I Tried on 43 Cheap Basics at Nordstrom—I Would Buy These 16 Right Away

We love an editor try-on story here at Who What Wear. Whether our editorial staffers are testing affordable pieces from Who What Wear Collection or our market editor is running around Los Angeles finding the best winter dresses between Reformation, H&M, and Zara, 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 basic with a twist. But rest assured, my picks are all incredibly versatile, and largely very affordable, with tons of options under $100 and only one special pick over $150. Additionally, this time I thought I'd infuse some real 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 just didn't make the cut. I figure knowing which items are less stellar IRL 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

Classic Camel Sweater:
Basic Tan Sweater Nordstrom

Photo:

@katcollings

This cozy camel sweater was one of my favorite things I tried on. I can't believe it's under $50, and it seems like the kind of material that doesn't pill. Also, most importantly, it's not itchy. I should have mentioned that first, as it's the first test all prospective sweaters must pass. Who has time to be uncomfortable?

All you need in life is this black dress. Hear me out: It's subtly ribbed, which always makes cotton feel a bit more luxurious. It's rather body-conscious, but even this girl who owns exactly zero form-fitting dresses felt comfortable. I love how the turtleneck piece elevates it, and the length balances out that curve-flaunting fit. In a word, it's perfection.

Tan Blazer
Tan Blazer Review

Photo:

@katcollings

This is the only pick in the bunch that I couldn't resist sharing three, count 'em, three pictures of with you. I was so impressed with this blazer. I would hire it for a job on the spot. Report to my closet effective immediately!

Seriously though, the material is truly standout. It has a really natural feel, and the raw edges add to the effect. It ends up making a rather serious item feel a bit easy and cool. It was originally styled with the cuff rolled up, and thank goodness it can be rolled down, or that would have been a dealbreaker. This is a size eight. Normally I would have grabbed a two or four, but I'm not mad at this oversize fit.

One reviewer who purchased this blazer said, "I probably wore it 4 times in the first week. Goes great with so many things, especially jeans."

Plaid Coat
Plaid Coat

Photo:

@katcollings

This is a really solid coat. It's thick, feels luxurious, and you know a classic check will never go out of style. Plus it's on sale, go, go! I'm wearing an XS here.

One online reviewer who owns the coat said, "Such a great quality jacket, and it's so chic! Fits slightly oversized and is double breasted so the front hangs open a bit more than a single would. You can wear with black or brown, and I’ve already received a lot of compliments. It’s def worth getting at the sale price!"

Oversize Blazer
Reformation Blazer Review

Photo:

@katcollings

Every woman should own a classic black blazer. It is wardrobe 101, so if you're waiting for a sign to get yours, this is it darlin'. To me, a double-breasted blazer like this one always feels a tad more elevated than single-breasted. Once this number arrives in the mail, may I suggest popping out your collar like me? All the fashion girls are doing it. I'm wearing a size small here, so as you can tell, the cut is a bit oversized.

Printed Dress
Floral Printed Dress

Photo:

@katcollings

Upon zipping up this dress, I'm pretty sure I mouthed, "Check me out," to no one in particular. Hello, waist! Hello, beautiful curves! This ruched dress was made to highlight your assets, and I love that it's versatile to wear to work with a blazer (may, I recommend the one just above?) and could also be completely appropriate for a spring wedding. This is a size four, which felt easy and absolutely non-restrictive. 

Here's a closer look at the print.

Cami + Slip Skirt
Rust Camisole and Slip Skirt

Photo:

@katcollings

My love for a matching set knows no bounds. Whether it's a suit or a slip skirt and cami, I feel honest-to-goodness relief when I'm searching for an outfit and come across a solid set in my closet. I don't know a better way to put in minimal effort and get such a high return on looking put together. The skirt I'm wearing is an XS, but would opt for small if they had it. The XS top was perfect for me. 

Bodysuit

Photo:

@katcollings

Okay, so this bodysuit isn't exactly a basic, but it's so cute I couldn't resist trying it on. Polka dots will always be in style, okay? The silky material looks super premium and I'm a sucker for a covered button. Plus, since it's a bodysuit, I don't have to worry about any retucking.  I'm wearing a size small here. 

This has to be one of the more stylish henleys I've ever seen. From the cute buttons to the bib-like seam, the details elevate it tremendously. The texture is spot-on, too. I'm wearing an XS here, so you can see it's a slightly oversize fit, which is perfect for the laid-back vibe of the top. 

Fleece Pullover
Fleece pullover

Photo:

@katcollings

I've already waxed poetic about Thread & Supply's wildly soft fleece pullovers. Previously, I compared their fleece to a cloud hugging you, and I stand behind that. This time around, I've grown out my bangs and tried on a new color. I would say it has more of an olive tint IRL than the model photo below shows. My favorite bit is the navy blue contrast at the collar. I'm wearing an XS here.

Camisole
Olive Camisole Top

Photo:

@katcollings

I can never have enough silk camis. They're the basic that keeps on giving. This one is more olive in person; on the model, it looks weirdly bronze. I'm wearing an XS.

One reviewer who owns the top said, "I have been wearing this cami all winter long! I pair it with a warm blazer or alpaca cardigan. This cami is super soft, layers well, and is actually warm enough for winter months."

Black Top & Skirt

Photo:

@katcollings

Predictable. I'm back in a matching set. Now I know this pick probably isn't as exciting as the polka-dot bodysuit you can see in the back of this picture, but I would like to bet that you'll get a ton of wear out of these two pieces. The top and skirt are both ribbed, and the slight crop on the shirt ensures they meet just perfectly. This means I can avoid the bulk of tucking in the top while simultaneously keeping my stomach covered. I'm wearing a small here in both.

Off-the-Shoulder Top
Ruched Top

Photo:

@katcollings

I know it's still winter, but you can't blame a girl for looking ahead to spring can you? The ruched trend is only on the up, and this charming top is the perfect example of how to get the look. Plus, it costs about the same as a pedicure in Los Angeles. I pick the top, and I can do my toes at home, thanks! I'm wearing a small here.

Howsabout another look at that texture?

A classic quilted bomber is a purchase that will never go out of style. I could picture wearing this when I'm 70! Like other olive pieces in this roundup, the Nordstrom model's version looks strangely bronze. Trust me, it is green, not metallic brown! One reviewer said, "Super cute jacket. It pretty much looks and fits on me as in the pics. It's lightweight, not heavy. Room to spare for layering, but not overwhelming. Price-wise it's a good value. Just love it!"

Not For Me

Printed Dress
Polka Dot Dress

Photo:

@katcollings

Maybe I just needed a good steamer to love this dress, but no matter how many photos I took, I couldn't catch one I liked. I much preferred the bodysuit version, which is much more versatile anyway.

Going-Out Top
Pearl Pink Top

Photo:

@katcollings

Another case where I had to take 10 million photos to get one decent one. The shoulder on this top is a little too intense, and as one reviewer noted, it's a tad itchy, too. 

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