Confession: I Shopped the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this Year

Exactly a year ago today, I wrote a post titled “Why I’m Skipping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.”  This has become one of the most popular posts on my blog, probably because so many people search for the term “Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.”  In a nutshell, the post outlines the five reasons why I decided to sit out what had been my favorite sale for many years.  My decision to avoid that “holy grail” of sales was a big turning point in my recovery process, although I’ve clearly experienced a number of ups and downs since that time.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

So I shopped the sale this year…. (image:

Fast forward a year…  I have a confession to make.  This year, I did shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, or NAS for short.  While that may seem like a bit of a “backslide,” so to speak, it’s not necessarily that black and white.  In today’s post, I outline why I shopped the NAS this year, what was different about how I approached it this time around, and what I still need to learn and improve before I revisit this sale next time.

The “Sandwich Method”

I’m going to present this post by means of what has been termed the “sandwich method.”  I was a member of Toastmasters International, a public speaking organization, for many years.  Anytime a speech was given at a club meeting, another member would present a spoken evaluation.  We were taught to use the sandwich method as a means of giving an effective and constructive critique.  In essence, this process involved stating some positive feedback at the outset, then outlining areas in which the speech could be improved.  The evaluation would conclude on a high note, with the evaluator affirming a previous positive statement or offering additional praise of some element of the speech.

I’m going to use the same process to recount my Nordstrom Anniversary Sale shopping experience.  I have a tendency to be extremely hard on myself and focus excessively on the negative.  Forcing myself to adhere to the sandwich method will push me to highlight the positive elements to a larger degree than I might do otherwise.

My Reasons for Skipping Last Year’s NAS

In my post about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale last year, I gave the following five reasons for sitting out the sale:

  1. Fall is months away (the sale focuses on fall merchandise).
  2. My priority list should be what guides my shopping.
  3. I returned most of what I bought last year.
  4. I already have too many clothes!
  5. Why should I shop on Nordstrom’s timeline?

For more details about each of the above reasons, go back and read last year’s post.  I still stand by each and every one of those reasons.  Shopping NAS in previous years was mostly an unproductive experience for me.  I bought too many things just because they were on sale and/or caught my eye as being pretty or stylish.

All too often, those pieces sat in my closet unworn because they were off-season and didn’t suit my casual lifestyle.  Because Nordstrom has such a liberal return policy, I was able to mitigate many of my losses, but some items had been altered and could no longer be returned.  Many of those garments gathered dust until they were either consigned or donated months or years later.  Not a very smart investment on my part!

Weighing My NAS Options This Year

Weighing the options

To shop or not to shop… that is the question.

When the sale approached this year, I considered my options.  I could sit it out once again or potentially use it to my advantage.  What if I were able to find some items on my shopping priority list at NAS?  What if those pieces were things that I could wear now instead of many months later?  I ultimately decided that if I could find items that met those criteria, it could be smart for me to shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

I have to confess that I browsed the sale online just after midnight on the first day of pre-selections for cardholders.  Although I had cancelled my Nordstrom credit card in early 2013, I enrolled in their debit card option toward the end of last year.  With this option, the money I spend is deducted from my checking account, so it’s much easier to keep tabs on how much shopping I do, as I update all of my transactions in QuickBooks on a weekly basis.  In the past, I wouldn’t update my credit card accounts until I received my bills, so I was often floored by how much debt I’d accrued during the previous month.

What Was Different – and Positive – This Time Around

So I browsed the sale offerings in the wee hours of the morning (I usually stay up that late anyway), but I did not buy anything at that time.  I took the wise advice of Jill Chivers and used what she has termed the “power pause.”  I opted to wait until the next day before clicking the buy button for any of the NAS items.  I didn’t even add anything to my shopping cart, as I wanted to review the site with fresh eyes the following day.

When I did purchase sale items late on the first day of the sale, I made sure that they all met actual identified gaps in my wardrobe.  With the exception of one item (a warm jacket to wear on my evening walks), I also ensured that everything I bought could be worn now – or very soon – as opposed to months from now.  It’s far too risky to buy things for later or “just in case,” as our style preferences evolve and our lifestyle needs change.  What we thought was a wise buy can often end up being money thrown down the toilet, as it were.

Why I Shopped Online Instead of in the Store

Online shopping

Sometimes shopping online is the right choice.

I feel it’s important to explain why I shopped online instead of in the store.  Not only was I able to explore the various offerings from the comfort of my home, I also avoided unnecessary pressure from Nordstrom sales associates.  In previous years, customers had to make an appointment with a salesperson in order to pre-shop the sale.  This salesperson would either pull items upon the customer’s request or accompany them as they browsed the various sale offerings, which were typically housed in a cordoned off area.  This year, things were a bit different and no appointment was required, but I wasn’t aware of that fact when I first browsed the sale items.

Anyone who has shopped at Nordstrom can attest to their exemplary customer service, but it can be a mixed blessing for shopaholics (read more of my thoughts about this issue here).  We can often feel compelled to buy things we’d otherwise leave in the store simply because a sales associate gave us so much time and attention.  Shopping online allows us to avoid such pressure and take our time with the decision-making process.  Of course, not being able to try things on can lead to a lot of returns, but I felt it was the better option for me this year.

I later ended up shopping the sale in person this past weekend, as I went to return the bulk of the items I bought in my first online order.  Most of what I had ordered didn’t work out, so I outlined some other pieces to assess in person.  What helped me to avoid sales pressure in the store was to basically refuse assistance.  When a salesperson asked if needed help, I’d simply say “no, thank you.”  I also turned down offers to start a fitting room for me until I was finished gathering the items I wished to try on.  I didn’t take up much of any sales associate’s time so I wouldn’t feel at all guilty if I left empty-handed.  While I did end up making a few purchases that day, I didn’t feel obligated to do so because of any assistance I had received.

Now for the Downside

So I shared most of the positive aspects of my NAS shopping experience this year, but there are some negatives to report as well.  I have two major criticisms of the way in which I shopped the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this time:

  1. I spent too much time browsing the sale items online.
  2. I purchased too many things.

I’m embarrassed to write that I made three separate online orders from Nordstrom and I shopped the sale once in person.  While I have already returned the bulk of my first online order and will likely return a lot of the other pieces I purchased via the website, I still spent too much time and money shopping the sale.  While I didn’t lose myself in the experience like I used to and my brain was running the show instead of my emotions, my goal is to shop less often and expend far less energy on the process overall.

There were definitely some elements of escapism in my NAS shopping this year and that’s not something I’m proud of.   I was again exhibiting the type of avoidance behavior that I wrote about in “The Reasons We Shop Too Much.”  Rather than facing and dealing with the unpleasant situations in my life, I was avoiding them and focusing my attention instead on shopping.  Old habits can die hard, so I won’t beat myself up too much for this.  It’s just good to be aware of our behavioral tendencies so we can address them and make better choices the next time we’re faced with similar circumstances.

Buying too much and having to return

A familiar situation and feeling I’d like to avoid! 

At this point, I don’t know how much I spent on NAS purchases or how many of them I will keep.  Some of the items will end up being birthday presents (my birthday is just over two weeks away) and some will be applied toward my clothing budget and item limit for the year (gifts don’t count toward either of these restrictions, but I don’t receive very many gifts).  I may need to make some difficult decisions and do some course-correction in order to remain on track to achieve my shopping and wardrobe goals for 2014.

Ending on a High Note – The Silver Lining

As I’ve written in previous posts and in response to readers’ comments, recovery doesn’t occur in a straight line.  Rather, there are lots of ups and downs and hills and valleys.  Sometimes we take three steps forward and one step back, and sometimes it’s one step forward and three steps back.  But if we look at the overall trajectory of our recovery process over time, we can often clearly see we’re making solid progress.

I don’t pretend to be perfect or to be completely recovered from my compulsive shopping problem.  While I’ve made great strides, I am still struggling in some aspects of my recovery.  I still make purchasing mistakes and I still have times when I devote too much time, attention, and money to shopping.  Perhaps I wasn’t fully ready to dive into shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale again.  Maybe I should have sat it out another year in order to give my recovery more time to solidify.

