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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in November

Photo: Courtesy of the vendors

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 November.

David Notis, writer

I bought a set of Brooklinen sheets in off-white a few months ago and have been loving them. I stubbornly ignored my mom’s advice to get two sets, because I wanted to try them out first, but I must admit that alternating between these and my old Bed Bath and Beyond set to coordinate wash cycles has made me wish I just bought two from Brooklinen up front. Luckily, not buying two at first has paid off: Brooklinen is having an early (and apparently ongoing) 20 percent off sale sitewide for Black Friday, which seems a perfect excuse to finally treat myself to that second set, in classic white.

I’ve written about my love for Darn Tough socks before. There are a lot of good wool-blend/washable socks out there. Smartwool is great. A lot of my friends swear by People Socks. But I’m loyal to Darn Tough just because I admire how they stand behind their products, and from my experience they hold up better than anything else. Maybe I am lame, but I personally find an L.L. Bean x Darn Tough collab much more exciting than any Off-White or Supreme release, so I had to have these. I love the wild design.

Karen Iorio Adelson, senior writer

From $180

For too long, I’d been using a Fitbit for everyday use and a (very old) Garmin GPS watch for running. I liked the ability to program interval workouts on my Garmin and its running-specific stats, but I liked how my Fitbit tracked steps and sleep. The Vivoactive 4S combines the best features of both, and now I have all of my data in one place. Compared to the Vivoactive 4, the 4S model is a little smaller, so it doesn’t totally overwhelm my wrist. And the white strap with rose-gold accents make it a bit more nice-looking than your average activity tracker. It’s also extremely customizable, with the ability to choose what data you see on the home screen (I have my daily steps and mileage), and lots of different ways to organize the screen while you’re running to see heart rate, current pace, lap pace, or other stats.

Molly Young, New York’s literary critic (and a regular Strategist contributor) sold me on the new English translation of this French novel in her book-recommendation column and newsletter, Read Like the Wind. As Molly says, “The book revolves around an ensemble of horrible people … watching their privilege evaporate in real time and reacting with the full range of human ugliness.” So far, she’s spot-on and I’m really enjoying it.

Liza Corsillo, writer

When shopping for clothes, I force myself to first ask a series of questions before allowing myself to pull out my wallet. That’s because, in the past, I have gotten overly excited by colors, patterns, textures, or some other fun design element and lost sight of whether the thing I am buying will actually help me get dressed in the morning or just hang in my closet for all eternity. The questions usually include some version of “Do you like this because it’s wacky? Or do you like it because it looks good on you?” This sweater from Moussy is one of the very rare items that checks both boxes. It’s cozy, flattering, and it looks like a deconstructed muppet. I would like to be buried in it.

On the other hand, I bought this skirt because it’s not wacky at all. I knew it would be flattering and would encourage me to opt out of jeans more often. Plus, it looks very hot librarian with a turtleneck and loafers. I bought it in navy because I have a mostly blue-leaning closet. But now that it’s on sale, I’m thinking I should perhaps buy one in a mustardy brown, too. Twenty bucks just seems too crazy-good a deal for something I will definitely wear for years to come.

Katy Schneider, editor

Photo: Courtesy of Tourists

My purchase of note this month was experiential: a night at Tourists, a newish hotel in the Berkshires. It was so completely lovely. There were tahini cookies at the front desk, extremely cozy robes in the rooms, and it’s located right near MASS MoCA and a bunch of really great antique stores. I was happy there.

At one of said great antique stores, I walked away with an extremely, almost insanely well-priced Percival Lafer lounge chair, and the purchase gave me such an intense buyer’s high that I found myself whistling for the rest of the day.

My friends and I have been attempting to get a book club started for a couple of months now, and we decided for our first, yet-to-be-scheduled meeting to read the very buzzy new Ben Lerner. So, like a true parody of myself, I popped by Greenlight in Fort Greene and grabbed a copy after picking up some stupidly expensive cheese at the Greene Grape.

Jenna Milliner-Waddell, junior writer

The quest to furnish my apartment continues. This dining table and bench set was the last of the necessities. I first came across it while working on our list of the best-reviewed dining sets on Amazon, and figured it would match my other fake-wood furnishings. I was also impressed by the reviews, which say it is great for small spaces, sturdy, and easy to assemble. It hasn’t arrived yet, but I’m hoping to find that all of these things are true. I actually bought mine from Walmart (it was more expensive on Amazon when I bought it), but now both places have it for the same price.

I thought Sephora’s VIB sale was a good time to stock up on splurgy items, like this nearly $70 foundation. It’s definitely pricey, but like most things I’ve tried from Pat McGrath, it’s worth it. It’s lightweight, buildable, and I feel wealthy wearing it.

