I Tried On 42 Cheap Basics at Nordstrom—I Would Buy These 18 Right Away

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(Image credit: @katcollings)

We love an editor try-on story here at Who What Wear. Whether our editorial staffers are testing the latest and greatest for spring in our Great Try On series or an editor is trying on Saks's latest hits, we spend almost as much time snapping mirror pics as we do sitting at our computers. We figure it's a fantastic way to serve you authentic shopping content, and we are happy to fill our camera rolls with research for you, dear reader.

Today's subject is affordable basics from Nordstrom. I may have taken a little leeway with the term "basic," as some of these items lean more toward being basic with a twist. But rest assured, my picks are versatile and relatively affordable, with all 18 ringing in at under $100. Additionally, I thought I'd infuse some reviews from Nordstrom shoppers to add a second point of view. You'll see those sprinkled throughout, as well as a new section at the end featuring a small fraction of the items that didn't make the cut. I figure knowing which items are less than stellar in real life can be just as valuable as picking out the winners. Start scrolling to get to the cream of the basics crop at Nordstrom.

Would Buy

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The Prettiest Top in the Land
(Image credit: @katcollings)

You know when you put on an article of clothing and it A) fits perfectly and is B) comfortable? That's this top. The silky material is super soft, and the ties hit at just the right place. I think this top could easily pass for $300, and the delicate ties are so pretty. What's not to love? 

I'm wearing a size extra small here and found it is true to size. 

PS, in all the photos, I'm wearing reusable nipple covers, which I've come to love way more than a bra. They give me the confidence to wear any top without worrying about if my bra is showing. They also happen to be on sale at Nordstrom right now. You're welcome. 

Similar Picks:

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Toteme Dress Dupe
(Image credit: @katcollings)

Wow, this dress is an absolute gem. The top part is a thick ribbed tank material, and the skirt is made from cotton and has a lining that adds nice volume. Most importantly, there are pockets. Pockets!

I usually sleep on navy, but this dress just reminded me how lovely it can be—in the same comfort zone as black, but just a bit more lively. I'm wearing an extra small here, which works for me even though my hips are more of a size small because the skirt is fuller. I'd say it runs true to size. 

Similar Picks:

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The Blazer That'll Get You the Raise
(Image credit: @katcollings)

Please meet my ideal blazer for spring and summer made of breezy cotton. I love the very subtle tonal stripes. They add dimension and visual interest without making the blazer any less versatile. The lapel shape is perfect, and the tortoiseshell buttons complete the warm-weather vibe. 

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(Image credit: @katcollings)

 A little close-up of the striping. I'm wearing a size small, which felt true to size if not slightly oversize. 

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The Reformation Dress Dupe
(Image credit: @katcollings)

So, Reformation has an extremely similar dress for $278, but this Wayf one is a third of the price. Both have removable spaghetti straps and a smocked back, which is ideal for getting the perfect fit. The Reformation version has more layers on the bodice, but for the cost, the Wayf dress is clearly the winner. 

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(Image credit: @katcollings)

I'm wearing a medium here, which explains why the bodice looks a bit big on me. I'd say it runs true to size.

Similar Picks:

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The Insanely Flattering Dress
(Image credit: @katcollings)

I'd never tried Naked Wardrobe before and was honestly blown away by the material, which is incredibly thick and stretchy. I love how it hugged my curves and molded to my body. The rich brown color is gorgeous in person, too. 

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(Image credit: @katcollings)

I tried on a size large because they didn't have any other sizes and was so surprised when it fit. I would have ordered this in a medium, a size up from my normal size. I completely agree with Nordstrom's fit recommendation to order a size up. The only other element to note is a slit in the back would have been helpful, as it does restrict your legs a bit when walking. I assume they kept the leg opening narrower to achieve the hourglass look, but consequently, it's not a dress you can walk too quickly in. 