But I did shop the sale and there were both good and bad aspects to that experience, as I highlighted above.  While I definitely bought too much and immersed myself too fully in the process, I didn’t go crazy and I didn’t let my emotions run the show.  All of the items I bought were in line with what was outlined on my shopping priorities list.   Although I saw lots of other pieces that caught my eye, I didn’t add them to my shopping cart or try them on when I was in the store.  Instead I used the “art gallery method” recommended by Jill Chivers.  I allowed myself to admire and enjoy beautiful clothes without feeling the need to take them home with me.

Once the dust settles and I decide what I’m actually going to keep, I will share my NAS acquisitions in my next accountability update.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll also let you know how many items ended up being returned to the store.  I don’t always include that information in my updates, but I think it’s important this time around.  It isn’t easy for me to spill the beans about my shopping, but I remain convinced that the truth shall set me free – and it has.   I believe that the honesty and vulnerability I’ve committed to in this blog have played a very important role in my recovery thus far.   I definitely plan to continue the same openness you’ve come to expect from me here!

Another Perspective and a Thank You

I’m not the only one writing about shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.  Lisa of “Shopping Brake” recently posted an interesting retrospective of how her shopping at this sale has evolved over a four year period.   Clearly, she’s also made excellent progress in the way she approaches what she termed her favorite sale of the year.  She has not yet shared her actual experience of shopping the sale this year, but I look forward to reading that recap soon.

I’d like to thank everyone who congratulated me on the recent Real Simple feature about me and my journey (called “Spent,” on page 158 of the August issue).  I know that some of you who would like to read the article have not yet been able to do so.  I’m working on getting online access to the feature so I can share it on the blog, or at least permission to share a PDF version here (like I did with the article I wrote for “Complete Wellbeing” magazine).   I hope to be able to post the article very soon – stay tuned.

Please Share Your Stories of Recovery

In addition, I would love to be able to feature more of your experiences in my “Stories of Recovery” series. We’ve already heard from Lisa and Terra, who have had very different journeys but were equally eloquent and inspiring.  You don’t need to have been a full-fledged shopaholic in order to share your story.  If you’ve learned to shop more consciously and wisely and/or have cultivated a wardrobe that works for you, we’d love to hear from you, too!

Your story can be long or short.  You can be anonymous if you wish or link to your blog as Lisa and Terra have done.  The important thing is to add new perspectives to the mix and inspire each other along the way.  If you’re interested in contributing to the “Stories of Recovery” series, please contact me.

81 thoughts on “Confession: I Shopped the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this Year

  1. By saying you had gaps in your wardrobe to fill, it automatically turned the key to let you shop the sale. Not busting your chops here, but just who you trying to convince that you are a recovering shopaholic? You could be on to something great here, but are doing very proactive things to sabotage yourself. It’s like the gal who loses a boatload of weight, becomes famous for it, slips back into old habits, re-gains all the weight, then fades back into obscurity.
    Sure everyone has slip-ups, but by enrolling in the debit card program at Nordstrom, you essentially kept a pack of cigarettes “for just in case”.
    Taking a giant leap here…but after reading thru your posts…could you just be really really bored?

    • I think the key word here is “recovering.” I think Debbie’s journey is one of recovery. It might be easier if she said, “I will never shop again.” That would be the end of it. Not much recovery in evidence there.

      Instead, I think she, like many of us, is trying to change her relationship with shopping. We will probably always need to buy clothing. We just don’t want it to be the focus of our lives. We want to find a balanced life that includes mindfully purchasing things we need and enjoy. I think buying high quality items that you need (by having identified gaps in your wardrobe) on sale is a sign of real recovery! It is far different than her behavior 2 or 3 years ago.

      Recovering doesn’t mean “recovered.” It implies a process. The process of recovering from any addiction is often not linear. There are ups and downs. But each “mistake” helps you learn. I think Debbie has proven that she wants to learn from her mistakes and move forward. To me, she is a shining example of a “recovering shopaholic.”

      Thank you, Debbie, for consistently being vulnerable and sharing yourself with us. It gives me courage to know that I, too, can recover in my own way at my own pace and that this blog is a safe place to share my struggles.

      • Thank you for what you wrote, Anne. I think you said it better than I could! My first thought when reading Jane’s comment was that I am RECOVERING, not RECOVERED. You pretty much wrote what I was thinking and I appreciate your insights, as well as the thank you at the end.

    • I see little compassion or understanding in your post, to be honest Jane. Wondering what you want to gain by coming here.
      Debbie, I was on a No Buy July and doing great until we got concert tix for a show in a few weeks and I found I didn’t have the appropriate thing to wear. My normal choices did not account for outdoor FL summer temps. So I broke my shopping fast today with a skirt bid on eBay. I really, really wanted to say I did the month Scott free. But suffering in leather in 90+ temps just to say I did really didn’t make sense to me. And so I caved. WE are human. Works in progress. I’m continuing the month out hanging tough. I have some other items I want, but not with the time deadline this item had. I’m learning when it’s a need vs a want. Learning is good! 🙂
      I’ll be interested to see the breakdown of your NAS post. What was a need, what was more of a want, whether on ‘the list’ or not. And when you figured out which were which.

      • I was wondering about Jane’s motivations for coming here, too, Mo. I am definitely not above reproach and I appreciate when readers question and challenge me, but it’s usually done in a much more compassionate way.

        I can understand your rationale for breaking your “No Buy July.” It wasn’t done for a frivolous reason, but for a practical one. I have faith that you will finish out the month without buying any additional items. Like you, I am also learning the distinction between need and want. It’s not always easy to tell the difference! I will definitely do a breakdown of my NAS purchases. I may even do a separate post about it rather than just include it all within my accountability post. I’m experiencing a bit of a “shopping hangover” at the moment and feeling some buyer’s remorse. A lot of what I bought will likely go back, even though most of it meets real defined needs. I just need to continue to exercise moderation in my buying and it didn’t feel like that with the NAS shopping.

    • You could have taken a lesson from the sandwich method Debbie explained in her post. 🙂 I think you make a great point, that identifying wardrobe gaps is kind of a double-edged sword because while it provides focus, it also justifies shopping that may not really be necessary. But there are less hostile ways to offer that observation. (I would note that “not busting your chops, but…” is essentially the same as “no offense, but [insert offensive statement].” It doesn’t magically neutralize a hurtful statement.

      RecoverING is not the same as recoverED, and personally I identify more with Debbie knowing she occasionally has struggles and setbacks, because I do as well.

      • Thanks, Cara. The sandwich method really does go a long way toward helping people be able to deliver constructive criticism without being offensive. You’re right in that the point about wardrobe gaps was a good one. It can be a bit of a slippery slope because what we need can be quite subjective. But what is the alternative? Never shop again? We have to muddle through, make mistakes, learn from them, and do better next time. That’s what I’m trying to do…

    • I understand the points you made regarding Debbie’s choices. Identifying wardrobe gaps DOES imply purchasing clothing. And opening a debit card/linking a card DOES allow for easy spending. There are negatives AND positives in each choice. A particular item could help other items get worn because it was the missing link, and linking her card was probably done in order to get a better discount. Your point is true- both choices could contribute down the shopaholic path Debbie is working on leaving.

      I didn’t really like your phrasing either, but because it came across more critical than it did as encouraging, observational, or to provide discourse. It’s not that we don’t discuss the bad as well as the good- but this is a nice, supportive place and it’s not the intent to take people to task for their mistakes- the intent is to encourage further growth.

      • Good points, Meli. I addressed the wardrobe gaps above in response to Cara. In regards to the debit card, it really isn’t all that different than using my bank check card (the money comes directly out of my checking account in both instances), but the extra discounts associated with the card can be problematic. I am seriously considering cancelling that card, as I don’t really need it and I think having it made me shop more.

        I’m glad you think this is a nice, supportive place to discuss our challenges related to shopping and our wardrobes. I’d like to keep it that way! I appreciate you and others stepping in to help in this regard.

    • Identifying gaps is not a step in the wrong direction. On the contrary, it signals a measured and careful approach to shopping. It can’t be compared to, e.g., alcoholism, because its not possible to go ‘cold turkey’ and never shop again, ultimately we all need new clothes at some point. I’m quite certain that what Debbie is demonstrating in this post, with its total honesty and self awareness, shows real progress.
      I find sales are my nemesis, with a limited budget and love of good quality its really hard to resist ‘bargains’ – a kind of panic sets in, that I may never come across such a good deal again. I’m slowly learning to take a ‘power pause’ before buying. I’ve lost a few things because I didn’t buy straight away but, you know, I managed just fine without them.
      Thanks for the fabulous post, Debbie

      • Very well said, Alice. While some people benefit from taking a hiatus from shopping (as Jill Chivers wrote about in her wonderful guest post here), we will all need to shop again at some point and will need to learn how to do so wisely. Sales can be my nemesis, too, as you read! The power pause definitely helps, but we can still get tripped up at times. I’m glad you liked this post!

