Best Fashion & Beauty Buys of 2020

Greetings, friends! I’m excited to bring you this post because it’s always a fan favorite! These are the fashion and beauty items that I feel were my best buys in 2020.

It’s quite a challenge to single out only a few best purchases from the entire year when you do as much shopping as I do, so I’ve probably forgotten a few good ones, but I think this is a pretty good roundup.

By way of disclaimer, I shop differently than the average person because this blog is my job. I pretty much reinvent my wardrobe every season in order to keep my content current, so it looks like a lot (and it is!) but that helps me be a better resource as I seek to provide style inspiration and purchasing advice for the women who are reading along.

This post is a little more personal in nature, but I still want it to be helpful, so I’ll do my best to give size and fit advice on items that are still available.

When choosing items for this post, I look for things I bought last year that I liked enough to keep for my own personal closet, and the ones that I believe will give me a good cost per wear over time. It’s a bonus if I got a really good deal on a luxury item, which of course plays into the cost per wear factor.

Let’s get started!

Best Shoe Purchases of 2020

Let’s start with shoes because… why not?

#1. P448 John Sneakers 

Of everything in my closet, these shoes are probably my most worn wardrobe item this year. I got them late last winter, and I’ve probably worn them once or twice a week since. They are so comfortable, and I love the cool/casual vibe.

This exact pair is gone, but there are lots of other P448 styles available at Nordstrom and other department stores. Yes, they’re pricey, but if you’re patient, you can find them on sale. I got mine for 25% off at Neiman’s, and I’ve seen them for as much as 40% off.

#2. AGL Studded Pointy Toe Moc

I’m super excited to tell you these AGL flats are still well-stocked and on sale at Nordstrom Rack! They were part of the #NSale, and I just love how different they are and how perfectly they fit my personal style aesthetic.

They add a luxe, classy, and slightly edgy touch to so many everyday outfits, and sometimes I even wear them on a casual date night when I don’t feel like wearing heels.

#3. Birkenstock Madrid (also at Nordstrom)

These were a surprise to me, as I’ve never worn Birks before because I didn’t think they worked for my feet. But I was really drawn to this big buckle style that came out last summer, and the more minimalist single strap. Plus, pink!

I ended up wearing these a TON, both around the house and out and about. I can’t wait to pull these out again this spring. (I also got them on sale, which is almost unheard of for Birks! It was back during all the lockdowns, when stores were pretty much giving stuff away.)

#4. Everlane Day Loafer Mules

I actually have these in three colors, so I guess they should probably go in the top spot, but they’re definitely part of my Top 5!

These mules are so comfortable, and I love the minimalist styling. Colors and sizes are currently limited, but they’re on sale. I recommend sizing up half.

#5. Sorel Lennox Lace-Up Boot with Genuine Shearling Trim

I wanted to choose a pair of ankle boots to fill out this 5th spot, and it came down to these and the Vince Henderson Chelsea boots. I went with the Sorel because I haven’t struggled as much with styling them as I have the Vince, but I’ve probably worn the Vince more. Of course, I’ve had them longer too.

They’re both great boots that I expect to wear regularly for the next few fall/winter seasons.

Best Denim Purchases of 2020

When I lost weight during the first couple months of the year, I had to replace all my jeans. Uh, yeah. That was painful. Of the ones I purchased, these are the ones I still own and have worn the most.

#1. Madewell 10-Inch High Waist Crop Skinny Jeans 

I have no idea why these are still fully stocked at such a good sale price, but they’re a really good pair of white jeans. Madewell makes the best white denim I’ve found, as far as not being see-through, and the fit is usually pretty good too. If you need a pair, I highly recommend them. They’re TTS; I have the 28.

#2. Good American Good Legs High Waist Crop Skinny Jeans

jeans // shoes // bag

I purchased these towards the end of the #NSale, almost as an afterthought. I nearly returned them at one point because they felt really tight in the knees and calves, and they have a higher rise than I typically prefer.

Thankfully, I gave them a chance because I love the off-black wash, and I’m really glad I kept them. The high rise hasn’t been an issue, and they have great tummy control, which I love. I wear them at least twice a week.

Unfortunately, they are low inventory at this time, and I can’t find anything quite like them, but I do recommend Good American jeans for a lower priced premium denim brand. Caroline loves them; they’re pretty much all she wears.

