Em’s NSale Try-On: Everyday Denim, Dresses & Shoes

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OK gang — my turn. My NSale experience sounds a lot like that of my colleagues: very few items from my Wish List in store — in fact, very little in my store that caught my eye…at all — and yet, a happy ending nonetheless.

I’m not sure if it’s because Nordstrom knows that so much of their business is now online, but both of the stores I visited felt exceptionally picked over. And while I initially assumed it’s because I had to wait until *gasp* Day 3 to access the sale, all of the personal stylists I talked to mentioned that a lot of the popular brands are now shipping direct from the manufacturer. Meaning that even our largest store in the region will never even see two-thirds of what was on my Wish List. So bizarre. But I have to admit: I really like the peace, the slow, quiet process associated with shopping from the comfort of my sofa, so come Friday morning (when the Influencer tier officially opens online), I’ll be doing just that.

Dresses, Jeans & Some Dang Good Shoes + Boots: Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks I’ll Actually Wear

In the meantime, let’s get into the handful of pieces that I did find in store, and why I’m actually pretty dang pleased with what ended up being a small but mighty lot of dresses, denim and shoes.

My Top 4 NSale Keeper Pieces

Want just the nuts and bolts? Here are my top four picks from everything in this post.

Alright, on to the details.


Two Versatile Dresses I’ll Be Wearing All Year

1. Top Pick: Vince Pima Cotton Sleeveless Dress

MOTHER, Vince, FRAME, P448....I'm actually pretty dang pleased with the small but mighty lot of dresses, denim & shoes I picked up at #NSale 2021.

Dress | Shoes

Kicking things off with this Vince dress, because it’s easily my favorite piece of the sale. I know I’m not the first to say it, but it really does have some kinda drapey magic going on that wraps and flatters without adding bulk. It worked with all five pairs of shoes that I took home from the sale.

Kicking things off with this Vince dress, because it's easily my favorite piece of the sale. I know I'm not the first to say it, but it really does have some kinda drapey magic going on that wraps and flatters without adding bulk.

Outfit 1: Dress | Shoes | Outfit 2: Dress | Cardigan | Shoes | Outfit 3: Dress | Jacket | Shoes | Outfit 4: Dress | Shoes

And the biggest surprise might just be how well it works with an oversized sweater. Typically, on a wrap like this, I’d be concerned that the tie would hang awkwardly out from under the sweater, but if you wrap the sweater into the tie of the dress, it almost marries the two together. I love this look. And with the sneakers and mules (tried, but not pictured), it is oh-so-indulgently Olsen. Wearing an XS.

If you wrap the sweater into the tie of the dress, it almost marries the 2 together. I love this look. And with the sneakers & mules (tried, but not pictured), it is oh-so-indulgently Olsen.

Dress | Sweater | Shoes | Bag

2. Marine Layer Lexi Daytime Rib Midi Dress

MOTHER, Vince, FRAME, P448....I'm actually pretty dang pleased with the small but mighty lot of dresses, denim & shoes I picked up at #NSale 2021.

Outfit 1 : Dress | Shoes | Outfit 2: Dress | Shirt | Shoes | Outfit 3: Dress | Cardigan | Shoes | Outfit 4: Dress | Jacket | Shoes | Bag

Another easy dress that really surprised me with its slinky, stretchy lining that makes it feel amaaaazing on the body. Again, not a big surprise that I’d be drawn to this — it’s right up my casual alley — but it’ll get loads of wear. The lining makes it just a smidge warmer, too, so even when the afternoon fog rolls in, I won’t have to run home and change into sweats. Wearing an XS.


These 5 Jeans Cover All My Denim Wants & Needs
(+ All The Top Tops, Too)

OK, obviously I’m not going to ditch all my existing denim, but the heading above is true: if I were building my denim wardrobe from scratch, the five pairs below would cover most all my bases. Maybe I’d long, occasionally, for a pair of dramatic flares, but generally speaking, these five jeans would be more than enough for my needs. And it’s worth noting that none of them are particularly trendy. As in, there’s no tricky styling required. No “rules” around when and how to pair them with all your favorite tops. They’re flattering, well-made, versatile and will stand the test of time. Easy.