    • I think that statement about Debbie being bored is rather unkind, Jane. Debbie puts a great deal of her time into this blog, as well as she just wrote an e-book. I don’t think she really has time to be bored.

      • Yes, that one stung a bit, Deby. I don’t think boredom has ever been a big part of my problem, but I definitely have a lot to do now and never struggle to come up with ways to occupy my time. These days, I would usually rather work on the blog and related projects than browse online for clothes and the like. I think that alone show progress!

  2. I loved your last year’s post, which provided a welcome respite from every blogger’s list of recommended purchases, complete with links. For some reason, there’s a lot of pressure attached to this sale (which I had never heard of till I started reading blogs–no Nordies in my area). I can understand why you succumbed–luckily, Nordies has a fantastic return policy, so you have time to consider your purchases.

    • I’m glad you liked last year’s post, Frugalscholar. I enjoyed re-reading it in preparation for this post. I think the reason why there’s so much pressure attached to the Nordstrom sale is that they have sales so infrequently. Thus, there is a sort of scarcity and exclusiveness attached to them. The Anniversary Sale is their big “Granddaddy” of sales and there is always a lot of buzz around it. I’m glad that Nordstrom’s return policy is so good. I’ve already returned all but one item from my first order and will return 2 or 3 of the 4 items in my second order. I had better luck with the items I bought in person, but that’s to be expected. When it’s all said and done, I don’t think the damage done will be all that great (but I still spent far too much time on it!).

  3. Debbie, it sounds like you did well using various strategies to keep the over shopping to a minimum (if that makes sense!). I don’t think I would have done so well. I’m actually glad that Nordstrom’s overseas shipping charges are too high for me to consider ordering from them!
    Now my turn for a confession. After putting myself on a shopping hiatus for this month and next, I ordered one item of clothing. It’s something I had searched high and low for last month to fill a nagging wardrobe gap and had basically given up on, but I came across something that, at least online, appears to meet my criteria perfectly (of course I won’t know for sure until it arrives). While it would have been good to be able to say I went a whole month without shopping, I’m not beating myself up about this because I think it was a purchase made for the right reasons (assuming I keep it).
    Anyway. I’m looking forward to reading you next accountability post when the dust has settled on the NAS.

    • It sounds like your rationale for breaking your shopping hiatus was much like what Mo described above, Kayla. I think there are sometimes good reasons for breaking our own rules and changing plans, but the danger is that we can be crafty in coming up with convoluted logic for doing so. It doesn’t seem like that’s what you did, but I have done that many, many times. I hope the item you ordered works out for you. My online NAS orders have been close to a wash thus far, but I pretty much expected that most of them wouldn’t work out. That’s part of why I ordered so much. If all of them would have fit me well, I would have had an even tougher time in working it all out! Recap post to come soon and may be separate from the accountability update.

      • Debbie, you’re right about making up convoluted reasons to purchase things. I’ve certainly done that in the past! My order arrived, and I wore it yesterday. I’m very pleased with it, but it does mean that I’ve officially broken my shopping ban. I just hope this doesn’t open the floodgates, so to speak. I haven’t had much urge to shop, but it’s getting harder with autumn stock starting to appear in the shops.
        I try to look at online shopping as trying things on. Of course many of the things we take in to the fitting room aren’t going to fit us. The main thing is that we’re ruthless about returning what we don’t need, which it seems you were.

      • I’m glad you’re happy with the item you ordered, Kayla. You’re wise to be concerned about opening the floodgates, though. Just being aware should help you to better stay on track. I like you view of online shopping as trying things on. I tend to look at it that way, too. I prefer to buy things in the store, but some things are hard to find in the brick-and-mortar shops. Both types of shopping can be frustrating and come with their individual problems, but if we are aware of what they are, we can better face them and deal with them appropriately.

  4. Debbie, your forthright NAS confessional prompts me to make one of my own: Although I had a specific plan for NAS (replace two worn out bras and purchase a top in one of my recently identified “best colors”) things didn’t exactly go according to plan. After setting an alarm for 2:00 a.m. when the sale went live in my area, my first foray onto the site was reasonable. I bought the two bras and top I had on my list, and added a great scarf that incorporated all the good colors in my new palette. The scarf has actually helped me get unstuck on some color issues I’ve been fretting over since having my colors professionally analyzed, so it’s not part of the problem – well worth the $30 sale price! Things went great until the sale opened to the public, and all the bloggers posted their favorite picks. I found myself back on the site three times and ended up buying the same skirt in two sizes (intending to return one,) a waterfall cardigan, two pairs of boots (intending to return one color,) a makeup brush by Ita that has been out of stock for months, several pairs of shoes, more scarves (if one is good, four is much better, right?) and a cashmere sweater. It was only when I went on-line to make a payment on my Nordstrom account that I realized when all this stuff ships, I will have over-limited my account. Obviously a huge fail on my part, and completely preventable. Now I am trying to logically assess what I can justify keeping; I’m thinkingone pair of boots that was going to be my Christmas present to myself, and the cashmere sweater – both were close to half price and will be wardrobe staples. The boots were my last planned purchase for 2014 and I usually buy a cashmere sweater in January half price, so those somewhat fit the plan. For some reason, the item I’m having the most trouble returning is the stupid makeup brush, which was recommended by a YouTube makeup tutorial on contouring as the best ever contour brush. I do not currently contour my face, and could probably live the rest of my life without doing so, yet I am insanely attached to the idea of scoring this brush because it has been out of stock for months. Did I mention it cost $55??? Just typing this, I realize it has to go back. I also feel really attached to the gray boots. What am I afraid will happen if I only have black boots, or have to get by with the pair of gray ankle boots I bought at the end of last season??? And why am I trying so hard to justify any of these purchases? The collective wisdom of your posts and the readers on your site will continue to help me work through these issues, as I am starting to realize this is a bigger problem than I was willing to admit. I’m trying to make my new mantra one from Danielle LaPorte’s Truth Bombs; very simply “Don’t buy it.” Thank you for continuing to share your journey, in spite of the occasional snarky comments. You are helping so many of us make constructive changes in our relationships with shopping and with ourselves.

    • “I do not currently contour my face, and could probably live the rest of my life without doing so, yet I am insanely attached to the idea of scoring this brush because it has been out of stock for months. Did I mention it cost $55??? Just typing this, I realize it has to go back.”

      Isn’t it amazing what just writing out our thought process can do? I, too, have had impulses like this, and when I reason it out it becomes so clear that the thing I am obsessing over actually has no place in my real life.

    • Your online NAS shopping experience kind of sounds like mine, TexasAggieMom. I wish I would have just done one order and left it at that, but those blogger picks can be enticing, can’t they? I did well in using the “power pause” and sticking to my list, but it was still just all too much. I’m glad you figured some things out while typing up your comment. Sometimes I figure things out while writing blog posts! I’m intrigued by what you wrote about Danielle LaPorte’s “truth bombs.” I will have to check that out. I like yours!

    • One of the things I’ve noticed about most fashion blogger’s NAS picks are that they are rarely appropriate for a 9-5 office jobs. They are either fun and flirty things to wear out to see and be seen, or are appropriate for their non-traditional work environments. This greatly helps me with ignoring most of their suggestions. Several bloggers included workout gear in their must-haves, and as a new attendee of PureBarre, this was hard to ignore!

      I, too, also shopped the NAS this year, for the first time. I was quite restrained, purchasing a new North Face denali jacket to replace my worn-out one, as well as a NF pullover fleece. The fleece was impulsive and not necessary, but at least I a) recognize that, and b) it’s something that will be used frequently and fits in with my wardrobe color scheme. I will also probably purge something similar to avoid have multiples.

      I think being aware of your tendencies if half the battle. Keep on keepin’ on, Ladies, and haters to the left!

