Getting ready for NAS - lessons learned and thoughts aloud

If you remember my last year's NAS report you know that I take it very seriously. This is my 3rd year and I am trying to learn from all my previous NAS experiences - good and bad.
Because I live in Canada I don't have an easy access to the sale. Sure I can order online with international shipping and custom duties but the cost mounts up. However I am lucky enough to live 2h away from the closest Nordstrom over the border and I take full advantage of it!

These are my lessons learned from the previous years:
1. My shoe size is very hard to get and selection in the store might be pretty slim in my size. My strategy is to order everything I want to try on online to be delivered to the store, drive there, try everything on and return what I don't want. Because this happens in matter of days my credit charges don't go through before I return what I don't want.
2. Take into account exchange rate. Last year I I lost some money there because US dollar went down between my purchase and my return and I got back less than I originally spent.
To solve this problem I am charging everything on my Nordstrom card this year (I have to for pre-sale anyway). However it is a real pain to pay it off as they don't accept Canadian checks and I cannot make a direct payment from my account to the US business. I had to buy a money order and send it and it is additional cost and bother. Well, I have a solution this year - order everything on Nordstrom card online, then in the store return everything to this card and then buy what I want to keep with my Canadian VISA. Hopefully it will work.
3. I have to be more selective with my purchases. After my 1st NAS I returned almost all footwear (thanks God for Nordie's return policy!) and also gave away to my mom come clothes I did not wear that much. My second one was much better, with no returns. However I am not very happy about quality of some footwear I got. My BP Ruston boots seem pretty low quality: the leather upper got some deep wrinkles and I had to replace the heels after 5 wears as they were worn completely. I am going to be more selective this time and make sure I buy quality stuff of the utmost comfort level.
4. Some more specific points:
- don't buy any cardigans as you don't wear them much;
- don't get any more indoor blazers in thick fabric. I like my Hinge and Trouve cropped blazers from previous sales but they are very often too warm to wear indoors and their design makes them not suitable for outdoor wear: fabric is thick and warm enough to wear in pretty cool weather but they don't fasten or have very open front so it is not warm enough. As a result I don't wear them as often as I would like.
- very careful with the fit of the pants and jeans: I don't like them too tight on my hips and thighs; otherwise I can wear them with tunics only and this is very limiting.

I am trying to limit my NAS purchases to a few high quality things which are the right comfort level for me and fir well into my life style. Let's see how successful I am this year!
Do you have any NAS strategy this year or any lessons you want to share?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.

29 Comments

  • sarah replied 5 years ago

    Those sound like very sound strategies, Sveta. I hope your credit card trick works! I don't see why it shouldn't.

    I plan to try to be very minimalistic about NAS this year. I don't have as many wardrobe holes to fill this year as in years past, and I am going to try to not get too caught up in the frenzy around here and instead be very selective. I'd like some new booties and some more blazers/jackets, and then maybe one more trendy item just for fun. I am also on the look out for a new winter wool coat, so I will keep an eye open for that. I need new trousers, but am not sure that NAS is the place to purchase them.

    I also learned that many of the NAS items ended up on sale not too long after the original sale. I was surprised by that and it's something I'll keep in mind.

    Good luck to you!

  • Transcona Shannon replied 5 years ago

    I cannot say "thank you" enough for this post Sveta! This will be my first NAS and I must admit, it seems a bit overwhelming for us Canadians. I've got it straightened (thanks to Nordstrom Live Chat) on how to order for pre-select when not in the store. My understanding, however, was that I don't have to charge my purchases to the Nordstrom card but only need to have one so that I have a number. I thought I could charge my actual purchases to MasterCard....no?

    And you're right about duty and shipping. When I've ordered from Nordstrom before, I always try to be about 99% sure it's going to work because returning is expensive and a big hairy hassle.

    Sarah - you make good points about trying to not get caught up in the frenzy. I must keep this in mind!

  • marianna replied 5 years ago

    Your credit card strategy will work, but only after July 20th -- you can only buy preselect items with a Nordies card. So if you do the return/re-buy, it needs to be July 20th-Aug 5.

    Great post!

  • Sylvie replied 5 years ago

    Shannon, during the presale you must charge the items on your Nordstrom card. You cannot pay for them using any other card.

    I learned from the last year to snap up items in my size quickly. I missed out on some colors of my petite size cardigans and they sold out within a week. This year I'm going to buy every color I think I could possibly want and *then* evaluate/return.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 5 years ago

    Hmmm....don't like that. Will have to do some thinking...thanks Sylvie!