#3. rag & bone Cate ankle skinnies

jacket (so good) // similar jeans // sneakers (sold out)

I have several pairs of skinny bluejeans, but these are usually the ones I grab first. They’re super soft and comfortable, and easy to wear with so many things.

They also have the perfect rise and inseam measurements for me, and I love the light wash and chewed hems. (Mine are slightly different than the ones I linked, but both have a really good chewed hem.)

#4. AG Farrah Raw Hem Skinny Ankle Jeans

And these are the ones I reach for when the rag & bone pair is dirty, or I want a slightly darker wash. These are super flattering, and they have a great wash, but the inseam was an inch longer than I prefer, so I cut them.

They’re fine, but that means the leg opening is a teensy bit wider than the usual 10″, and sometimes that bugs me. They also make a really weird crease in the crotch area. (Sorry, I hate that word.)

But, the rear pocket size and placement is the most flattering of all the jeans I own, and that’s why I have three (yes, three) pairs of the AG Farrah. I also have this pair of raw hem ankle jeans in the black, and a darker blue pair with chewed hem (on sale!) I wear them all, but depending on the time of year, some more than others.

#5. Paige Hoxton Transcend Vintage High Waist Crop Skinny Jeans (also at Bloomies)

Yes, all my best denim purchases are skinny jeans. Did you expect anything else? I’m sorry, I’ll keep trying other styles, but if I’m going to pick the ones I reach for the most, they’re my skinnies.

I wear these Paige crops more in spring and summer because of the shorter length, but I love the wash — the whiskering and fading is perfection. I also love the destructed hems. They give the same roughed-up vibe as ripped jeans do, without rips and tears and holes in the knees.

All of the jeans listed here are TTS; I have the 28.

Best Clothing Purchases of 2020

Non-denim clothing is a pretty big category, so this was challenging, but I managed to narrow it down to these five items.

#1. Vince Weekend V-Neck Cashmere Sweater (also at Nordstrom and Bloomies)

For whatever reason, I bought a lot of winter sweaters last year, and picking just a couple was hard because I really do wear them all. But this Vince v-neck came in 1st place is because it meets all three of the criteria I mentioned using when selecting items for this post.

It will be in my closet for many years due to the outstanding quality and classic styling, it’s a versatile closet basic that can be worn alone or as a layering piece, and I got it for an AMAZING price — $119.98, down from $295. It’s definitely one to watch, if you’re in search of a quality cashmere v-neck.

#2. ATM Schoolboy Cheetah Print Slub Cotton Tee

This was such a ridiculous splurge, even at the sale price during the #NSale, but I love it and plan to wear it for years. The quality is really fantastic.

The cheetah print is no longer available, but it comes in some nice solid colors. I’m curious to try the v-neck.

#3. Spanx The Perfect Black Pant Back Seam Skinny Pants (also at Nordstrom)

black skinny ankle pants and pumps

pants // pumps (also a favorite)

I love my jeans, but sometimes a girl needs to break out the pants, and these are so flattering and comfortable. Highly recommend if you need a pair of basic black pants. I have the medium in the regular length (26″ inseam.)

#4. Naadam Recycled Cashmere Crewneck Sweater

I promised myself I wouldn’t include more than one sweater in this section, but the fact of the matter is, I practically live in sweaters four or five months of the year. The problem is, I keep them on a pretty regular rotation, so it’s hard to narrow them down to one or two “best purchases”.

I chose this Naadam crewneck because at the moment, it’s one of the ones I get most excited to wear. I also got it on a really good sale, so cost per wear and all! I have so many nice sweaters, but this one is probably the softest and thickest of all, and it has some nice details. It also looks good alone or layered, making it more versatile than some.

#5. LOFT Stripe Dolman Tee

top // jeans // sandals // bracelet

This is random, but I’m going to round out this section with this striped dolman tee because I probably wore it more than any other top this summer. I don’t necessarily expect to have it for years, but I did save for next season, and on a cost per wear basis, I more than got my money’s worth.

Also leaving this picture un-cropped to prove I do wear jeans that aren’t skinnies! I really did like these Levi’s last year. Maybe I’ll try more of that style.

Best Activewear Purchases of 2020

Yes, this is a new category this year, but it is 2020, after all!