      • Good point about the NAS picks, Melissa. I think that in general, most fashion bloggers highlight more fantasy or aspirational items than things that will work for our real lives. Of course, there are some exceptions, but your observation is pretty right on. I’m glad you had some luck with your first NAS experience and were able to only buy two things. It sounds like those were good picks for you and your life (even if the fleece was an impulse buy). I was tempted by the North Face jacket, but ultimately decided it wasn’t something I needed. Good for you for purging similar pieces now that you’ve purchased some good replacements!

  5. I have a new mantra ‘no online shopping’ It means that I have to put myself out to go and buy something, try it on, see if I love it and it makes my heart sing or go without. Online shopping is too easy, too addictive and makes me feel bad.

    I’ve only ever shopped online twice and both times the items were dreadful on. I would have put up with them but I decided to send them back – what a hassle to recoup my spend.

    As for sales, I will now only buy if I would have paid full price for the item. That way it’s a bargain. Otherwise it’s just more potentially sub-standard stuff that I have accumulated.

    As for those taking bite-sized pieces out of the author, it strikes me that it’s too easy to put people who are doing well on a pedestal and be disappointed when they falter or wobble. She’s just human, she’s doing her best. She’s chosen to do it publicly so you can learn too
    Have an amazing day Debbie! Thanks for sharing your continued struggles, I’m sure a lot of us identify with your recent purchases.

    • You’re right that online shopping can be problematic, Saltbox. I haven’t had a lot of success with it actually, unless I’m buying something I already have or something I’ve previously tried on in a store. I often have to buy things online because I’m tall, but I try to get to a store and try on the regular version whenever I can. I had a good reason (or so I thought) for doing the online NAS order. I thought there would be more pressure to buy in person, but they seem to have changed the way they are doing the sale and I wouldn’t have needed the special appointment required in previous years. I wrote a few previous posts about shopping sales and your probably saw them. I think we should never buy things JUST BECAUSE they’re on sale. That’s a recipe for trouble! Thanks for what you said in your last paragraph. I don’t understand why some people see the need to be so critical and harsh. I like to be questioned and challenged, but there’s a right and a wrong way to do that!

  6. Congratulations-you recognised that you didn’t want or need the bulk of the items and returned them, so didn’t add rubbish to your wardrobe. Sounds like success to me.

  7. I totally DISAGREE with the mean-spirited comment from Jane. At least I took it to be mean-spirited. Debbie, you’ve come so far in your journey since last year! And this recovering from shopping is definitely a journey. I think any one of us who’s in this situation can attest to that. There will continue to be slip-ups and fails, but that’s life. We just do the best we can. While we’re confessing, I broke my July-Dec fast but I think it was totally necessary. I developed plantar fasciitis in my right foot and could barely walk, probably from going barefoot so much. Doctor said I needed to wear very supportive shoes all the time. On his and a couple of bloggers’ recommendation, I bought a pair of Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed sandals. I already had several pairs of very supportive shoes and sandals but I wanted something that I could just slip into easily so that I would actually wear them all the time. These fit the bill. My feet already feel much better. So now I’m back on the fast and hopefully will succeed until next year. Like I said before, this is a journey and nobody is perfect.

    • KimM- PF is a terrible thing to deal with, so yes supportive shoes are a must. When I suffered with PF I used one of my daughter’s larger sized bouncy balls to roll my feet on whenever I was sitting. I also slept in a Straussberg sock which did wonders. Good luck!

    • I thought Jane’s comment was mean-spirited, too. I’m very happy that others have stepped in to respond to her. I’m very fortunate in that most commenters are very respectful, even when they disagree with me or challenge my actions and motivations.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your plantar fasciitis! I have struggled with that condition on and off myself (it was the worst after I did the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk in 2003), so I know how painful it can be. I think it’s totally reasonable that you bought a pair of shoes in which you could comfortably walk. I’m reminded of what Courtney Carver says about Project 333: “It’s not an exercise in suffering.” And neither should a shopping hiatus be that. I have faith that you will end the year without buying anything else (but I will love you no matter what!). I hope your foot feels better soon! Sallysue gave you some good suggestions to try, along with wearing the Birkenstocks (which are en vogue this year!).

      • Thanks so much, Debbie! I appreciate your faith in my shopping fast. You should know that I and all your regular readers will love you no matter what also!!!

    • I’d argue that a doctor’s medical recommendation is a legitimate reason to make a purchase. I have spent the last 6 months overhauling my shoe collection due to a broken ankle in December. It’s turned out to be an extremely expensive process as I’ve been selective about my shoes, picked things I’ve loved (one pair of panic black flats aside), only to wear them a few days and realize they aren’t going to cut it long-term. Birkenstocks have been a god-send tho. I have two pairs now, one work-appropriate black and one super casual pair, and they get worn every day. I wear the Florida softbed myself! I hope they work out well for you as well!

      • I know you went through a lot with your broken ankle, Melissa. I’m glad you have found some shoes that are working well for you now. It can be a process to find comfortable shoes and it’s been expensive for me, too (I have various foot issues), but it’s so wonderful to be able to walk for hours in shoes without being in pain!

      • I picked up a pair of those Dr. Scholl’s “custom” inserts from CVS this weekend. You go in, get on the measurement machine, and it will tell you which number insole (out of 8) to buy based on various foot measurements. I wore them that evening in my Tieks, and the $55 insoles (cheaper on Amazon, will purchase there in the future) are worth it just to be able to wear flats I love and spent a lot of money on (a worthy purchase) for more than 10 minutes at a time again. When you finally find the right combination, it’s like your feet are in heaven!

  8. I think Jane was just making a constructive observation, that may have been phrased badly. I think Debbie should take it that way. I have greatly curtailed my shopping by putting the same restrictions regarding shopping that Saltbox did. I have to try it on!!!! To many things look good on line, even on a hanger. This has forced me to take a critical assessment of how things drape on my body. Even with alterations, which are not guaranteed to make a garment work, as you stated in your post. I also approach selection with a list, just as I would grocery shopping. All this to say I’ve come a long way but not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I view this blog, Debbie, as a journey, not a destination. If I can glean gems from your experience great. Thanks for being honest and transparent.

    • Jane’s comments were harsh and insensitive. Through her negative assessment, she did make a criticism that could be turned into a constructive suggestion: close the door by closing the credit/debit card. Use cash only. There will always be something to buy. The deals are better at the end of the season.

    • I agree, Kathy, that we should always try things on. I try to do that as much as possible and if I do order things online, I always make sure it’s easy to return them if necessary. I think that catalogs and websites use too many tricks to make the clothes look good and often things look fitted when they are not.

      In regards to the debit card, I’m seriously considering doing what Lisa suggests. I thought the debit card would be very much like just using my bank check card, but there are some differences and I do feel more tempted to shop. Also, the accounting is difficult because a bunch of transactions all get bundled together and it can take me a long time to decipher it all, especially if I’ve made a few purchases and returns within a few days of each other. With my bank debit card, each transaction is posted separately and it much easier to track. I don’t need to be able to pre-shop the NAS. I can shop the public sale if I choose to shop it at all. Better to keep things simple!

  9. I don’t know Nordstrom or the brands well enough to shop the sale myself, but had this sale been for my favorite store I could identify completely.

    My favorite store had a one day 50% off the highest priced item when your order was $150+. I used the opportunity to order new arrival items that were priced at $150, $160, and $170 respectively. I would have had to wait several months (and hope my size lasted) before the items I had been admiring would have gotten to an affordable price. I’m now waiting for them to arrive to assess them and decide to keep or return. Anyway, the bad part- I did not NEED what I ordered, I just really wanted them. This also puts me over the budget target for the month because I already had purchased 3 items earlier this month, though I can afford it without a worry this month.

    I do have a shopping addiction, and I’m working on it one step at a time. I’ve gotten really great items this year that I use very frequently and feel great in- a complete 360 from last year, when I got 2x as much and very little worked out for me. Progress is progress and I am much more mindful than I ever have been, and I have less than 1/2 of the items I owned last year.

    Debbie- THANK YOU a thousand times over for inspiring me to better myself and my life, and for being so open and honest and such a great writer.