Because of that, I clearly didn’t do a heck of a lot with the styling here. What I thought might be more valuable to see was how the fit complemented a variety of footwear. (Spoiler: it just about all goes together, and with very little effort.)

1. Top Pick: PAIGE Cindy Ripped Straight Leg Jeans (+ Caslon Rounded V-Neck Tee)

The style of these PAIGE Cindy Ripped Straight Leg Jeans is super-exciting to me. There's more room through the leg than a skinny, but not so much so that it's crossing over into mom jean or even 501 territory.

Shirt | Jeans | Shoes

It’s been a while since I’ve bought a new pair of PAIGE jeans — I still have a few I wore in college, but they’re wearing real thin — and I was super pleasantly surprised to find they’re still great on the butt. The style of these PAIGE Cindy Ripped Straight Leg Jeans is super-exciting to me, despite the fact that it might not look like anything special. There’s more room through the leg than a skinny, but not so much so that it’s crossing over into mom jean or even 501 territory. Almost more like all the most flattering parts of a skinny paired with the lighter wash I usually associate with rigid denim paired with the perfect amount of distressing…and a leg that’s just straight enough to feel current. Not only did these look great with every shoe I tried on, but they’ll look great with tees, tanks, sweaters, bodysuits, flirty little tops. Fave jeans of the sale — I’m saying it.

I've talked this Caslon Rounded V-Neck Tee to death. It shows the ideal amount of skin with the rounded V; it's not fully opaque, but it still works just swell with a nude bra; it's long enough to tuck or knot; love the classic pocket styling; the sleeve length is short enough to flatter without veering into muscle tank territory.

L: Shirt | Jeans | Shoes | R: Shirt | Jeans | Shoes | Bag

I’ve talked this Caslon Rounded V-Neck Tee to death, but for the new folks (hi! thanks for hanging!), allow me to introduce the Unicorn of white tees. It shows the ideal amount of skin with the rounded V; it’s not fully opaque, but it still works just swell with a nude bra; it’s long enough to tuck or knot; love the classic pocket styling; the sleeve length is short enough to flatter without veering into muscle tank territory. It’s just such a solid choice. I’ve been wearing it three years straight (I credit zero tiny holes to the fact that I always French tuck it in the car so the seatbelt doesn’t rub it against my waistband — try it!), and it’s in this year’s sale for $12. No-brainer. Wearing an XS.

2. MOTHER The Insider High Waist Crop Step-Hem Jean (+ Daydreamer Queen Tee)

MOTHER, Vince, FRAME, P448....I'm actually pretty dang pleased with the small but mighty lot of dresses, denim & shoes I picked up at #NSale 2021.

Shirt | Jeans | Shoes | Bag

I might officially be the last person on the team to slip a pair of MOTHER jeans on my body. Well, no longer! These The Insider jeans look absolutely absurd on the website (I’m sorry, something about the boots they’re paired with just make them look…stumpy), but all the footwear options, below, prove they can almost do no wrong. On my 5’5″ frame, I will say they graze the tops of the FRAME booties in a way that makes them feel either too short or too long, but you could still totally get away with it. Per Mere & Laura’s suggestion, I sized up one (26).

MOTHER, Vince, FRAME, P448....I'm actually pretty dang pleased with the small but mighty lot of dresses, denim & shoes I picked up at #NSale 2021.

Outfit 1: Shirt | Jeans | Shoes | Outfit 2: Shirt | Jeans | Shoes | Outfit 3: Shirt | Jeans | Shoes | Outfit 4: Shirt | Jeans | Shoes

If you saw my Wish List, you know this Queen tee was at the tippy top. Didn’t disappoint. Daydreamer tees (there are a few in the sale) are always so good. Perfectly broken-in without feeling like they’ll disintegrate in the wash. Wearing a small here because that’s what they had, but I think an XS would have worked, too.

