How To (Effectively) Shop The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

style blogger Susan B. still loves this russet red cardigan, purchased from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale two years ago. Visit une femme d'un certain age for strategies on getting the most out of this sale.

It’s That Time Again…

Yes, you may see a lot of online hoopla about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale in the coming days. I’ve been banging the drum about this sale annually since I began blogging, and I still think it’s worth writing about and shopping. Early access (for Nordstrom cardholders) starts July 13, and full access runs July 21 through August 6.

So what’s so great about this sale? It’s new fall merchandise, and some of it exclusive to Nordstrom. Each year I’ve found a few good really good things, including that Eileen Fisher cardigan above. I purchased it during the sale in 2015, featured on the blog again a year later, and it’s still in my wardrobe. I’m looking forward to wearing it again this fall when the weather cools down. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is also an opportunity to stock up on some favorite beauty and personal care products that are discounted for a limited time.

That said, I’ve learned to temper my expectations, and approach this sale rationally and selectively. And strategically. I’m not looking to replenish my entire closet. Rather, I think in terms of finding a few good pieces to refresh my fall wardrobe.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Shopping Strategies

But how to ferret out the best selections when there’s SO MUCH STUFF included in the sale? Over the last few years I’ve developed a plan of attack that’s worked pretty well to cut through the clutter.

First, I’m a Nordstrom cardholder, which gives me early access on July 13 (and earns points toward Nordstrom Notes).  In advance of the sale, I’ll peruse the sale catalog (online HERE) and make notes on any pieces that look interesting.

Page from Nordstrom Anniversary Sale catalog. Style blogger Susan B. of une femme d'un certain age shares tips for shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Can you guess which item from this page is on my short list? 😉

First Pass

Once the sale goes live, I’ll do a quick search for any specific items from the catalog that caught my eye. But there’s always a lot more offered than what’s shown in the catalog. So next, I’ll search the sale by my favorite brands.

Second Pass

But part of the fun of this sale is discovering new brands, or re-discovering brands that might have fallen off my radar. So for my second sweep through the sale, I search by more general terms, based on type of pieces that I may want to add to my wardrobe, or wear/use most often, or that may be more available during this season. For example:

A Few More Tips:

  • Many desirable items will go fast. If you’re unsure of sizing, you might want to order multiple sizes to try. Shipping and returns are free, so it’s a risk-free proposition.
  • If something you wanted is sold out in your desired size or color, don’t despair! Bookmark it, and keep checking back regularly throughout the sale. Many people will do what I’ve suggested above, and will be returning items that didn’t fit or didn’t work for them. I’ve often seen items become available again after a few days.
  • If you live near a Nordstrom location you can order items online to pick up at the store, depending on availability. You can often pick up the same day, and by ordering online you can guarantee that your favorites won’t be sold out by the time you get to the store.
  • Once the early access sale begins, I’ll update my SHOP page to include my sale picks. I’ll continue to update throughout the sale, so keep checking back.

Anything you have your eye on or are hoping to find during the sale?

Stay in touch.

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  1. July 10, 2017 / 4:38 am

    Last year’s anniversary sale was “meh” I ended up purchasing a leather Longchamp bag which was a great buy. Other than that, it was disappointing. I’m in the market for boots so we’ll see…..

  2. Nancy
    July 10, 2017 / 4:49 am

    I should know this but …have forgotten…are all sale items on line 7/13 or not until the date non card holders can access the sale in stores? I am a card holder but cannot visit a store until 7/21 so hoping I can access items on line 7/13. Thank you in advance.

    • Susan B
      July 10, 2017 / 7:31 am

      Hi Nancy, if you’re a cardholder, you’ll be able to access the sale online on 7/13. You’ll probably be asked to sign in to your account before you can add sale items to your shopping cart.

      • Nancy
        July 10, 2017 / 9:02 am


  3. July 10, 2017 / 5:17 am

    I loved the Anniversary Sale the first year the store opened in Ottawa. And bought a few lovely items. Love the idea that it is new fall merchandise! Last year my friend who is the personal shopper in the Ottawa store sent me the link to the on-line catalogue of “preview items.” Problem was that most of the items were NOT available here in Canada. So if you’re a customer of a Canadian store… beware… things are not the same north of the border.

  4. Laurel
    July 10, 2017 / 7:36 am

    I always find a few things that I love at the Anniversary Sale. Like most of you, I’m waiting eagerly with my list for Thursday. And you’re totally right re: returns and finding things that are gone if you keep looking. I ordered a pair of boots three times last year before I found the right size in stock. But I wore them all winter! Totally worth it!

  5. July 10, 2017 / 7:48 am

    Thanks for these tips, Susan. Does the sale only focus on fall merchandise? I’ve had my eye on a few summer items hoping they would be marked down during the sale. Do you think that will happen or should I go ahead and purchase before they sell out?