  • Sveta replied 5 years ago

    Shannon, it is not too bad to pay off the Nordie's card, just less convinient and more expensive than a regular credit card. I had to go to the teller in the bank and buy a money order for the amount I owe. I think it cost me around $10 and then I had to mail it.
    Marianna, my strategy is to order on Nordie's card on the first day of pre-sale and then go to the store after the sale starts - I need to give time for my order to arrive.
    Sylvie, this is what I have to do for shoes too - order everything and then return. Because of this international shipping is not an option for me at all!
    Sarah, it sounds like you have a solid plan in hand!

  • Amy replied 5 years ago

    I'm a little freaked out by NAS, since I've never shopped the sale. I don't think well when there's a frenzied vibe surrounding an event and I'm concerned that that might be even more the case with online shopping being available. I wonder if it would be best to do some online shopping before my appointment on Saturday...kind of like you'll be doing to make sure the right sizes are available.

  • Scarlet replied 5 years ago

    Sveta, sounds like you are ready to go! Good luck this year. I don't shop NAS because I don't want to pay the import duties to Europe.

  • jayne replied 5 years ago

    great tips. Marking this for future

  • Lyn D. replied 5 years ago

    Just out of curiosity Sveta, I thought this 'famous' sale started a while ago? Or was that what you are calling the pre-sale?

  • Mona replied 5 years ago

    What a helpful post! I have only ordered report booties from NAS so far and got them shipped to a friend who was visiting usa at the time. With the duty and taxes, most NAS items are out of my budget. I wish there was an easier way to order from Canada.

  • bj1111 replied 5 years ago

    when are you coming to town for nas?

  • Laura replied 5 years ago

    I can see why you need a strategy for NAS with all this complicated payment/shipping maneuvering involved. Nordies needs to branch out to Canada! That said, I think what you learned about your purchases makes a lot of sense. All year, I regretted returning those Aquatalia riding boots, and wound up buying them on sale from a different store this spring. I could have been wearing them all winter! Next time I won't be so concerned about splurging on one big item.

  • Janet replied 5 years ago

    Good work, Sveta! It sounds like you have a good plan.

    This will be my second time shopping NAS, and I've learned a lot in the last year and have honed my style a bit, so I suspect I won't buy as much. Last year I made quite a few purchases but ended up returning almost half after I got them home and figured out what was really working for me, and what would be redundant in my closet.

    When it comes to stores like Nordstrom who have a generous return policy, my philosophy is BBQ, like Sylvie, because I can easily return an item if it doesn't work out. Since I am an impulsive, emotional shopper, this works well. :-) I make lots of returns these days! I like being able to take an item home, try it with my existing pieces, and gauge my comfort with a piece in the comfort of my own home.

    I definitely can get caught up in the excitement of an "event" like this, so I'm going to take my time and try to relax. I don't *need* anything, really. But I will be keeping an eye out for a couple of pieces that stretch my style comfort zone a little.

  • Heather replied 5 years ago

    Sveta, you have really well thought out guidelines for yourself.

    I would like to add to your list...you have THE BEST, MOST PATIENT husband ever. I loved reading your NAS adventures last year; and how he drove with you, braved the store and endless footwear modeling! <3

  • Nadya replied 5 years ago

    I love how you think things through! My approach is a bit different this year as I did a big shop last year and don't need as much. I'm also shopping to a budget this year.

    Like you said in your other post, my main focus is shoes. Since I'm in the States, I'm going to preselect in person, but I'm not quite sure how that will work for shoes. Last year I told my saleslady which shoes I wanted to try from the catalog, but of course there are a lot more available! I'm guessing, there is a shoe area we can just shop.

    I think your strategy is sound and I'm wishing you good hunting!

  • Meredith1953 replied 5 years ago

    Sveta,
    You have really thought out your strategy! I predict that you will score fabulously with your discerning tastes and eye for quality. I hear you about cardis too. In my case, I love them but because I have a sloping shoulder it is hard to get a clean structured line with them so I wear them very infrequently. I loved NAS when I lived in Seattle many years ago. *Sniff* I wish I was there.

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    Excellent strategy, Sveta!

    Above all, have fun along the way :). And hugs to hubs! He is a STAR.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    This is great, Sveta.