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The Perfect White Tank
(Image credit: @katcollings)

At $20, this tank is a steal. It's very soft and on the sheer side. Once again, my reusable nipple covers came in the clutch creating the most seamless, invisible look! Between the thick binding and the racer front, it totally hits the trend mark. With six color options, you're spoiled for choice. I'm wearing an extra small and found it's true to size. If you're between sizes, I would size down. 

Similar Pick:

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The Power Crop Top
(Image credit: @katcollings)

If you're down for a crop top, this one is excellent. Its slightly oversize drape reminds me of how some TikTok users tuck their tops under their bra bands, but with this top, you can get the same effect minus the effort and worry of becoming untucked. I'm also a fan of the slightly strong shoulder (excellent for balancing proportions) and the textured material, which always reads more expensive. I'm wearing a size small, which fit but could have likely fit in an XS, too. 

The trousers are the kind of chic essential everyone should have in their closet. They're also confusingly comfy, like "Am I wearing pajamas right now?" comfy, and they have an elastic waistband in the back for a comfortable fit. I'm wearing a medium, but a small would have been perfect. The length is a little long for my almost 5'4'' frame, so a trip to the tailor would have to be factored in should I purchase. I was wearing 3-inch heels, and the pants were about an inch too long on me. 

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The Slip Skirt Upgrade
(Image credit: @katcollings)

If you already own a classic slip skirt, this Topshop version is like a spicy little upgrade. Between the slit and the small cutout with tie detail, it has all the elements of a great going-out skirt. I'm wearing a size 2, which fit fine, but felt like it was on the smaller side as far as a size 2 normally fits. 

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(Image credit: @katcollings)

My only qualm is some of the seams don't lay super flat, as you can see on the left side of the photo along my hip. But at this price point, I expect some compromise in the fit. I also think it reads slightly more champagne in person and as shown in my pictures, compared to the more silver look in the model photos. 

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The Tank With Stylish Details
(Image credit: @katcollings)

At first glance, this may seem like a normal tank top, but three things make it a stand-out pick: The curved hem is so cool (the brand Line by K has curved hems, and they're always ahead of trends). The curved hem is also flattering, in my opinion, because it highlights the waist and looks way better untucked than a regular straight hem. Lastly, the exposed seam details and oversize neck and armhole binding add visual interest. She is a winner—trust me!

I'm wearing a size small here and could have gone for an extra small if I wanted a super-snug fit. 

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The Relaxed-Fit Jeans You've Been Looking For
(Image credit: @katcollings)

Affordable jeans often have a tell that gives them away as less expensive than their designer cousins, but I strangely could not find the flaw in these! Wash? Excellent. Length? Excellent for my 5-foot-4-inch frame. Butt? Nice, which can be hard to find in relaxed jeans. Material? 100% cotton. Overall, no notes!

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(Image credit: @katcollings)

I took a 27 in these, and normally I am a 26, so I agree with Nordstrom's note to size up. 

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(Image credit: @katcollings)

Is this called a "belfie?"

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The Miniskirt That's Not Intimidating
(Image credit: @katcollings)

Why is it that most miniskirts are cut super slim to the body? Don't they know it's already a big deal to free the knee when us millennials have been in midis for the better part of a decade?! But it turns out I hadn't tried an A-line mini until I came across this under-$50 number at Nordstrom. The slightly roomier, more forgiving cut feels easier to me. I also think the bow from the wrap is a darling detail. I am wearing a small, which felt true to size.

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The Prada Vibes Shorts
(Image credit: @katcollings)

Am I the only one who finds shorts a tricky clothing category? My old denim cut-offs have been on a hiatus that might just become permanent, and I find Bermuda shorts can be hard to pull off without a heel, at least not at my height. This slightly sporty pair somehow sidesteps all of my shorts woes. The material feels like it has a touch of nylon, hence the Prada vibes, but it's also more satiny than straight nylon, which lends an air of polish. I also like that they're a slightly richer green in person than the more olive look on the model.