Jessica Silvester, contributing editor

Oh my God, this coat. It’s like I manifested it. I wished for an enormous down coat that didn’t look like every other down coat — then this suddenly popped up in my Twitter feed. In fact, I’d been wanting to buy an Aritzia jacket for a couple of years now, ever since my obsessive-shopper friend said that theirs are the warmest — even warmer than her Moncler. But none of them excited me. Until now. This thing is less Michelin Man than the tent they might use to cover the Michelin Man at night. It comes in one size, and only two colors, but I don’t know why anyone would want it in a color other than this universally flattering shade of Gatorade blue. And if my descriptions up to this point paint a picture of a simply ridiculous garment, please know that New Yorkers from all walks seem to see the appeal in it. An incredibly chic colleague at this magazine told me she thought it might’ve been Balenciaga. A delivery man on the street said: “That’s a great coat! You gotta be naked under that coat when you come home to your husband.” And I swear the remark was not at all offensive or creepy. I really think this is just one of those pieces that has a strange effect on people.

Dominique Pariso, writer

After spending the first week of November shopping my way through Scandinavia, I put myself on a serious spending freeze for the rest of the month. And then the Maryam Nassir Zadeh sample sale happened and I wasn’t strong enough to resist. I was extremely taken with these Mary Jane–style flats that feel like something a very sophisticated schoolgirl might wear. The only pair in my size came in a bright green that already has me fantasizing about sock color combos for spring. But I also love them in white.

I also bought a new calendar for 2020 from our favorite water-swigging comedienne Caroline Goldfarb. I buy one every single year. Her Lisa Frank–esque celebrity collages are unparalleled.

Anthony Rotunno, senior editor

To me, salad spinners have always seemed a necessary evil — with their handiness come some impracticalities, namely, the chore of washing all the various parts and the fact that they take up a lot of cabinet or drawer space. So when Alexis shared Florence Fabricant’s piece on the Salad Sling — a super-absorbent towel meant to be a spinner alternative — I bought one. So far, I’ve only used it once (it was on back order), but the Sling is promising: You plop just-washed lettuce in the middle of the towel, gather it by its four extra-long corners to create a sack, and then twirl the sack around, letting the force of your twirling push the water from lettuce into cloth. It’s all much faster than setting up a spinner, and a bit more fun. And when I was done, I just brushed the excess lettuce bits off and let it dry overnight. The Sling is also very easy to store; it has a loop sewn on so you can hang it from a hook, but since it’s a basically a dish towel, you can also just stuff it in a drawer.

This was a birthday gift for my husband. For years, he’s been wearing a kids’ XL Nuptse that an old friend’s mom won at a church raffle, so it was time to upgrade. (That said, we here at Strategist fully endorse combing a children’s section to find deals on stuff we’d otherwise pay more for in adult sizes.) Like the Nuptse, it’s got that classic North Face puffer look. But this coat is slightly longer, keeping more of his torso warm, and it has a nice, actually usable hood.

Another birthday gift for the husband. We’ve gone all in on roll-necks this year, with now about seven in our closet. The majority are from J.Crew, which (for now) does a good, easy one. The fisherman knit is a nice addition to the many more basic ones we own, and the navy color is a nice twist on the cream you normally see fisherman sweaters in.

Make that eight roll-necks in our closet. When I saw the green, it seemed too good a fall color not to add to our stash.

Hilary Reid, writer

I first saw these jeans online three months ago, and was just totally gripped by the need to own them. The “wine red” color appeared to be the ideal non-neutral neutral to wear with my gray and tan sweaters (like the one I got at Uniqlo last month), and the straight cut seemed ideal. I wasn’t going to spend $300 on them, though, so I waited patiently until a week ago, when they finally went on sale. I snagged the last ones in my size, and they’re perfect. I look forward to wearing them at least twice a week for the foreseeable future.

After writing about affordable puffers, I started wanting one myself, and went to Uniqlo probably four times before deciding on this black one. I’ve worn it almost every day since. It’ll sound obvious to anyone who wears a down coat, but I’m still surprised by how warm it is despite being lightweight. And while I do like the look of bright puffers, the black feels a little more versatile — I even wore it to the opera recently (I put a fur stole around the collar to dress it up).

If you’re not familiar with Caspari, I’ll direct you to Tony’s excellent ode to the brand’s cocktail napkins (items that I knew well, since my mom has basically been stockpiling them for as long as I can remember). I second Tony’s rec for the napkins, and will add: pocket tissues! Yes, they’re more expensive than what you can get in the checkout line at Walgreens, but they’re also more beautiful. My latest pack features a 19th-century ballroom scene, which, according to Caspari’s site, commemorates the Duchess of Devonshire’s Diamond Jubilee Ball given at Chatsworth in 1897.

