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 for 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 September.
Jenna Milliner-Waddell, junior writer
Before working on our best cable modem and best Wi-Fi router stories, I had no idea what either thing was. But when I moved into an apartment by myself at the beginning of the month and suddenly things like setting up Wi-Fi all fell on me, all the reviews about people trying to escape their service provider’s monthly modem and router rental fees finally clicked. I didn’t want to fall into the same trap they did and knew I wanted to buy my own too. The Optimum guy set up the modem, but setting up the router was up to me, myself, and I — which also doubled as the perfect network name. Just like reviewers said it would be, the setup was simple and I was browsing and streaming in no time.
I recently worked on the best expert-recommended leave-in conditioners and what I gleaned from all my research is that I have low-porosity hair, meaning I have a tight cuticle layer resistant to moisture. I am always a little skeptical of hair-care products that aren’t specifically made for black women, but I had a sample of this bond serum from Sephora, and it promised to seal my strands. Hoping it would lock in all the moisture my hair is so resistant to, I gave it a try and racked it through my coily curls. TL;DR: I tried the sample and now the full-size version is en route.
Hilary Reid, writer
I did some fall shopping this month, which included buying this “sleeveless cardigan” a.k.a. vest from Agnès B. The Strategist once named Agnès B.’s snap cardigans as one of the few inoffensive office cardigans, and I couldn’t agree more. I have my black one with me most days, and now I’m excited to have this jaunty green one in rotation, too.
These look a lot like the vintage Levi’s that I already own, which is why I really didn’t need them and also why I absolutely had to buy them. It’s rare to find new jeans that look and fit like old ones — and I like the long, straight legs on this pair.
This charger is the most practical thing I bought this month, and also what I’m most excited about. It’s a phone wall-charger AND a portable battery pack(!). You use it as you would a normal wall charger, and then remove it from the wall and take it with you as a fully charged portable battery. After Jacqueline Novak talked about it in her What I Can’t Live Without, I added it to my cart immediately.
I came across this book at my parents’ house and loved it so much I ordered a copy for myself. It’s from Alex Katz’s 1986 Whitney exhibition, and has a series of really wonderful cut paper collages of beach houses, piers, a bowl of olives, and people sailing and lazing on the beach.
Rio Viera-Newton, writer
If you’ve spoken to me in the last few weeks, odds are you’ve heard me gloating about my new salad lunchbox. I enjoy saving some money and bringing a packed lunch to work. But in the past, I’d found safely transporting my favorite lunchtime meal, a heavily dressed salad with hearty toppings, difficult to accomplish. I would either have to pre-dress my salad so that it could be reduced to one container and deal with a sad, soggy lunch, or I’d have to use a ton of different Tupperware and mini mason jars for my dressing, salad, and toppings. Not to mention, there were more than a few incidents of unfortunate spillage. But this Bentgo Salad Container changed everything for me. This two tier container keeps the greens and toppings separate (this is very important to me because I like to have juicy, garlicky black beans in my salad) and comes with a 3oz jar for dressings which inserts into the topping tray. This all-in-one container is also trustworthy enough to be transported on its side — I’ve been using this everyday for the past two weeks and it hasn’t once leaked in my purse. And you won’t believe: It also comes with an attachable fork! It’s never been so easy to bring my salads to work.
I impulse purchased this Cryosphere Cold Massage Roller on Amazon the other day after suffering from particularly brutal pilates-induced soreness. I’ve since become completely obsessed. I keep it in the freezer and anytime I dealing with any neck, back, or thigh pain, I whip it out to massage and soothe any tough knots or aches. But it’s also become my new go-to ice roller for facial inflammation and under-eye puffiness — I’ve found it stays colder for longer than any of my traditional jade rollers and it’s delightfully easy to roll in different directions around my face.
Alexis Swerdloff, Strategist editor
I did very little shopping of note this month. The only thing really worth calling out is this Rains tote that I got in London for my husband (I was there gearing up for the Strategist U.K. launch, which is happening imminently). I picked it up while perusing a lovely concept store called Aida across from the Ace Hotel. My husband currently uses a somewhat heavy bag to carry around his laptop and gym clothes, and this tote (from a Swedish brand known for its raincoats) is extremely lightweight and stylish without being showy. He tells me he loves it, and I’m tempted to believe him!