#1. Vuori Performance Joggers (also at Nordstrom)

2020 was the Year of the Jogger, if there ever was one, and I added four pairs to my closet last spring. While I like and kept them all, these are my favorites for the fit, comfort, quality, and versatility.

They feel like butter, and they’re so flattering… well, as flattering as joggers get. I do recommend sizing up in these; I have the medium.

#2. Zella Cozy Space Dye Tech Turtleneck Training Top (also in solid black)

turtleneck // vest // leggings (restocked!) // hat // sunnies

This is my warmest base layer for winter running, and it makes a great stand-alone piece in milder weather.

It’s hard to find both, and I wear this one every chance I get. In other words, if it’s not in the wash, and I’m going running in the cold, this is the top I reach for. It’s a size small, for reference.

#3. Beyond Yoga Midi High Waist Leggings

I bought quite a few pairs of leggings this past year — mainly because I was due for a refresh, and also, Covid. Plus, I was in physical therapy for most of the spring and summer, so I wore joggers and leggings more than usual for that reason as well.

It was hard to pick just one pair because I have a lot that I like, but I went with these because they’re the first ones I grab when I want comfy loungewear, and I also enjoy working out in them. They are seriously like butter. I know, I say that a lot, but sometimes it’s the best I’ve got.

#4. Athleta Momentum Tank

tank // leggings (also love these!) // sneakers // jacket (see below)

Sorry, this is the best picture I can find of this tank without a jacket on top. This is my favorite body-con tank for high impact workouts. I wear it to run and also to the gym.

I love the wider straps and the modest neckline, and it’s just comfortable and cute and stays put. It comes in a bunch of colors, and it’s TTS. I have the small.

#5. Vuori Halo Performance Hoodie (also at Nordstrom)

jacket // tank // joggers (also love these; wearing the 6)

I wanted to choose a jacket or pullover for this fifth spot, but there are a lot this year! Of all the ones I bought, I wore the zip-ups the most because they’re easier to throw on over a tank or tee to go to and from a workout.

This one matches my Vuori joggers, which is nice, although I don’t always wear them together. I have a small in this jacket, but a medium in the joggers.

Best Outerwear Purchases of 2020

I didn’t add a lot of outerwear to my closet this year, even though I styled quite a few pieces for the blog. These are my three faves.

#1. AllSaints Dalby Leather Biker Jacket (also at Nordstrom)

An AllSaints leather biker jacket has been on my wish list for a long time, so when I saw it go on sale in this oxblood color, I grabbed it. I just love the quality and the styling. I know it will get a lot of wear, once the worst of Covid is behind us and I have more reason to dress up.

I had to return the 6 and re-order in the 8, but thankfully folks at Nordstrom allowed me to re-purchase at the sale price. Since then, it sold out at Nordstrom, but it’s still on sale on the AllSaints website, and they just restocked a few sizes. Definitely size up, if in between.

#2. The North Face Westborough Insulated Quilted Jacket

This is more of a fall jacket than winter coat, but it’s really practical and flattering. I have my usual size small. The white is gone, but there are a few sizes left in black and navy.

#3. Caslon Leather Moto with Removable Hood

How funny… this entire outfit is made of up of Best Purchases of 2020, right down to the belt! I decided not to crop this picture, for that reason.

But this is really about the leather jacket, another #NSale purchase. I love the knit hood for a sporty touch.

It’s pretty much sold out, but a few sizes pop up every now and then. If you love it, keep an eye on it; you might get lucky! For size reference, I have the small.

Best Accessory Purchases of 2020

This post is getting LONG and it’s hard to find close-ups of jewelry, so I am going to do a ShopStyle widget for this one.

Best Handbag Purchases of 2020

#1. Saint Laurent Lou Camera Bag

I don’t usually feature my luxury bag purchases on the blog, knowing that they are out of budget for most. However, I do get questions about them from time to time, and I absolutely love this bag. It was my reward to myself for surviving 2020, haha!

I find myself carrying my crossbody bags most often these days, and this YSL Lou is a great size. It holds all the essentials, and it’s comfortable to carry on the shoulder or crossbody style. Unfortunately, this is the best picture I could find of me carrying it.

The leather has proven to be very durable and carefree; it has no marks or scratches or color transfer issues as of yet. I love the combination of the taupe/sand leather and distressed silver hardware. My exact color combo is sold out, but this is a link to all of the YSL Lou color options.