    I am still debating about participating. I won't be able to join the pre-sale because I don't have a Nordie's card and couldn't get one in time. And I will probably sit out the entire sale, because of all the extra costs involved. But next year I really hope to participate and go, and I will enjoy reading all your adventures.

  • CocoLion replied 5 years ago

    Last year's NAS I purchased two tops and several items of lingerie. I kept the lingerie as I knew the exact size and model I wanted (purchasing duplicates). I returned the two tops. Not because they weren't fab, but because I could not get my head around fall items in July. In retrospect, returning the navy top was a mistake. It was inexpensive and flattering and I would have gotten a lot of wear out of it, come mid-October or at least November. The Joie silk top I might have been able to wear a little earlier, but I'm glad I returned it as it was simply too long on my small frame.

    Regarding the returning items purchased with the Nordstrom card: I understand you lose your points when you return items. But if that is not a hindrance, then your return and re-purchase makes sense Sveta.

    Angie -- Marianna -- you guys have influence at Nordstrom, maybe tell them they need to make it easier for Canadian customers to pay? Like, accept Canadian checks. Or, allow to set up autopay with a bank account.

  • Jenava replied 5 years ago

    I made a spreadsheet model that maximized my "utility" (i.e. how much I like an item) and keeps me within budget. I've only got catalog items on there right now, but it will help me prioritize what to try on...it's likely that some of those items won't be available by the time I can shop, so in that case I can re-run the model and move on to the next item...(-:

  • Sveta replied 5 years ago

    Lyn, NAS starts nest week for pre-sale and then on 21st for everybody. Nordstrom had a half-yearly sale in May and June which Angie posted her picks for: you maybe confusing this one with NAS.
    Mona, I hear you as a fellow Canadian. I am lucky to live so close to Troy's Nordstrom in MI that it is only 2h drive for me to get there - the same time I need to drive to Toronto.
    Laura, i maybe getting into the splurging mode too this time. I mean I can buy 1 super fab thing instead of 4-5 mediocre ones, right? Now when my wardrobe holes are almost all filled up I can be more selective. Those BP boots really got the message home for me about quality and how much it means for me...
    Janet, I don't see anything wrong with buying, trying on at home and returning if it does not work: I do it all the time. My problem is that my Nordstrom returns require a 4-5h trip over the border so I have to be pretty ruthless in the store with what I want to keep.
    Heather, I agree with you 300%! He is my best "accessory" ever!
    Nadya, that's why I am doing online preselect now: this way I can see much more that what is in the store and consider everything.
    Meredith, cardis just don't fit inot my current style well: I don't feel as fab in them as in jackets. They are useful for casual wear though.
    Suz, I hope we can do it next year!
    Denise, even if I loose points it does not worth keeping: I would pay the same amount for money order to pay my bill with anyway plus all this hassle. Thank you for feeling for us Canadians!
    Jenava, this sounds like a very cool scientific approach! I wonder what are your three top items from the catalog are...

  • Lisa replied 5 years ago

    Sveta I'm with you approaching my third NAS as well and looking at the sale with new eyes. The first year I was overwhelmed and purchased lots of items on a whim and ended up with lots of wardrobe orphans. The second year I purchased a lot again and returned a lot, but knew more about fit and was picker with what I kept so I ended up with less wardrobe orphans that year. But again I did not shop with a plan or a list. And I tried to view the sale as my time to stock up for the season. But my season and myself run quite cold and the second wave of winter clothes works better for me because it's more longer sleeves and heavier fabrics than some of the NAS selection which often has shorter or 3/4 length sleeves for many items.

    My plan this year is to pick up a few select items in good quality and to stick to my color palette of my current wardrobe. I have my wardrobe holes and my list already devised: 2 maximum of premium denim jeans; 1 pair of skinny or straight leg in a dark wash and one pair in a fun color if I like the fit, 2 maximum of pullover sweaters that will layer (ie not too bulky) (I too have purchased one too many cardigans in the past and I layer pullovers much easier with my blazers), 2 maximum footwear: a mid calf or shorter flat heeled boot in a dark color (black or dark brown) and a lighter color (grey or taupe) (boots are workhorses for me and even though it's summer in the a/c I find myself wearing lighter colored boots right now), 2 pairs of replacement running clothes, 3 replacement bras and another bottle of the lingerie wash. I am open to a fun item not on my wish list but need to pay attention to the sleeve lengths (must be long sleeves) the colors (cool based especially blues are best) and how I can or cannot layer the item for our cold winters. I've learned I don't wear skirts so I won't even look at those this year and dresses are hard for me to find so I'm always on the lookout for one that fits well for work meeting. And I must stay away from outerwear this year, as I do not have any wardrobe holes in that area.