3. AG The Ex-Boyfriend Slim Jean (+ Caslon Rounded V-Neck Tee)

MOTHER, Vince, FRAME, P448....I'm actually pretty dang pleased with the small but mighty lot of dresses, denim & shoes I picked up at #NSale 2021.

L: Shirt | Jeans | Shoes | R: Shirt | Jeans | Shoes

I knew I’d love these AG Ex-Boyfriend Slims. I tried the same style in a similar wash in last year’s sale, and they lost out to the rag & bone Dres (back this year in full-length!) by juuuust a hair. This year, I appreciate that they’re not quite as low-rise as the Dres, and dang are they soft. Didn’t want to take them off — not even a little bit. Love that they’re just ankle-skimming, but you can cuff them for more cropping, too. Wearing my true size (25).

My favorite look with a boyfriend-style jean like this will always be a white tee, so here’s my fave again for this round. Unbeatable.

4. MOTHER The Looker High Waist Crop Skinny Jean (+ Free People Swim Too Deep Sweater)

As far as skinnies go, these are as solid a pair as they come. Delightfully soft & comfortable, just stretchy enough, just high-rise enough, flattering medium indigo wash (non-distressed, mind you -- making them easy for a Casual Friday kinda vibe).

Outfit 1: Sweater | Jeans | Shoes | Outfit 2: Sweater | Jeans | Shoes | Bag | Outfit 3: Sweater | Jeans | Shoes | Outfit 4: Sweater | Jeans | Shoes

I initially put these The Looker Skinnies on my list hoping there’d be some sliver of a chance that I’d be able to nab these Staud boots in-store, and I wanted to see if I could get back on the ol’ boots over skinnies thing. (Honestly, I don’t feel as if that style will ever be truly out even if it’s not exactly…in…) Well, boots were no dice, but as far as skinnies go, these are as solid a pair as they come. Delightfully soft and comfortable, just stretchy enough, just high-rise enough, flattering medium indigo wash (non-distressed, mind you — making them easy for a Casual Friday kinda vibe). A basic pair of skinnies that pairs beautifully with a big ol’ basic sweater. No reinvented wheels, but hey — sometimes you just want something familiar that you know will get a boatload of wear. This is that. And they give the bum great shape, too. Sized up one in these, as well (26).

This Free People Swim Too Deep Sweater is aptly named — it’s HUGE. But delightfully so. So many MK+A Olsen moments just waiting to happen with this loveable beast. Wearing (believe it or not) an XS here. Adore.

5. Levi’s 501 Crop (+ Billabong Sunrise Stripe Cardigan)

MOTHER, Vince, FRAME, P448....I'm actually pretty dang pleased with the small but mighty lot of dresses, denim & shoes I picked up at #NSale 2021.

Cardigan | Jeans | Shoes

Well hey, old buddy. Good to see you here! You know I am a HUGE fan of 501s, and yet these were a real surprise to me. The “Deep Dark” wash is super interesting: it’s a rinse that almost reads true navy. Not indigo, but navy. For this reason, I found it a little tricky to pair with black and grays (you’ll notice I skipped the black boots with these), but it looks stellar with creamy neutrals. With white low-tops, they’re even almost a little preppy, but because of the 501 fit (straight, with a little room in the seat and thigh), they still feel fresh. Interestingly, these aren’t 100% denim, and I felt more comfortable in one size up (26).

MOTHER, Vince, FRAME, P448....I'm actually pretty dang pleased with the small but mighty lot of dresses, denim & shoes I picked up at #NSale 2021.