    • You have definitely made a lot of progress this year, Meli! I’m glad that my blog has helped to inspire you along the way and I appreciate your kind words. In regards to sales, the stores know how to get us to buy things we don’t need. Or they convince us that we really DO need those things. I don’t think it’s bad to sometimes purchase wants, but it all has to be done in moderation, which has been a difficult state for me to attain. Maybe when the items come you can select just the very best one to keep, if any of them are worth keeping at all. I think I’m going to have to make similar hard choices, but it’s good practice for us – and we can do it!

  10. Debbie, thank you for sharing your personal journey with us. Your honesty and vulnerability are what keeps me reading and working towards my own goal. I don’t think anyone here is a ‘yes-man’, just teammates who want to see another mate succeed.

    • Thanks, Sallysue. I don’t view anyone here as a “yes-man,” either. Quite the contrary, in fact. Many readers question and challenge me and I find it helpful. I don’t want people to placate me, but I do hope that the comments that will be made will be respectful. Fortunately for me, most of them are.

  11. NAS is a crazy thing. I used to work at Seattle’s Flagship Store (store #1, where the Nordstrom family worked upstairs and were frequent customers in every department – where you better make sure you have your customer service skills honed!) Many people in Seattle took the first days of the sale off from work, and ran up the escalators first thing at 7am when the doors opened… that was back before priority/early access became officially allowed. It was pure mayhem for staff and customers, and the money that flowed that first week was mind blowing. NAS is Nordie’s Black Friday. There was one associate I remember sold $19k of women’s clothing on the first day (at 10+% commission). We barely got any sleep setting up the night before and the best salespeople would be ringing up pre-sales all night then working a 10-12 hour day with a 1/2 hr lunch. In high heels. It was pure insanity and still gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
    I never understood wanting to get the Fall clothes before anyone even knew what would be “in fashion,” but getting things you needed at 40% off made a lot of sense. So I have often shopped the sale for bras, coats, and fine jewelry (getting diamond earrings at barely above cost with an employee discount is a smart move IF you “need” them). I am not in any way a shopaholic but I have been caught up in the feeding frenzy that is the NAS. There’s a time limit, very limited availability, a glamorous but frantic atmosphere that makes even non-shopaholics go into a bit of a panic. If a shopaholic can go into that sale atmosphere and not go overboard it’s an achievement.
    And the thing is, it’s a really good sale. It’s a lot of good quality items with very good prices. I bought a few things that were on my list as “gaps” in my basic wardrobe. I had decided not to, but I took a break and reconsidered. I realized it would make sense to try them and decide whether they are really things I want/need or if they are just fantasy desires. The chambray shirt that Everyone seems to have may not be so appealing once I try it on. As long as I just think about it I can feed the fantasy obsession that it will fit and look cute and go with all the other fantasy wardrobe pieces, but once I have it in my hands I have to face reality. I’m not sure if button down shirts work for me. Ditto shorts. Ditto silky fancy tops. We shall see.
    Anyway, I think Jane’s comment about keeping a pack of ciggies just in case highlights the difference between shopping addictions (and food addictions) and other addictions like smoking – you can give up smoking and never do it again, but you will always have to wear and buy clothes and eat food in the future. You have a daily trigger that you can’t avoid, getting dressed, so you have to manage it the best way you can. Some people might find blogging about something increases their obsessiveness about it, but I think maybe it helps you think through and channel your (necessary) thoughts on what to wear and what to buy in a way that seems helpful in the long run. And I’m sure other shopaholics find it valuable to hear about your strategies for dealing with an event like this that looms large in a shopaholic’s mind. At the end of the day you can evaluate what worked and what didn’t and make a plan for next year. 🙂

    • It must have been interesting to work at the flagship store, Joanna. I worked at a store in the San Francisco Bay Area and one of the Nordstroms was the store manager. That was a bit stressful at times, but he was very nice. That was back in the late-80s (yes, I’m that old!) and I don’t remember NAS being that crazy back then. I think it’s escalated over the years in its craziness! I think one can take advantage of such sales to buy needed items at a lower price, but I don’t think that’s what most people actually do! I have seen a lot of frenzied shoppers, as I used to always shop the first day of the sale in person.

      Your assessment of the sale and shopping addictions was very astute. You’re right in that getting dressed is a daily trigger just like eating is a daily trigger for those with eating disorders (and I struggled with those for many, many years). I think blogging has helped my compulsive shopping problem more than it’s been a trigger. But if I had a style blog and posted daily outfit photos, I know that would make things much worse! Fortunately, I never had the aspiration to write such a blog and I certainly know I’m not trendy or stylish enough to do so! I will stick to sharing my journey and I’m always happy to learn that my posts help others. I will definitely do a NAS debrief once all of the dust settles, as it were.

      • All of the Nordstrom family that I met seemed very nice. They would show up in the store all the time. You never knew when an elderly well-dressed gentleman would walk by and it would turn out to be Mr Bruce, Chairman of the Board. The sons were very tall and smiling and well dressed too (as you would expect!) I helped Mr Bruce’s wife with baby clothes at least once, and one of the son in laws a few times. They are very decent people with a lot of respect for their staff (they consider the customer to be the boss, the floor staff the next most important, and Mr Bruce is the bottom of the ladder – a good way to run a business). Nordies was my first job in the US and it was quite the education. I agree that things have gotten crazier in recent years, even just since my time there from 2003-2005ish.
        I’m glad the blogging helps 🙂 Looking forward to your debrief. I managed to get a great pair of much needed shorts. Wore them today. The blouses were a FAIL. The chambray shirt is still a big maybe… I walked past the Seattle store today. Wasn’t even tempted to go in.

  12. First, the Anniversary Sale at Nordstrom is extremely inviting and almost invasive. If you look at anything online now that item keeps popping up on Facebook, other sites…tough to ignore! Even though we have a lot of clothes, a few updates are necessary each year. Preferably shoes and boots in my book. There are a few new silhouettes to explore and colors to try. I find if a style or color I like is “trending” , Iwill pick up a few pieces. I figured I saved a bundle by avoiding the peplum trend (not my favorite) and the neon trend (most definitely not my favorite). The fringe trend is back and I picked up a pair of tall DVF black suede boots with fringe running up the back. LOVE THEM and have worn them regardless of the trend. This year I am looking for a leather black fringe scarf. Last fall there was the fig/cassis color I always loved and I picked up a few pieces before in that yummy color before heading off to Paris–where I found a pair of earrings to match! If a style or color is “in” grab it! You are updating and enhancing. I am not a minimalist. I am not obsessive about editing, but make sure everything is wearable. I still have clothes from my 20’s (40 years ago) and they are worth their weight in gold.

    I have not purchased anything on sale for Fall. I have purchased a few things I put in my shopping bag from last fall (gorgeous and hideously marked down), last spring and this summer. I have watched these items for awhile.

    More gorgeous fall clothes are coming. I will choose a few pieces to buy now full price and put the rest in my shopping cart and wait until the markdowns. My purchase for the fall may be a made-to-order pair of Manolo’s leopard calf-hair pumps. Now, that is worth waiting for and it keeps me from buying now what I would prefer to have later.

    It is ironic that I cope with my over-shopping by promising myself some gorgeous item later!

    • You have a great plan!

      I’m not a fan of ‘designer’ items in general- I like great brands and buy much more ‘high’ than ‘low’, but never have paid above $250 for an individual item. I don’t have the need or the want. I’m also in the tail end of wardrobe rebuilding. I had a child a year and a half ago (changed sizes- though not dramatically, the fit was affected on many items though it could be that my standards have changed more than the actual fit), and began building up a more professional wardrobe. Also, last month I started a new job in a more professional office than my previous one. I have a list of about 40 items I own that I want to replace and a couple I want to add, which makes me hesitate when I think about going cold turkey. I can’t wear those pilly sweaters to work! But buying pretty dresses is more FUN than sweaters- I need to reign myself in and follow my plan.

      • ugh- I meant to make a point. I meant that I feel like your type of plan would be perfect for me once I get my wardrobe in good shape, but it’ll take time. But I can’t promise myself one expensive item in place of shopping more because I really don’t want or need it lol!

      • Yes, my strategy works for an already well developed wardrobe. I have retired with a host of events I attend: luncheons, cruises, opera, plays….. I also paint, knit, and I’m tackling a new language (French). I attend events at the Alliance Francais. So, I am on the other side of wardrobe building.