  • velvetychocolate replied 5 years ago

    It will be so much easier if/when Nordstrom opens up in Canada - I'm still kind of hopeful about that, given that some very fab Sears locations in the best malls/cities in Canada are closing ...and that apparently Nordstrom has been looking to move into Canada for awhile now. We'll see what transpires. If I hear anything in this vein, I'll be sure to post it here to YLF. (I tend to keep an eye on these things).

    In the meantime - what you're doing makes a lot of sense Sveta, especially considering that you have a hard time finding good shoes in your size (no higher than 2" and can walk to work in etc.). Much better to have the shoes all shipped to a store that you can drive to, try on, and then return the rest (while you're there) that don't work out.

    My Mom has also had to do some serious finagling in terms of shopping too - she's very tall, slightly plus-sized and has a *tough* time finding clothes/shoes that work for her in Vancouver. She's ordered from a few US retailers with good luck (Talbots and Lands End), but Macy's and Nordstrom aren't very good at all when it comes to shipping to Canada.

    Meanwhile, I agree with what you're saying about focusing in on the shoes and jackets. You can always get cardi's locally if you want them, but some nice jackets and shoes/boots? These are the types of things worth shopping the NAS for, imo. Also agree on avoiding too-thick and/or knit type blazers. Go for a really special tailored jacket if you see anything that you love.

    Geeze - the pre-sale hasn't even started yet and here we all are - never mind summer...onto the NAS. :)

  • MNsara replied 5 years ago

    Sveta, I bow to your shopping strategy and savvy!! :-)

    This will my third NAS too, and I should take your cue and think hard about what wasn't so great before. . .so I don't repeat mistakes. I've ended up returning lots of NAS purchases, and not being over the moon about some of what I kept. . .

    I certainly have a much improved wardrobe in these two years, so less 'needs'. But that means finding those keys pieces to add gets even a bit trickier, I think!

    sarah was right about things going on sale within a month or 6 weeks after NAS ended. I remember seeing the same prices show up and it STILL wasn't even cool enough to wear most of them!

    Re: shoes, I just took a 22-y.o. relative (from Norway!) to the Mall of America today, and she wears size 12 or 12.5 (42EU)so I took her straight to Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. She needed dressy low heeled black closed toe pumps, and the ONLY comfortable pair was a $345 pair of AGLs that the 12.5 would have to be sent to her from Chicago. . .unbelieveable!! So, YES, you must grab every last pair with any potential while the gettin' is good!!!!

  • Jenava replied 5 years ago

    Sveta, so far it's a Givenchy tassel necklace and the pumpkin overcoat. Opinions differ on the third item, between the nude lace Chantelle bra and the DV by Dolce Vita navy loafers. I just bought some loafers at the Rack, so the bra is inching ahead. (-:

  • Megan replied 5 years ago

    The other way that you could deal with the Nordies card issue is if there is someone you trust in the US who could pay the card for you, you could paypal them the funds (send as a personal payment then the fee is only 1% as long as you use a bank account/paypal balance).

    A friend did this for me recently with a banana republic card that needed to be paid.

  • Sveta replied 5 years ago

    Lisa, I am glad I am not the only one making mistakes at my first NAS :-)
    VC, it will be a big celebration if / when Nordie's opens in Canada.
    Sara, I sympathize with your young relative: I know only too well what pain it is to shop for shoes in my size! This is one of the reasons I want to take advantage of NAS. If she stays with you longer maybe she can try it too?
    Jenava, that necklace is a stunner for sure. I had my eye on that overcoat too because one of my holes is a midi coat but I am afraid it won't be long enough for me. I was also thinking of Steve Madden loafers from the same page as your DV's...
    Megan, thanks - that's a great point!

  • clearlyclaire replied 5 years ago

    Sveta, it's so interesting to read about your NAS sale strategy. It sounds like you're learned a lot from the past ones and that makes your chances for success very high! I'm not planning on participating in the sale, but I can understand the pressure of having to make an important decision on your feet. Every time I go to Last Chance, it's like that, as there are no returns, period. And all of the frenzy makes you afraid to lay something back down, in case someone else snaps it up. It's crazy. At least no one can snatch the items you've ordered for yourself. I hope you find some great footwear and that your decision about what to keep is clear. You've certainly done your homework! ;)

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