L: Cardigan | Jeans | Shoes | R: Cardigan | Jeans | Shoes

This Billabong cardigan isn’t what I’d call an investment piece, but I’m letting it slide because it’s such an effortless piece to style. You can wear it solo as a top (it’s pretty low-cut, so wear a bra you intend to show off a bit) — or over a cami, it can be slouchy and off the shoulder and chill-beachy-cute. Inexpensive (and inexpensively made), but quintessentially casual and fun. Wearing a S but would be better off in my true XS.


An Ideally Sized Tote I Didn’t Know I Needed

Top Pick: ALLSAINTS Celeste Clarendon Canvas Tote

ALLSAINTS really nailed the proportions on this tote. It's got total (tote-al?) tote vibes -- and it's big enough to function more or less as a tote -- but without being dwarfingly large.

L: Shirt | Jeans (similar) | Bag | R: Dress | Sweater | Boots | Bag

ALLSAINTS really nailed the proportions on this tote. It’s got total (tote-al?) tote vibes — and it’s big enough to function more or less as a tote — but without being dwarfingly large. The longer handles are just the right length for carrying it comfortably on your shoulder, yet it’s small enough that you can carry it with the smaller handles and it feels a bit more like a purse. And I love the black canvas, which is versatile and utilitarian enough for everyday use while the subtle black-on-black logo is just something enough to feel a little, I dunno — fashiony? It’s got a handy little pouch inside that clips in and out, too. When I immediately moved over my possessions as soon as we left the store, I filled the smaller pouch with my cards, cash and lip gloss and stuffed my water bottle, phone and sweater into the main compartment. With room to spare. Overall just an exceptionally well-designed, useful piece for under $100.


5 NSale Shoes I Know I’d Actually Wear In The Real World

It’s so easy to get sucked into the NSale — and oftentimes I find myself staring down a dozen pair of shoes that all seem too lovely to let go of — especially at the sale price. But when it really comes down to it, I know with certainty which shoes I’m likely to reach for without second thought — and which ones are promising on the foot (and in the mirror!) but will realistically see the inside of my closet more than the light of day. These picks all make the cut.

1. Top Pick: Jenni Kayne Mules

I didn't want to love these Jenni Kayne Mules...They fit my foot like a hug, and unlike some mules, it takes zero effort to keep them on.

Shirt | Jeans (similar) | Shoes | Bag

I didn’t want to love these Jenni Kayne Mules because $250 seems like a real steep price for a shoe without a lotta…shoe. And lemme tell you: it is. BUT it’s a hell of a lot less than the full price of $400, and for the amount of wear I already know they’re going to get, they’ll be a worthy investment. They fit my foot like a hug, and unlike some mules, it takes zero effort to keep them on. (I wore them most of the day after picking them up, and there was none of the usual shin strain I often get from aggressively flexing to keep mules from sliding off my feet.) They weren’t too narrow to accommodate my extremely attractive genetic bunions, either. And the espresso color, which I initially wished was a little warmer, magically complements just about every shade of denim. I usually wear an 8, and the length of the 39s is perfection.

2. P448 John Low Top Sneakers

Again, not sure how it took me so long to slip on a pair of P448s, but these John Low Tops are as rad as Laura promised. Instantly comfortable — and I love the minimal embellishments on these. For sizing, I’m usually an 8 and wear a 38. (Note: I also tried on the Thea style in store, and that style runs shorter — I needed a 39. The sales associate said it’s pretty true of all the platform P448s. Shoe’d for thought.)

MOTHER, Vince, FRAME, P448....I'm actually pretty dang pleased with the small but mighty lot of dresses, denim & shoes I picked up at #NSale 2021.

L: Shirt | Jeans | Shoes | R: Sweatshirt | Leggings | Shoes | Bag

3. FRAME Le Lexington Chelsea Boots

Dang gang, these FRAME Le Lexington Boots are freaking good.

