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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in December

Photo: Courtesy of the retailers

If you follow our biweekly feature Your Shopping Cart, you know that we have some eerily good intel on what you all are buying. Which led us to think that, as Strategist editors, we could turn the tables and highlight all the things we’ve been buying ourselves. As you’ll notice, it’s both a blessing and a curse to be a Strategist editor; we’re picky, but sometimes we just have to get on with it (it’s online shopping expertise meets IRL needs). Below, what we all bought in December.

Maxine Builder, writer

I picked up the Hairstory Brush at the Strategist’s holiday pop-up — which marked Hairstory’s brick-and-mortar pop-up debut! — after talking with one of their stylists, and it’s made the experience of washing my hair with New Wash somehow even nicer. The prickly-looking brush is actually fairly pliable, and it massages my scalp as I wash, which feels incredible. Using the brush also helps me ensure that all of the product, and ensuing hair gunk, is rinsed out.

My boyfriend wanted black mini-Uggs for Christmas, so I got him a pair of black mini-Uggs (and now I think I also want a pair of Uggs, but in chestnut, not black).

I was desperate to take some time off of the internet this month, so I spent a lot of money on books and even more time reading in my bed, far, far away from screens. I finally picked up Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends and devoured it in two days. I also bought Cocaine + Surfing, which was on display at McNally Jackson in Williamsburg among all of the cookbooks but is decidedly not a cookbook. As the title suggests, Cocaine + Surfing is about surf’s love affair with cocaine, but it really ends up being a fascinating, and often hilarious, meditation on coping when your expectations for life don’t quite match your reality.

Simone Kitchens, senior editor

I know New Balance has had a slightly problematic last couple years, but I’m still into the way they look. I had the gray Steve Jobs-preferred 991s in college like everyone else, and now I’m returning to them with this slightly bouncier 998 version. They’re still sort of a nothing sneaker, in a good way. To me, New Balance has transcended dad-sneaker-ness; they’re just full-on grandpa.

I like a lot of things about this conditioner: how it instantly detangles my very knot-prone hair, the way it makes my curly hair air-dry in this evenly hydrated, non-crunchy way. But mostly, I really like they way it smells, like a freshly lit stick of palo santo. Most hair stuff tends to have this perfumy artificial scent that I find to be overpowering. This stuff, with its sandalwood-lavender-jojoba formula, is more subtle, but at the same time, it’s exactly what I want to smell like.

I haven’t been feeling so hot this week; am teetering on the verge of coming down with something. And I look like it, Katy recently told me. This, coupled with my olive-ish undertones, means my skin can look sort of green. I really like the left side of this palette, it’s a bricky-peachy red with absolutely no shimmer whatsoever. I dab it on the tops of my cheek, then I’ll go in with a drop of face oil and just buff it out. Helps me look a little more alive.

Margaret Rhodes, senior editor


I edited a big story on knives this year, in which the Global G-2 came out on top as the best chef’s knife. For Christmas I gave one to my dad, who taught me much of what I know about cooking.

I also considered a lot of candles this year. The DNA I inherited from my mom more or less includes an obsessive love of candles, so I gave her this big, intoxicating “alien wood explosion”-scented candle — one of the absolute best I came across.

December isn’t the month to buy stuff for yourself, but it is officially cold as hell, so I picked up this beanie from Uniqlo. I love the thick knit on it, and it’s Heattech so it’s like wearing a tiny space heater on your head. Evidence suggests it was a good purchase: the other day a guy unloading a UPS truck in Soho yelled at me, “Hey! I like your hat!” So I yelled back, “It only costs $10, around the corner!” and then he said, “Maybe I’ll go get one!” I hope he did.

Katy Schneider, associate editor

I had to test out a bunch of stylish space heaters for a recent issue of the magazine, and walked away with several new ones. My hands-down favorite was this modish guy by Plus Minus Zero, a Japanese company headed by famous industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa. It’s warming and portable and turns off when it tips over, but most importantly I find it totally strange-looking and adorable, like a tiny, modish hearth.