You can find this bag at other retailers, but if ordering online, I recommend using the Saint Laurent website because the packaging and presentation is top notch. I actually ordered this bag first from another retailer, and it came in such horrible condition that I returned it and re-ordered directly from YSL.com.

This one came in their big black branded box, tied with a bow, and it was packaged with great care. If I’m going to spend this much on a bag, I want it to come with all the bells and whistles. Also, make sure to always save all boxes and packaging from any luxury purchase for potential resale purposes.

#2. MICHAEL Michael Kors Jet Set Charm East West Camera Crossbody (also at Macy’s)

I purchased this to have a more affordable camera bag to feature on the blog, and I do carry it sometimes for personal use when I don’t want to carry a luxury bag. It’s very nice quality, and I really like the external pockets for stowing my phone.

It’s about the same size as the Saint Laurent Lou, maybe slightly smaller, and my only complaint is that it’s a bit stiff and hard to get into.

#3. It’s A Tie

The other two contemporary bags I purchased (and kept) this year were the Everlane Studio Bag and the Kate Spade Large Florence Leather Shoulder Bag (an #NSale purchase). Unfortunately, they’ve sold out, but if you can find one on Poshmark or Ebay, I highly recommend both of these bags.

I really love the size and styling of the Everlane Studio Bag. It is genuine leather, although I will say, it doesn’t really feel or smell like it. But it’s such a sleek bag with the unique pocket detail, and the size is really nice when you want something bigger than a camera bag.

The Kate Spade Large Florence is a really nice shoulder bag for going-out looks; I carry it a lot to church. It’s roomy and classy, and the gold chain strap is a nice touch.

Best Beauty Purchases of 2020

Alrighty! I added quite a few new makeup and skincare products to my arsenal this year. In the interest of time, I will try to choose my five favorites.

#1. UV Elements Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 44 (also at Amazon)

After finding the Hot & Flashy YouTube channel, I totally changed up my morning routine. Two of my favorite products are included in this section.

I apply this tinted mineral sunscreen after my serums and moisturizer, and I love how it evens out my skin tone and provides sun protection all day. It goes on nicely and feels moisturizing, but I still wear a moisturizer underneath because I’m very dry.

#2. Colorescience Total EyeTM 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy SPF 35 (also on Amazon and Nordstrom)

I apply a tiny bit of this product to my eye area after the UV Elements mineral sunscreen. I use as little as possible to get full coverage, and I pat it in gently. I’ve heard from some of you that it’s settling into your fine lines, and that will definitely happen if you use too much. A little goes a long way. I also apply my moisturizer to the under eye area before applying this.

What I love most about these two products is, besides prepping my skin for makeup and starting the color correcting process, they also help my skin look smoother and more even if I choose not to wear makeup. I have a lot of redness, and these help a lot.

#3. Essence Extreme Lasting Eye Pencil

This little guy is so good — and the price point is unbelievable. It does NOT budge, smudge, or transfer to my eyelids throughout the day. Also love the color. I used to wear black eyeliner, but I ordered this in the Black Midnight Sky, and I like how it’s still dark but not quite as harsh.

#4. Tarte Tartelette 2 In Bloom Clay Eyeshadow Palette

This eyeshadow palette has such a pretty assortment of neutral shimmers and mattes, and the palette is arranged in rows for three easy looks to mix and match. I find them easy to apply, and it’s hard to overdo it, yet they have a lot of pigment and great staying power.

Since using this palette, I’m always amazed by how good my eye shadow looks at the end of the day… especially when I wear the Fenty eye primer — but honestly, when I’m in a rush and don’t use the eye primer, this eye shadow still holds up amazingly well.

#5. Hourglass GIRL Lip Stylo in Activist (also at Nordstrom)

This lip color has the intensity of a lipstick but it’s infused with a blend of hydration for the appearance of softer, fuller lips. It feels very moist and fresh, and I could wear it alone, but old habits die hard, and I usually top it off with a lipgloss for some extra hydration and shine. My current favorite is BUXOM Full-On Plumping Lip Cream in Dolly.

And, that’s a wrap!!!!

My goodness, this got longer than I anticipated. The Worst Purchases list will be much shorter, I promise!

I’d love to hear about some of your best purchases of 2020! Feel free to share in the comments.

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