        Purchasing a designer product for the sake of owning a designer brand has always been a ludicrous practice (in my view). However, purchasing a designer because of a certain aesthetic that they reflect, quality, timelessness.. that is different. I despise labels. Hence, you will not see a label on my chosen purchases. The quality and design must speak for themselves. Now the reason for Manolo’s. The Manolo company (made in Italy) offer custom made shoes–you choose heel height, toe box, width. Not all of their designs can be custom made–just the classics. I do not choose the shoe for the label as one is not prominent anywhere on the item (similar to Balenciaga a few years back). There are no red soles to distinguish it from other brands that let others know how much they spend on a pair of well designed shoes (or not). Paying for quality for a well designed and well executed item is a luxury I can afford–if I don’t overspend in other places. I do not have a need to overspend as I have a gorgeous, not minimalist, wardrobe. It is not about need anymore. It is about want. I just need to laser my want list to one or two objects each season. If I need something for a trip–or experiment with a silhouette, I will occasionally add a couple of items (particularly if they have made it through the the season in my shopping cart and are heavily discounted). We each need to find ways to adjust our spending to our lifestyle, so it enhances rather than causes stress and guilt.

    • Great discussion here. I had the same thought as Meli when I read your comment, Lisa. I hope to get to where you are within the next couple of years, but I’m still undoing the damage of my shopaholic ways and working to build a wardrobe that is in line with my real life, not a fantasy lifestyle. I hope to just buy a few pieces each season like you do and aim for very high quality items. I can definitely see your rationale for buying the custom Manolos. I once watched a show that showed how shoes are made and highlighted the differences between lower and higher quality shoes. Ever since then, I’ve been more willing to spend more on shoes, especially since I have fussy feet. Nothing in the range of Manolos yet, but I did buy a pair of AGL shoes earlier this years and they are working well for me.

      Meli, we are on track to adopt Lisa’s plan before too long! We just need to keep the faith and keep doing what we’re doing. We will get there!

  13. As I’m reading your post, I’m chuckling to myself. I have a Nordstrom credit card, which I use with fair regularity although not to excess. I’m sure they have asked me to verify my email address several times. Yet I have never received notification of this massive sale either by snail mail or email. Somehow I slipped through the cracks! I wonder if its because I don’t shop at the mall Nordstrom’s, but at Nordstrom Rack. Interesting…perhaps because I shop at Rack and don’t spend a targeted amount, I am profiled as being someone “not worthy” of receiving notification. I didn’t even know about this sale unless I read it on your blog. And I didn’t realize until today that it was to preview fall clothing.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you purchasing things which fit into your wardrobe goals.

    • A few minutes later, I just perused the Nordstrom site. Am still amazed that I didn’t know about this sale before. Not that I was moved to purchase anything today, but if I was, this would be the time to do it, especially on leather bags (my weakness, I confess). But still–I was not moved to purchase a single thing….

      Now I’m thinking that maybe if you are of Nordstrom cognoscenti, you already intrinsically “know” when this sale occurs and don’t “need” to be notified. Nordstrom is a relatively new retailer to our area, we had SFA back in the early ’80’s. For years I only knew Nordstrom as a west coast retailer because my California friends shopped there.

      I confess that while I have strolled through the mall Nordstrom here, I have not purchased anything. Its all just a bit too slick for me…it doesn’t feel genuine on some level. The salespeople seem more fawning than friendly. Maybe not all Nordstrom stores are that way, but that’s my experience of ours…although I do enjoy eating at their restaurant.

      • Deby, I also have a Nordstrom Visa and didn’t get any notification of the sale. Shopping at the Rack is part of it, and their rewards cards have different levels of membership so that if you spend over $x you get invitations to private shopping events and exclusive offers (and free alterations). I never spend anywhere near that much, so I just get the occasional rewards payment and that’s it. I can’t imagine spending that kind of money. But yes, there are some people who know (in their bones) that the sale is in late July-early Aug, and if you’re a regular shopper it’s likely you’ll get a catalog or see a poster or get a call from a salesperson in the weeks prior. btw in an ideal Nordies the sales staff should be friendly and helpful above all, but I’m afraid the company’s ideals don’t translate in every market… (the east coast staff I talked to were horrible!) Visit store #1 in Seattle! where it all began. 🙂

    • I don’t receive the sales notifications, either, but I did receive the catalog in the mail. I also don’t spend enough at Nordstrom, believe it or not, to be in even the second tier of their membership (you have to spend over $2000 per year to get there – I spend that much probably, but I also return a lot!). I just know when the sale is and I see lots of bloggers write about it. I also visit a fashion forum sometime and it was all abuzz about NAS. It’s hard for me to resist the temptation to shop the sale, especially since I have such a large fear of missing out (FOMO). I’m working on that!

      Good for you, Deby, for not being tempted to buy any of the NAS items. That shows great progress on your part! I was a lot less tempted than in previous years and stuck to my shopping list, but I had to remind myself that many things were just ill-advised for my life.

      Joanna, your point about the Nordstrom sales associates is a good one. I have seen a lot of variation in the customer service I receive at various stores and from various associates. I’d love to visit store #1 someday, but I don’t know if I will do it during NAS!

  14. Hi Debbie, I am most definitely not a shopaholic. I don’t even always like to shop. But for some reason I am drawn to your blog. I live in the Buffalo area, where we do not have great stores; the nicest being Lord and Taylor. And even they have inferior merchandise compared to their stores in larger demographic markets. So, since moving here many years ago, shopping has become less and less important to me. However, once in awhile I buy clothing for a life I wish I had, rather than the life I do actually have. But over the past few years, I have kind of stopped shopping for clothing unless I need something. I actually much prefer shopping for my home (another type of problem!) And I hate shopping online, I need to see, smell, touch and try on anything I buy. So here is my advice, move to a rural area, where there are hardly any stores to begin with, no one to see or judge what you wear, and you could be steps closer to helping yourself shop less. Just kidding. Think you are an amazing writer, and I give you credit for being so candid.

    • Thanks to Sherri for summing up my shopping problem in one perfect sentence: “However, once in awhile I buy clothing for a life I wish I had, rather than the life I do actually have.” This summer I am slightly thinner, so I have invested in a summer casual wardrobe that could take me on a three week vacation with no outfit repeats. I have gotten some good deals using coupons and rewards, but I still have SO MANY new summer clothes, the majority of which still have tags on them. They are hanging neatly, just waiting for me to take my imaginary vacation (not likely as long as I’m caring for my elderly mom) or for some fabulous date I haven’t yet met. My real life needs suits for work, comfortable shoes, and running gear, with a few dresses for church and weddings. My imaginary life requires a much more versatile wardrobe. Is it possible that it’s not the clothes I want, it’s the kind of life that would require them??? Thank you for providing me this epiphany – excellent food for thought!

    • I love both of your comments, Sherri and TexasAggieMom! I lived in the Lake Tahoe area for a year and a half and I shopped a lot less during those years. There just aren’t a lot of places to shop there and I lived there in 2001-2002 before online shopping was anywhere near what it is now. There were a few local boutiques, but they were usually overpriced and I had to drive close to an hour to the nearest mall. But if I lived there now, it would likely be a lot different with so many online retailers offering free shipping! I agree that it’s much better to shop in person, but I have done my share of online shopping, too.

      The point about shopping for real life versus fantasy hits very close to home. I don’t need a whole lot for my current real life, as it’s very casual and pretty low-key. So much of what I bought in previous years (less so this year) were for “just in case” or for an imagined life that I might have. I think that I wanted to have that life, too, AggieMom. But if we want a different life, we have to work on that first and then shop for any additional clothes we might need for that life. I’ve tended to buy the clothes and then do nothing to cultivate the lifestyle that goes with them. Yes, it’s some very good food for thought!