L: Shirt | Jeans | Shoes | R: Sweater | Jeans | Shoes

Dang gang, these FRAME Le Lexington Boots are freaking good. I’ve been eyeing a pair of ivory booties with a black gusset for a while, and these were lending some serious cool factor to everything I paired them with. Did not disappoint in the least. I do wish the shaft were maybe an inch higher so they’d be less likely to just graze the hem of some of my cropped jeans, but I can live with them the way they are. And honestly, if they go back, it’ll only be because I already own a pair of ivory boots — and really, how many does one need? (On that note, I love the camel pair that S tried too — such an ideal warm, butterscotch shade. Hmmmm…) True to size.

MOTHER, Vince, FRAME, P448....I'm actually pretty dang pleased with the small but mighty lot of dresses, denim & shoes I picked up at #NSale 2021.

 Shirt | Jeans | Shoes

4. Marc Fisher Gadri Pointed Toe Booties

MOTHER, Vince, FRAME, P448....I'm actually pretty dang pleased with the small but mighty lot of dresses, denim & shoes I picked up at #NSale 2021.

L: Sweater | Jeans | Shoes | R: Shirt | Jeans | Shoes

Great pair of booties — especially for the price. At first blush, they look like they could be Lucky or Frye (both good things, as far as boots are concerned — I have pairs from both that are similar to these). And there’s just a whisper of Western boot influence, which always makes boots seem infinitely more wearable for everyday. Also available in a really pretty burnt caramel that I spied in-store. True to size.

5. Vagabond Cosmo 2.0 Boot

MOTHER, Vince, FRAME, P448....I'm actually pretty dang pleased with the small but mighty lot of dresses, denim & shoes I picked up at #NSale 2021.

Shirt | Jeans | Shoes

The Vagabond Cosmo Boots in the sale have a 4″ higher shaft than the ones I’m wearing, but I mixed these in here because they’ve been one of my most-worn pieces of footwear over the past year, and they’re similar enough in all other respects that I think the boots in the sale could serve the exact same purpose. In fact, the extra-high shaft on the NSale boots would actually make them easier to pair with dresses of varying lengths, and they’re slim enough that they’d still tuck away neatly under straight legs or flares. (If you’re after the exact style I’m wearing, it’s still available, not on sale, here.)


Bonus: The Lounge Outfit I’m Wearing Right Now

The Nike sweatshirt is new (wearing an XS) -- the rusty wine color is everything I want to be wearing all fall long. And the Zella leggings are years old, but they're possibly my favorite leggings for the price.

Sweatshirt | Leggings | Shoes | Bag

I intentionally left this outfit for last knowing it’d be exactly what I’d want to park myself in while I spent the next few hours editing photos and putting this post together. The Nike sweatshirt is new (wearing an XS) — the rusty wine color is everything I want to be wearing all fall long. (Crossing my fingers I can still snag the matching sweats when I place my order Friday.) And the Zella leggings are years old, but they’re possibly my favorite leggings for the price (not at all sheer, high-waisted, don’t roll down) and they’re in this year’s sale, too. Reliably comfy and still going strong.


That’s it from me this first round! Nothing ground-breaking (still hoping for a few more novel items in Friday’s order), but a few really key pieces that I know will work seamlessly into my existing wardrobe, and that confidence in investing in pieces I’ll actually wear is always satisfying in its own right.

Thank you, as always, for supporting TME by using the links in this post if you choose to shop the sale. And if you want more NSale coverage like this (selfies, wish lists, capsule wardrobes, outfit inspo and more), we’ve handily catalogued all of our ongoing Anni Sale posts (and tips for shopping) here. For the short straight-to-the-articles version, check out our NSale Cheat Sheet.

xo,
Em

Friends! Follow me on Instagram for accessible, easily adaptable recipes; sneak peeks of The Mom Edit content (and sales!); and more snippets of our life on the Northern California coast. And if you feel so inclined, pop over to my personal food + lifestyle blog, The Pig & Quill, where I share salty scribblings from my kitchen and home life. Byeeeeee!

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