made from some blend of cashmere, wool and cotton — 100% natural fibers.


9. Interesting Tops & Tees In 100% Cotton

There are actually some really fun, very wearable, 100% cotton tops in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this year. The kinds of pieces I wear the heck out of. Prices range from $30 - $115:

Free People Ten Laps Asymmetric Long Sleeve Cotton Top

If you found the sweater section depressing, this will cheer you up! There are actually some really fun, very wearable, 100% cotton tops in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this year. The kinds of pieces I wear the heck out of. Prices range from $30 – $115:


10. Statement Shoes & Boots

I'm using it this year's sale to expand my shoe & boot options with something that makes more of a statement, something that feels a little unexpected.

Statement Shoes & Boots

While I don’t know that I’ve found anything that’s a solid candidate for my daily fall shoe (frankly, that’s going to be my adidas Sambas, Gazelles, or Gazelle Bolds)…there are some really fun shoe and boot options in the NSale. I’m using this year’s sale to expand my options with something that makes more of a statement, something that feels a little unexpected. Here’s what I’ve found:


11. Cool Jewelry (ps. Silver Is Back)

Over the last few years, the NSale has had a pretty exciting jewelry selection, thanks in part to Monica Vinader.

Cool Jewelry

Over the last few years, the NSale has had a pretty exciting jewelry selection, thanks in part to Monica Vinader. Not only are her designs gorgeous, but they’re made from recycled materials, too. I’m also a huge Jenny Bird fan, so was thrilled to see some pieces in the sale. I’m going to use this year’s sale to pick up some silver earrings, and maybe a necklace. I have a few pieces I wear in yellow gold, but I’m starting to love the freshness of silver again.

One well kept secret? The NSale often has seriously cool Apple Watch bands. Like..oh gosh…Missoni.


12. 100% Silk Pajamas

Lunya is now in the NSale! These 100% silk PJs are stunning in person and incredibly well-made. I

Lunya Racerback Washable Silk Short Pajamas

Lunya is now in the NSale! These 100% silk PJs are stunning in person and incredibly well-made. I tried them a few years ago and found the waistband too tight for my comfort, but I’ve been meaning to try them again; they’re a favorite of Amy & Em. That said, Nordstrom came out with their own line of 100% silk pajamas, too — also in the NSale. I like the styling of Lunya’s better (it strikes me as more modern), but it would be hard to go wrong with Nordstrom’s classic take.


13. GHD Hair Tools

Scotti tipped me off to GHD hair style tools years ago, and they really are worth the cost — even full price.

ghd Soft Curl 1 1/4-Inch Curling Iron

These are the hair styling tools I swear by. Scotti tipped me off to them years ago, and they really are worth the cost — even full price. They heat up in a couple of seconds, and have voltage switching built in so you can travel with them. I’ve tried a bunch of different ones, but I keep coming back to the old-fashioned curling iron. It really does make the fastest beachy waves.


14. slip 100% Silk Pillowcase

I've tried other silk pillowcases, and none compare to slip's. These pillowcases help reduce frizzy hair and, because they absorb less of your face serums and creams than cotton pillowcases, eventually help prevent wrinkles, too

slip Pure Silk Pillowcase & Skinny Scrunchies Set

I’ve tried other silk pillowcases, and none compare to slip’s. These pillowcases help reduce frizzy hair and, because they absorb less of your face serums and creams than cotton pillowcases, eventually help prevent wrinkles, too. I also appreciate not waking up in the morning with pillowcase creases on my face. One slip pillowcase (not on sale) costs $89, so you’re basically getting the silk scrunchies for free.


15. Tom Ford Shimmering Body Oil

These Tom Ford body oils smell like sexy summer nights at the beach and leave your skin shimmering. If you're into that kind of thing. ;)

Tom Ford Shimmering Body Oil

Gosh, I love these products. They smell like sexy summer nights at the beach and leave your skin shimmering. If you’re into that kind of thing. 😉


P.S. Our Ultimate Guide to Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale 2023 just dropped! It’s your one-stop shopping guide with all our best recs, so be sure to check it out.

Xo,

S

Oh hey, pinners…

The NSale can be hard to sift through, but it's got some real "true gems." Quality fall coats, designer jeans, silk pillowcases — we found all thee elevated, outfit-making pieces, so you don't have to.