  6. July 10, 2017 / 7:51 am

    Wish I were still shopping at Nordstrom, but gave up my card earlier this year. Hoping to find the same items price matched elsewhere.

  7. Julie
    July 10, 2017 / 7:56 am

    Ive never been a fan of this sale. First of all the summer merchandise is cleared out in July and the store fills with fall merchandise. In most climates this clothing sits in closets for severeal months before it can be worn. To me that wipes out any “savings”. It is also so heavily slanted to encourage the use of Nordstroms credit card which caries very high interest. If you choose to not be a holder of their credit card you are excluded from much of the offers.
    Our Nordstrom here in Cleveland has become so poorly stocked with sizes and merchandise the clerks mostly offer to order things for you and ship. Not great.

    • Susan B
      July 11, 2017 / 7:22 am

      Hi Julie, I use a few store credit cards for the rewards/points program, and avoid the interest fees by paying them off in full each month. Sorry to hear your local store isn’t stocked with what you like.

  8. July 10, 2017 / 7:59 am

    Great tips. I’m often overwhelmed by this sale. This makes it more approachable.

  9. July 10, 2017 / 7:59 am

    Since Nordstrom is based in my home town, I’ve been shopping the Anniversary Sale since my college days (that is a LONG time ago). At one time, I would schedule a day off from work so that I could be there when the doors opened. But over the years, I realized that major brands would manufacture goods specifically for the sale and the quality suffered OR the item would include huge brand logos which I avoid (I’m thinking Michael Kors and Coach, for instance). My strategy is to stick to the brands that I I know – Paul Green/Munro for shoes, NYDJ, Eileen Fisher and Nordstrom Collection for clothes.

    Nancy – thanks for the link to the lookbook – should be a big help. One last strategy – in the past, the web sale opened up at midnight ET – which means that those of us on the left coast can go online at 9:00 p.m. on the 12th.

  10. Melissa
    July 10, 2017 / 8:28 am

    I love Nordstrom but do not care for the Anniversary sale. The items on the sale will be discounted again – even more so – by Labor Day. And by then the store is full of much more Fall merchandise. I think people end up returning a lot of their purchases later in the summer once they see the new lines start to come into stores. That’s the problem with selling items in July that cannot be worn until much later in the year.

  11. Wendelah
    July 10, 2017 / 10:24 am

    I’m not buying anything new. I don’t need clothes or shoes or bags. I need to get my house painted and save for property taxes.

    Have fun!

  12. July 10, 2017 / 10:35 am

    How exciting. The SPACE at Nordstrom, which I adore, has mega sales on. How I love going through those racks – they maul me with inspiration and I stagger home wondering about adaptation. I hope you find some new favourites at the sale. I’m sure you will.

  13. Maggie
    July 10, 2017 / 5:40 pm

    Thanks for the lookbook link. There is nothing that I buy exclusively at Nordstrom anymore but page 52 on “puddle stompers” got my attention since it is easy to ruin nice shoes in the Northeast. I liked looking at the pages for style inspiration. By the way, I meant to ask you if you can wear any of the Kande necklaces as a belt.

    • Maggie
      July 10, 2017 / 5:45 pm

      Also, I wondered if you had ever considered teaming up with EF to do a photo shoot. You really wear her clothes well and know how to mix her pieces up with current things in your wardrobe.

      • Susan B
        July 11, 2017 / 6:58 am

        Maggie, thanks! I’d love to work with Eileen Fisher but they haven’t asked me yet. 😉

  14. Nancy
    July 11, 2017 / 4:59 am

    I have often wondered if some i.e. leather bags are produced for this sale are not as nice as others i.e. IIt seemed to me last yr the quality of the T. Burch leather bag(s) was lower than her other bags, but maybe just my imagination? Interested in others thoughts on this

  15. July 15, 2017 / 6:01 am

    I do wish that Nordstrom’s would feature a variety of ages in their catalog though. I’m in my 50’s and shop at Nordstrom’s but feel like I don’t exist to them.

    • Nancy
      July 15, 2017 / 6:50 am

      Agree 100%

      Other than handbags and accessories/maleup the Nordstroms does not really have a dept for me: a woman 60 who has disposable income (not unlimited but if I love something and its a fair price I can buy it) but too old for i.e.Halogen, the plus size is often too big and its pretty much geared towards younger women (Hello City Chic) and E. Fisher /Vince usually out of my price range. I don’t need $400.00 jackets but also don’t want 20 inch pencil skirts that are often in Point of ViewSometimes Caslon works. When they began selling JCrew they sell very few of their bigger sizes (XL and 16) Even the shoes,,,very few carried in store for fussy feet ( have P. Fascilitis) so have to order/returm over and over…I understand theses shoes are not the pretty like AGL or P. Green (wish those worked) but in store Munro is pretty much it for removable insoles. Sorry to go on… and ON but shopping can be so frustrating

    • Susan B
      July 18, 2017 / 8:35 pm

      Hi Emily, that style does not appear to be included.

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