Photo: Jon Shireman

This month I’ve had bunch of migraines, a terrible cold, and lots of work. One result of this wonderful trifecta? I killed my giant monstera plant. I thought our office plant whisperer, Randy from the photo department, might be able to salvage it, but when I showed him a picture he smiled at me sadly and said it might be time to let it go. So I stuck it in a garbage bag, and bought a new one. Hopefully this one makes it through January without perishing.

Dominique Pariso, intern

This eye shadow instantly turns your eyelids into disco balls with super-pigmented glitter that does not budge. Plus, the formula dries down like a dream, with no flaking or creasing. I plan on wearing it everyday from now until New Year’s.

I ran my old pair of beloved black Vagabond boots into the ground and the white feels like a sleek upgrade. Truth be told, I snapped these up during the Urban Outfitters sale. The boots are sold out there now but, luckily, still available at Asos.

Seeing Nessie bobbing around makes every pot of sad, cold-weather, lentil gruel that much sweeter.

When I was a kid, my mom would routinely eat all of the marshmallows from the Lucky Charms box and leave the oat cereal for me and my brother to eat for breakfast. Last year, I bought this one-pound bag of cereal marshmallow for Christmas to remind her of our tragic childhood. She loved them so much, I decided to repurchase them to put in her stocking for the second year in a row.

Katie Kimmel is a foodie fan-favorite. I already own one of her T-shirts that says “Linguini and Clams” on it, so I decided to expand my pasta-based apparel with this tote bag as a little holiday gift to myself.

Liza Corsillo, writer/editor

Almost everything I bought in December was a gift for someone else. But I did splurge on one new thing for myself. The Penfield Kirby jacket is something that I recommended as a girlfriend gift as well as something I added to my Strategist editor wish list, so I really hope nobody decided to buy one for me. Today is my first day wearing it out and I couldn’t be happier. It’s warm and cozy with the perfect amount of pockets — six different places to put my hands while walking! And it makes jeans and a pair of Blundstones look like a fashion choice rather than something I would happily wear seven days a week.

I bought my boyfriend two almost identical crew neck sweatshirts from two different brands in two different colors. He’s a committed sweatshirt wearer and he looks so good in them that I wanted to give him two upgraded versions of what he already had. One is olive green and comes from Japanese brand the Real McCoy’s, which is famous for making faithful reproductions of classic Americana style pieces. The other is black and from Todd Snyder x Champion. I figure at least one of them will fit him perfectly (I consulted my extensive list of menswear geeks to be sure of the sizing) and the other he can return for something else he likes from either brand.

Lauren Ro, writer

Besides all the Christmas gifts I bought for friends and family this month, I ordered this 2019 daily diary from Milligram, an Australian stationery store, after much deliberation. With a baby on the way in the spring, I wanted a notebook that had enough room and flexibility to serve as a repository for all kinds of notes on feedings, naps, and whatever stats new parents need to record (as well as my own harried thoughts). I briefly considered getting a planner that encompassed monthly, weekly, and daily views, but I thought that would be a bit too unwieldy. I stuck with my tried-and-true Muji planner for calendaring purposes, but still wanted a separate notebook for everything else. All the baby-specific one were just plain ugly, so I was delighted when I landed on Milligram’s in-house-designed planners. With a variety of abstract covers, colorways, and programs, they were the planners of my dreams. I chose the daily “non-diary” with dot-grid pages for each day of the year. The only issue is that I have to go in and cross out all the Australian holidays, but that’s a minor nuisance.

I vowed I wouldn’t buy any more maternity clothes unless I absolutely had to, attempting to survive on my one pair of maternity jeans, a few tops, and some hand-me-downs, but when I saw that this billowy corduroy dress was part of Rachel Comey’s 50-percent-off sale, I had to have it. Not only is it part of my non-maternity-clothes-that-work-as-maternity-clothes aesthetic, it works as a winter dress with its wide-wale corduroy fabric and could ostensibly transition to warm-weather, non-pregnant wear. It was expensive, but I know that I’ll be wearing this dress forever, whatever the shape of my body.

Jason Chen, deputy editor

I am FEELING a bathrobe-y coat right now, and really wanted this Lemaire, but I’m not so insane as to spend $3,000 on a coat (my size is sold out, too). The computer’s algorithm is smart enough to know what I was looking at, though, and I got a Need Supply banner ad shortly thereafter showing me this Éditions M.R. coat — I got it on sale, and I’m perfectly happy with it.