Chloe Anello, junior writer
I went a little crazy with the Target 20th anniversary collaboration collection, swiping up five pieces and the John Derian plates. Instead of shopping online and competing with the entire country at midnight to get everything I wanted (or waiting for returns to roll in), I actually drove to a Target in the morning. Surprisingly, most things were still in stock yet sold out online. This blazer was my favorite thing I bought. I missed out on the Phillip Lim collaboration the first time around, but I’m okay with that, because I like this update much more than the original pieces.
Dominique Pariso, writer
This was the month I finally joined the Hopperati. After seeing Strategist’s audience engagement manager Mia floating through the office in a pair — and spending the day nursing a mean blister — I bought them. I am happy to report that they are, indeed, as comfortable as everybody says they are. And the white style I got is almost half-off right now. The bad news: There are limited sizes left. The good news: There are plenty of other colors on sale as well, including bright red, earthy taupe, light grey, and black.
Katy Schneider, editor
I went to Hilary’s stoop sale a couple of weeks ago and bought a red Agnès B. snap cardigan from her. I asked her why she was selling it, and she told me she’d recently purchased a new one with pearl buttons. I’m so happy to be the beneficiary of her castoffs!
Inspired, I went home and searched around on Depop for other vintage Agnès B., and came across this black long-sleeve with the brand’s name written in loopy cursive down the arm. Bought that, too. [Editor’s note: Katy’s exact shirt is sold out, but a similar one is available here.]
Another twofer: Susan Choi’s new book, Trust Exercise, which I couldn’t put down, and Susan Choi’s 2004 book, American Woman, which I just started.
Also, my Article Platform Bed for my teeny-tiny bedroom arrived, and it’s perfect for the space. It’s very nice looking and takes up barely any room. We paid a little extra for them to bring it up the stairs and put it together and the whole thing was so easy and pleasant that I thought: Maybe it’s time to embrace the inevitable and begin exclusively shopping for items advertised to me on Instagram rather than hunting for antiques and hauling them home in borrowed cars.
Maxine Builder, managing editor
One time, I saw Ty Haney using Dr. Hauschka’s Translucent Bronzing Tint, so I bought Dr. Hauschka’s Translucent Bronzing Tint, which was conveniently stocked at my Whole Foods near the dairy-free ice cream. I will say: One pump looks terrifyingly dark in my palm, like a bad spray-tan waiting to happen, but I mixed it with some Skin Food Light (since I didn’t have any Ty-recommended Embryolisse) and slathered it on my face and I didn’t look orange, which is good. But I also don’t think I’ve quite dialed in the right ratio of Skin Food-to-bronzing tint for the full boosting effect that she describes. However, I am committed to making it work, especially since the threat of winter looms large in my psyche!
My biggest personal achievement this month was finishing an entire tin of Smith’s Rosebud Salve after who-knows-how-many-years, so I treated myself to a new one from Sephora.
And last but not least, I need to rave about my most recent Patagonia purchase: a recycled cashmere cardigan that I got at the Patagonia outlet in Freeport, Maine, for 30-percent off the list price. (Regular readers of this column might clock that it was, in fact, my second trip to this outlet in about three months, and no, I have no regrets.) The cardigan is soft, thick, and looks entirely too fancy to be Patagonia, if we’re being honest. But just like everything else Patagonia that I own, I’m fully in love with it and I can’t wait for the weather to get cold enough so I can wear it to pieces.
Karen Iorio Adelson, senior writer
Maxine introduced me to this planner last year when she was working on a story about the best planners for different organizing styles. I like that it has ample space for monthly and weekly planning and some guided prompts that get me thinking about my long term goals, but without being too preachy or cheerleader-like. I’ve been using one for most of 2019 and when I saw their “Pacific Series” of soft, beachy colors for 2020, I ordered one for next year. Now I just have to avoid falling in love with another planner in the next three months.
Vitamin C seems like one of those skincare ingredients that all the experts agree actually does something. I’ve been wanting to add one to my routine for a while but after a bad breakout from the widely-beloved SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic I wasn’t sure which one to choose. Fortunately, Dominique did some research for her story on vitamin C serums and learned that for oily, acne-prone types (like me), this formula works better because it doesn’t contain pore-clogging vitamin E. I’ve been applying it daily for about a month now and I’m starting to see some dark spots fading away and my skin tone looks more even. Best of all, no pimples.