Rio Viera-Newton, writer

I bought this side table on a whim a few weeks ago and I love it! I was skeptical of the quality due to the price — usually ceramics of this size are much more expensive. But it really does look just like the photo (if not better) in person. It immediately brought so much character to my living room. I plopped it next to my sofa, put a little coffee-table book and pretty candle on top — et voilà!

Speaking of which, I love this candle! It’s a great mid-priced, 40-hour burn candle that smells somehow both fresh and cozy, with its beautiful mix of zesty, warm orange and spicy cinnamon. It makes me nostalgic for the orange tree in my childhood back yard, while simultaneously getting me into the holiday spirit. Also, the illustration on the jar is beautiful!

Lauren Ro, writer

From $519

I feel so ashamed, that, I, a Strategist writer, pulled the rookiest move by purchasing a big-ticket item mere weeks before Black Friday without even the thought of it possibly going on sale crossing my mind. If I may explain myself: I was saving a Buy Buy Baby’s 20 percent coupon for the stroller. But, of course, as these things go, it turned out that it wasn’t eligible for the discount. By that point, my husband and I were feeling desperate to get back into shape, so we bought it anyway using a cash-back promotion we had on our Amazon credit card, which was sort of like getting a discount. But then, a couple of days ago, I saw that Buy Buy Baby had started its Black Friday sale early, and lo and behold, the same stroller was now 20 percent off. And Amazon also had it for 20 percent off. We could have gotten it for $100 less, which pains me to think about, but in the end we saved about $50. That isn’t so bad, considering we got the stroller one week earlier and were able to squeeze in an extra run before the holidays. Of course, we didn’t need the stroller to go for a run, but it has motivated us to work out — fun family activity! — which, I suppose, you can’t put a price on. Or so I tell myself.

As for the stroller itself, it’s fantastic: light, so smooth, well made, and has even replaced the Vista as our daily stroller. We were deciding between this and the Bob, which are basically tied as the best jogging stroller among experts, but went with the Thule because it’s 3.2 pounds lighter. Yes, I realize it’s going to get really cold really soon, but the park is closer to us than any gym, which leads me to the next item on my haul …

One thing the Buy Buy Baby coupon was good for was this ridiculously priced stroller sleeping-bag thing that we got for Augie. There are definitely cheaper ones, but this looked the coziest (and most stylish). It reminded me of a Moncler puffer. There’s really no good reason to spend $200 on a glorified blanket, but all the reviews said it was the warmest one out there, and I actually think it’s true. He’s looked (and felt) super-toasty each time, and even a little sweaty, which makes me think that he doesn’t need to wear a jacket on warmer days. On our inaugural run with the stroller, he napped beneath this the whole time in sub-40-degree weather (it has a temperature rating of -4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Photo: Old Navy

After two stylish women recommended Old Navy’s Rockstar jeans as universally flattering (and their favorite black work pants) I had to try them. At $35 a pop (I got them on sale for less), it was a low-risk purchase, and I am thrilled to report that everything the two women said about them — that they’re “tight but also supersoft and stretchy” and that they “suck you in in the right places” and are “supercomfortable” — is correct. They fit me like a glove and hit my ankle at just the right spot (as a short person, I love that I was able to choose the inseam length). All black skinny jeans look more or less identical, and I now realize that there is never a reason to spend more than $35 on a pair because these Old Navy jeans are not merely serviceable, they’re actually great.

Maxine Builder, managing editor

To celebrate my birthday this month, I threw a house party, and, if I do say so myself, it was very fun! Part of the fun, though, was decorating my apartment for the occasion. I hung a cactus-shaped piñata, put up a Yee-Haw banner (that I haven’t actually taken down yet), and set out this inflatable, cactus-shaped cooler. It did not leak, it insulated well, and it kept the beer and Topo Chico crispy cold. Also, it’s just an excellent, kitschy decoration that made me smile all night long. (In fact, I love it so much, I am even considering decorating it with Christmas lights for the holidays.)

As I write this, I’m starting to realize that I might be in denial about getting older, because the only other thing I bought in November was a yearlong subscription to Thrasher. (It came with a free T-shirt.)

Chloe Anello, junior writer

I mostly just bought food, gas, and holiday gifts this month, but in order not to spoil the surprises for my friends and family, I can’t disclose what I got them just yet. However, I also bought a couple of basic white tees from Uniqlo for myself. I think the shape of these are particularly flattering, and the heavyweight fabric works well for layering in this late-fall, early-winter weather.

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.

The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in November