  15. Hi Debbie!
    It’s interesting you say that you may not have been ready and needed to sit out the sale another year because as I read your post I thought to myself, “this is what happens when you don’t permit yourself to shop. Like any diet…then you binge!” Do you think maybe that could have played a part? It seems like you’ve done such a great job at restricting yourself that you went a little crazy with the sale (after all 3 online and 1 in person shopping trip is a lot even if you didn’t end up purchasing ANY items right?) I think in a previous post you said you may give yourself a little leeway with the amount of items you buy. I think that sounds like a good idea! Isn’t the point of recovery to learn how to shop smarter and love your wardrobe? I think you are doing just that! Also, this is my first year shopping the Nordstrom’s sale and I absolutely loved it. There were so many amazing items I wanted to purchase…but did not. I stuck to what I really needed only. I ordered a pair of black riding boots and a large tote for commuting. I’ve come to accept that I’m a working girl in NYC (my everyday dress basically consists of work clothes that can be dressed up or down). Although I was proud of myself, I have to say that reducing my wardrobe size has caused me to be a little self conscious. For example, instead of automatically buying a dress for a party or an outfit for a meeting I “shop my closet” first. Along with looking at outfit ideas/color combos on Pinterest and keeping only items that are an 8 or higher, I have really been able to create so many new looks. I never wore the items I DID own in any way other than how I originally paired them. The problem is now I get complimented everyday, literally. I don’t want my coworkers to think I am miss money bags! They are the same pieces just worn in different ways. Also, I probably look more put together because they are pieces I truly love, fit me great and are versatile. I may have less clothes but I can see what I have and feel so much better about my wardrobe. I don’t want to give off the impression though that I’m being irresponsible and spending all my money on clothes because in fact the opposite is true! I have bought a lot of new items recently (as I’m filling gaps in my wardrobe) but I also am shopping SO much smarter. Any thoughts on this?

    • Interesting perspective, Millie. I think there is some truth in what you wrote for me. I am still learning how to shop moderately and I was a bit too ambitious with my item limit for the year, I feel. I think I was starting to feel like I won’t make it anyway, so oh well. Of course, that’s not really a good attitude to have! I can instead recalibrate if necessary and set a new goal, but I don’t know if I’m really ready for having no goals or limits at all.

      It sounds like you’re doing great with shopping your closet and putting creative and beautiful outfits together. I think we can often dress BETTER with fewer items in our closets. I wrote an early post on that topic, in fact: I really did think my stylish co-worker who I wrote about had a huge wardrobe, but she just had a carefully curated wardrobe, which it sounds like you have. I think that if you are close to people, you can share with them about your journey. But you probably don’t want to share this with everyone.

      I know it’s hard, but I think the key is in caring less about what others think and just doing what’s right for you. Does it really matter all that much if your co-workers think you shop all the time? If they’re really observant, they will notice that you are re-mixing pieces. If they comment, you might want to think of how you want to respond, but really how you dress and how much you shop is really nobody’s business but yours (and maybe your significant other, if you have one). As long as you are dressing appropriately for your job, how much you spend on clothes is none of your co-workers’ business. Of course, I know this is easier said than done and I still worry too much about what others think, too. But it helps to remind myself that this is my journey, not theirs.

  16. You know what words popped into my head when I read that you shopped the NAS? “Good for you!” I know the 3 online shops and 1 in-person trip may be a bit much. But like with eating recovery (you still have to eat), we can’t NOT shop ever again. I think facing the NAS is a good thing – you’ve already outlined a good strategy previously for when it is appropriate to shop sales, so I think it was good to try that out. I think there comes a point in recovery where shopping can be scary – for instance, me, I bought 2 pairs of pants earlier in the year because I had gained weight. I’ve now lost it again (yay!) so now as I have recreated those gaps in my wardrobe (and other pants are wearing out), I need to go shopping again. But I’m a bit scared in case I end up doing a massive shop. My reasons may be different (wardrobe gaps instead of “had a bad week at work” or whatever) but still. I’ll have to do it eventually, just as I think you had to tackle the NAS at some point! So you slipped a bit. That’s OK. As you say, recovery is not linear.

    • How interesting that you had that reaction, Sarah. I love that you came to comment on that, as it really made me think. You made a very good point in that I do need to face NAS unless I want to give it up altogether, which I don’t. I just want to learn how to shop it responsibly, and I think I learned some good lessons this year that will help me next time around. I can recover the financial damage of shopping too much at NAS (anything can be returned), but I can’t get my time back. But I CAN learn from it and I will. Congrats on your weight loss! I can understand your worry that you might shop too much as a result. Planning ahead and having a list should help with that. But just like I can make returns, so can you if needed.

  17. Jane,

    I hope you will return and be open to hearing what Debbie and her community of readers have to say. My desire to connect with others who are also committed to reducing the amount of clothes we buy and wear, led me here to Debbie Roes and “Recovering Shopaholic.” Debbie’s honesty, her kindness and willingness to share her story about her shopping habits and desire for change, along with the wealth of reader comments, provides me with a community of women and men who are candidly talking about clothing and shopping issues I identify with. Now that I have reached my goal of cultivating a small wardrobe filled only with items I love and wear regularly, I must constantly keep myself in check, and not allow excess to creep into my closet. However, I’m wondering what you are seeking and are hoping to find within this blog? You did not tell us any of your story.


    Good post. Thank you for once again being wholly honest with us and for sharing this episode. We are here to support you on your journey towards recovery and you have made some great gains in the past year.

    I also did not shop the sale last year, and although I did tour Nordstrom a few days ago, I didn’t buy anything. Didn’t see anything I need that was on sale. I did find an item (at full price) I’ve been wanting for the past couple of months. So I’m thinking that I might as well wait until the sale is over if I’m going to pay full price anyway. Or maybe the wait will give me pause and I won’t buy it after all. All I do know is that I love this community of readers gathered here, and your stories and readers comments continues to remind me that I never ever again want to have a closet stuffed with tons of clothes. Thank you everyone for your honesty and insights.

    • I appreciate your kind words, Terra. I’m not sure what Jane’s motivation for coming here was, but she is welcome to comment again if she can be more positive and respectful. I am totally fine with people questioning or challenging me – and learn a lot from the introspection I do as a result – but her comments (I deleted a second one) felt like they were attacking me unnecessarily. I am willing to give her another chance, but I’m not sure if she will be back. I hope she finds what she’s looking for somewhere.

      I’m glad you liked the post. I definitely feel the support from you and others in this community. I know that others learn from my sharing the hard times as well as the triumphs. Shopping the NAS was a bit of a challenge for me, but I have learned from it and I know I will share more in future posts. Congrats to you for not buying anything at NAS, especially since you didn’t see anything you need. I think our definition of needs vs. wants evolves over time. I think I still classify some wants as needs, but that’s happening less often. I think it’s good to wait a bit to see if something we think we need ends up being a passing want. You set a good example for me and for others!

  18. I was glad to read everyone’s comments. I have said before that I love this blog because it is so honest and supportive. I don’t think that everyone is going to say Ooooooo wonderful if you buy 12 black coats. You’ve been “called out” before. I know I’ve done it myself. There is a way to do it that will encourage change and growth and a way that will make someone just feel like crap. I know what option I’d prefer.
    Thank goodness I’m not really a Nordstrom shopper! I have already bought twice as much this month as I usually do. I can imagine what would happen if you added an event like this to my spending. There are so many ups and downs to this process. I know that both of us are doing better this year than we did last year. If someone is the type of person that can set their mind to something and just do it and never make mistakes then I said good for them. I am truly glad for them. That is definitely not me though! I screw up on a fairly regular basis. The thing that I try to keep in mind is I have been continually improving and that I desire to keep getting better. That is enough.

    • You’re right, Tonya, that there are good and bad ways to call people out. Fortunately, most people here do it in a good way and it DOES encourage growth. I think perhaps you’re lucky you’re not a Nordstrom shopper! I love that store, but the NAS sure can be triggering and tough to navigate. I’m sure it will be easier next year. I think most people have ups and downs on the path toward recovery. Yes, some can just decide to change and it’s all a smooth road from there, but that’s really the minority (and yes, more power to them!). I agree with you the as long as we are continually improving, that’s enough. It’s not a race, after all.

  19. Thank you for being so honest and real. It makes the rest of us shopaholics out here feel so much less alone and imperfect. I can really relate to your trouble with the Nordstrom sale. Although, I don’t purchase items from Nordstrom, my favorite (I mean FAVORITE) brand is having its massive once-yearly sale next month and I’m already struggling with it. I don’t think I can sit it out, but I’m worried I will go crazy. I know if I sit it out, I will just be stalking ebay and Instagram to find the sale items from other shoppers. But, if I do shop, I’m worried the flood gates will open and I will go beyond crazy. Why is this compulsion so difficult?!? It seems so all or nothing sometimes…

    • I found myself wondering what your favorite brand was, Chelsea. My fear of missing out (FOMO) kicked in and my first thought is that I need to check out that massive sale – LOL! Probably good you didn’t name names… I understand your feelings about all or nothing. It does get easier with time, but as you can see, there are relapses or more challenging times. Could you possibly set a limit for how much you’ll buy at the sale, at a maximum? I wish I would have done that with NAS, in terms of either dollar amount or number of items. Since we’re trying to learn to shop more moderately, setting limits BEFORE entering a tricky situation can be helpful. Best of luck to you! Maybe shop with a buddy (who’s not a shopaholic) and let them support you, if you decide to go to the sale.