David Notis, writer
I get some sort of seasonal cold or allergies for a week or two around this time every year, when temperatures drop and summer turns to fall. The one thing that (kind of sort of) cheers me up is the Traditional Medicinals “Seasonal Sampler,” which I’ve taken to buying every year as a sort of cold season “pregame.” Maybe I’m weird, but I just think it’s fun, and I like the idea of leaning into seasonal colds a bit. It’s like a seasonal cold party pack.
Never thought I’d be excited about sesame oil, but here we are. I usually buy toasted sesame oil like once when there’s a recipe that calls for it and then it just stays in my fridge unused until I move to a new apartment. Well, I was recently making something that called for toasted sesame oil, and needed to buy a new bottle. This was the only one they had at the grocery store — it was a fancy grocery store — and I was annoyed by the price but bought it anyway. Once I tried it, though, I had no regrets. Like, it’s really good. It has a complex, deep flavor and you can definitely taste the difference. Unlike other sesame oils I’ve bought, I’ve gone through this one FAST because I keep finding excuses to use it.
Liza Corsillo, writer
I wear very little makeup on a daily basis — mostly just a little concealer and mascara. And because I like it to look as natural as possible, I’ve been meaning to try wearing brownish-black mascara for years. So about a week ago, while killing time in a Duane Reade, I finally bought this one and I am super pleased so far. It gives me length and volume without looking too dressy or thick.
My former coworker (and ceramics idol) Marian Bull recently posted another pair of earrings by Brooklyn designer Angela Vitello on her Instagram stories, and I was so struck by a mix of nostalgia and desire that I clicked through and bought this colorful pair within minutes. My maternal grandmother used to keep a turquoise pair of fuzzy dice hanging over the dashboard in her Honda Accord. So I’ll wear these hoops in her honor.
Transitioning from sandals to closed-toe shoes in the fall always tears up my feet. So one night before going to see Lizzo at Radio City Music Hall, I stopped by Muji on Broadway to pick up a pair of socks to wear with my brand new Stan Smith sneakers.
Simone Kitchens, senior editor
It is stripe city over here at the Strategist recently. This month we covered stripes’ enduring appeal both in the magazine and online. I love the clinginess the ribbed texture adds to this tee. Two different friends asked if it was vintage Edith A. Miller, which felt like a high compliment.
It is almost Aquaphor season. Since we pretty much eat whatever lip product we put on, I’m trying this near-identical all-natural version. It’s really good as an overnight lip mask, and I’ll add a little bit to the tops of my cheekbones. It stays put, making my skin beam for hours.
Mary H.K. Choi was right. These plush cotton squares are the most luxurious, softest (yet cheapest) thing you can add to your routine. A couple drops of Tatcha essence, which the pad distributes amazingly well, and I can wipe my whole face and neck then go back and get any leftover mascara. I never need to use a second pad — it stays intact and will not shred on you.
Lauren Ro, writer
Up until this month, I had barely bought any clothing beyond basics likes onesies and pajamas for my 7-month-old, because much of his wardrobe had been gifted. When the weather started to turn, I realized that he needed warm clothes that would last through the season, so I turned to Hanna Andersson, apparently the brand of choice for a certain subset of bougie parents (I hadn’t heard of it until we wrote about its diffusion line PJs). Luckily, it was having a massive, site-wide sale earlier this month, so I went a little crazy and nabbed a few adorable knit and fleece-y items for 40-percent off.
And from Uniqlo, I got him this full-body winter onesie jacket thing for when it gets really cold. (Do they make one for adults?)
Okay, so maybe I bought a lot of stuff for Augie this month. We recently had to move his baby bathtub from the counter to the actual bathtub because he was splashing too much and making a mess. And because it seems like he actually enjoys bath time now, I thought he could use some toys. These clear, bubble-like balls are great. They float and rattle and are easy for Augie to grasp. Except he’s more interested in putting them in his mouth than actually playing with them, which I suppose is to be expected at his age.
I finally bit the bullet and shelled out for a proper voice recorder. It goes without saying that I also had to get the telephone pick-up microphone that so many of my colleagues already have (and swear by).
Anthony Rotunno, senior editor
When I wrote about everything I bought on my recent trip to China, I somehow forgot to include the most unusual and authentically Chinese item — a wooden cricket cage, like this one. My husband and I got ours at Shanghai’s Bird and Flower market, which is truly one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen, filled with stall after stall of vendors selling fish, cats, dogs, birds, crickets, plants, and their requisite accessories. Like the cricket cage we got, this one has a hook and appears to have a delicate little door you slide up to let the cricket (or whatever else you might put in) inside.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.