My mom has been wearing a set of pajamas that I wouldn’t describe as ratty, but maybe well-worn. I went with a classic mom PJ in navy and it looks just great on her.

One of my favorite things to wear when I’m feeling lazy is a white T-shirt, jeans, and an “inside jacket” like a lightweight Harrington or baseball jacket. My inside jacket collection has been feeling pretty anemic lately, so I snapped up one of these APC bombers on sale.

Karen Iorio Adelson, writer

Thanks to my new acne medication and the winter weather, my normally oil-slick skin is feeling tight and dry. I’ve started phasing out the actives and acids in my routine and replacing them with more gentle, moisturizing products. I tried both of these as samples and ended up liking them enough to buy the full-size versions. The First Aid Beauty cleanser is extra gentle — like rub-it-right-over-your-eyelids-with-no-stinging gentle, and still leaves my face feeling clean. As for the Drunk Elephant cream, I started using it only at night because I thought it’d be too greasy for daytime, but as my skin got dryer, I added it into my morning routine and I’m so happy I did. It’s rich and thick, and my skin feels crazy-soft all day.

At any given time, my husband owns one pair of jeans that he will wear into the ground before he replaces them. I noticed his current pair was starting to get a little haggard, so I preemptively bought him new ones. I like that Bonobos offers a few different fits like “tailored,” “athletic,” and, the one my husband likes, “straight,” which is definitely not a slim or skinny jean but isn’t at all baggy, either.

Lori Keong, writer

Beyond shopping for others, Christmas is also the best season for checking off your own personal wish-list items. I’ve been routinely checking in on Corey Moranis things (I covered her in a story about lucite jewelry), but she’s based in Canada, and I always balk at the import fee. Her wrap rings have been on my wish list forever and now that they’ve landed at Need Supply, I finally pulled the trigger.

I despise New Year’s Eve, but will take any opportunity to dress up even if my only plans are to attend a casual dinner party this year. I spotted this little twist-top number as I was working on a New Year’s Eve dress post, and (whoops) it was already en route before I even finished the story. Mazel and merry Christmas to me!

It’s always sad when you scrape the bottom of whatever precious beauty product you’re using. The latest item on my empties list is this magical, heavenly-smelling Japanese finishing cream (which I still use regularly because my blonde tips refuse to grow out completely). I’m pleasantly surprised that this thing has lasted me for a full year, and now it’s time to re-up.

David Notis, writer

I have been seeing these socks everywhere! Like one of those targeted ads that follows you on Instagram, Facebook, and across the web — but in real life, at all my favorite clothing stores. I finally bought a pair of these red ones and I loved them so much I soon got them in green and blue, too. I haven’t had them for long, so I can’t speak to how they hold up long-term, but they seem very well-made. I always wear merino wool hiking-style socks with boots in the winter, but I feel those can look kind of boring with low-tops or desert boots, or anything where you’re going to show a little sock. That’s why I love these: they can add a nice pop of color or texture to my otherwise pretty monotone winter wardrobe.

All about Earl Grey tea lately. I like it in the afternoon or early evening since it’s not super-caffeinated. It took me a while to warm up to Earl Grey; I used to find it kind of cloyingly floral, but I think I just hadn’t met the right Earl. The Harney & Sons one is the best I’ve had so far — the bergamot flavor is subtle and natural. Also, the packaging is great. It’s loose tea packaged in “sachets” as opposed to ground up tea in bags. I actually do think it makes a difference; more flavor comes out and it’s less bitter. Also, it just makes a regular cup of tea feel more luxe — live that sachet life.

I feel I write about this beard brush way too much, but I can’t help it. It’s great. Made in Germany. Pear wood handle. Soft boar’s hair. What more could you want? I used one during my two months with a beard when I bought a year’s worth of beard grooming products for myself, and now I get my fix through buying them as gifts for other bearded people. It’s just such a slam dunk of a gift. I bought one as a “Secret Santa” gift for a bearded friend and he loved it.

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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in December