      • FOMO is definitely real. I worry about it with some of my favorite stores or brands. This sale that is coming up I know I cannot just skip. If I did, I would be going crazy trying to make up for it in other ways and feeling so left out. I like your idea of setting a maximum buy amount… I think I will do that. If I set it now, I will have plenty of time to get it in my head before the sale and will be more likely to stick to it. The sale is an online sale only, and is definitely one that I tend to go overboard with. It’s funny how you said you felt you needed to check out this sale I have been talking about… The shopaholic in us can be so strong. I really admire where you are at in this struggle and your honesty about your feelings and compulsions. I hope to be able to do better… It’s tough. There is just so much temptation.

      • Thanks for your kind words, Chelsea. I know this is a tough time for you and I really get how hard it is to miss out on a compelling sale. That’s why I suggested a compromise between sitting it out and going for broke. I truly wish I had set more limits for myself with the Nordstrom sale. While it’s true that we need to order more things online because a lot of things don’t work, I could have done just ONE order and ONE visit to the store to make returns and see what else was there. As it is, I did THREE online orders and THREE visits to the store. It’s just all too much and it felt hollow to me. I know better now, so I have to DO better, too. I wish you all the best with the upcoming sale. Planning ahead will serve you well. You may still buy more than you wanted, but I guarantee you’ll do better than if you just enter the situation blind.

  20. Jane,
    Taking a giant leap here… but after reading your comment… could you just be really really miserable, bitter and insensitive?

    I’m sorry you had to suffer such rudeness, particularly when it’s immediately obvious from reading your blog how sensitive and respectful you are, ie how undeserving you are of such insolence. Try not to be bothered by it, you are far above such meanness. On a related point, I’m not in favour of people being apologists for ‘Jane’ by attempting to distil some spurious ‘constructive’ points from her comment. It’s not what you say but how you say it, and the ill intent was clear from the disrespectful tone. Let’s not sugar coat it.

    Your post and subsequent comments are precisely on point regarding the non-linear nature of rehabilitation.

    I work with people addicted to alcohol and other drugs – not directly as to the addictions but as to their aftermath, I’m a criminal lawyer. The fact that rehabilitation (from anything) is a non-linear process is a stock standard submission and a well understood reality. Anyone involved on any level with addiction understands that the multiple attempts made at rehabilitation are part of the overarching process, not failings along the way to one ultimate success.

    On a side note, I’m also a shopaholic, as you know, and on that front I can personally attest to the continual challenges. If it was easy / if I could just stop and not be bothered by it, I wouldn’t be a shopaholic. Your writings are of great assistance to me and give me a huge feeling of solidarity, as does the usually warm and thoughtful community you have developed here. Thank you.

    • I really appreciate the wonderful support from you and others, Tia. It can be hard when someone is very critical in a comment, but the overwhelming empathy and kindness from others has far overshadowed it. I try to be as honest as possible here on the blog and that means sharing the downs as well as the ups. That is the way recovery works, as you pointed out. I don’t feel like a failure because I had some challenges with NAS. Rather, I’m trying to learn what I can from the experience so I can do better next time. I realize I need to have better supports in place and a concrete plan for navigating sales and other shopping challenges. As I learn new things, I am always happy to share them here in the hope that they can help others. I’m glad to hear that my writing has been helpful to you in your recovery process.

  21. I went into my local city today. I didn’t have anything specific in mind yet wanted to see what was available. Everywhere I went there were sales and hoards of people piling hoards of clothing into baskets. I took a look around, tried on 20 random items – top, a jacket, trousers and two skirts and left empty-handed. I had some lunch, went to catch the bus home and decided to go back and get the one item I loved but thought was too expensive. I thought long and hard about it first though. It’s a Jigsaw ‘winter gingham pencil skirt’ in ‘my’ colours navy and grey and despite the price tag (£98) I love it. I will wear it year in year out with navy or grey sweaters/jackets and I’m so glad I ‘allowed’ myself that one thing. Ordinarily I would have bought all 20 things home and taken 19 back in two weeks! I’m learning a lot visiting here 🙂

    • I love this story, Saltbox! It speaks of true recovery. I think it’s great that you left the store empty-handed and after using the “power pause,” returned to get the one item you truly loved. We are much better served by buying one expensive piece than a bunch of cheap items that we’re buying just because the price is low. I hope you enjoy your new skirt! I’m glad this blog is helping you along the way.

  22. I also shopped NAS this year. And in the past I have made many mistakes for this sale, mostly because I get overwhelmed and pressure myself to make good purchasing decisions for items I need months from now. This year I painstakingly assessed and planned my shopping for the sale, and I am going through those steps in a series of posts on my blog. It is very difficult to run into a sale during recovery, because it is so easy to slip into old habits. And I also ordered a lot of items from the sale to try out. More than one was a ‘let’s just try it’ piece which is always dangerous territory. And I probably spent far too much time preplanning what I was going to purchase. But overall, I did purchase less to try, and I kept less than in the past. Even DH noticed a difference. So the baby steps continue!

    • I’ve enjoyed reading about your NAS planning strategy on your blog, Lisa. I look forward to seeing what you actually ended up buying. It seems like you were well-prepared this time around. I thought I was, too, and I DO think I did better than in previous years. I just wish I didn’t spend so much time and energy on it. It made me feel like more of a shopaholic again and that didn’t feel good. But the knowledge I gained this year will lead to my doing much better next year, I feel. I love how you wrote about your progression with the sale. It was inspiring to read about your journey, as it mirrored my own.

  23. NAS propaganda alert: While in Nordstrom’s today to return most of the items I overspent on last weekend, I saw sale signage that stopped me cold in my tracks: “The more you find, the better you feel.” SERIOUSLY??? I am so proud that my immediate reaction was more “NOT TRUE – YOU LIARS!” than “Yeah, I would probably feel better if I found a great deal at this sale.” I credit this site and our ongoing discussions with my having a more appropriate reaction to this overt suggestion that shopping makes it all better. As Lisa said, “baby steps,” but still steps in the right direction!

    • I didn’t see that particular sign, Aggie Mom, but I did see a few others that made me sick to my stomach. That one is really the worst, I think! I think so many retailers push the idea that things will make us happy or lead us to feel fulfilled in our lives. As a major consumer for many years, I know that just isn’t true! I can understand why they market in the way they do, as it works, but it feels slimy and sleazy to me now that I “get it.” The fact that we didn’t resonate with Nordstrom’s slogans show that we are moving forward, slowly but surely!

  24. Thanks for linking to my post Debbie! I had to break up my NAS experience across a series of posts, because it was so long. I also shopped online first, then in person when I made returns to the store. I purchased more online than planned, because I wanted to ‘try out’ items. But I ended up keeping only items that fit in my style goals and (most) needs from the list I created. I had one or two mis-steps (I did keep more than I pre-planned) but it was a much more successful experience this year than any prior years. And my fall/winter wardrobe, looks much more cohesive than it has in the past (which will show up in my last post on NAS). And I also browsed a lot online before I shopped. The first pass was curiosity. The second pass was wishlisting. And the third pass, which is when I ordered items, was to fit my shopping list or items that curiosity was really strong (mostly for a wildcard item). One thing I did not do this year, was set a NAS budget. Did you have one?

    • I was happy to link to your post, Lisa. I look forward to reading the final installment on your NAS shopping this year. I think it’s great that you had two passes of the website before you hit the “buy” button. That’s pretty much what I did, too, but still bought too much! I did NOT have a NAS budget, but I should have. I definitely plan to do that next year and I may even set an item limit for myself for NAS, too. I’m going to post an update on what I bought at NAS soon, either as part of my July accountability update or separately. I’m happy with what I got, but not with how much time and energy I put into the whole thing!

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