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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in March

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 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 March.

Katy Schneider, senior editor

The Interestings

During this stressful time (a lame way to describe this nightmare, alas), I have decided to only read books and watch movies I find comforting. Last week, I remembered how much I enjoyed Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings when I first read it the summer after I graduated college in 2014, and reordered it. It kept me off my phone the entire weekend. It is thoroughly distracting, fun, engaging, and light (but well-written, it’s a Wolitzer). I found myself reading it in the shower — as in, held out in front of me — so I wouldn’t have to spend any time with my own thoughts the other night. Not the bath. The shower.

I’m holed up in my childhood home with my entire family and we’ve been engaging in regular “group fitness.” We ordered four yoga mats — one for me, my sister, my mom, and my boyfriend (my dad has so far declined to participate) — so we can follow along to my mom’s favorite online class, which the rest of us are finding deeply strenuous: the Refine Method.

Casey Lewis, senior editor

I truthfully haven’t purchased much this month, aside from panic-buying beans and Muir Glen tomatoes. But I did buy two extra pairs of my beloved Madewell leggings, bringing the total count up to eight. That’s almost the smartest thing I’ve done this month, second only to buying the last extra-large tub of Clorox wipes at my local grocer.

I did get a somewhat impractical jean skirt from Madewell during their sale. (In my defense, I bought it before the stay-at-home order was implemented.) I’ve been wearing it around my apartment, pretending that it’s spring and I’m outside frolicking in the park. It’s really an ideal jean skirt — satisfyingly thick denim, a great vintage-looking wash, and a very now (but not too trendy) Western-inspired yoke detail at the waist. It says it’s stretch, and I suppose it is, but it’s also substantial enough to feel like it might have belonged to my mom in the ’70s.

Dominique Pariso, writer

My love of quarantine-friendly work pants has been documented, but I still wanted some nice sweats to while away the evenings in. I’ve been eying the Entireworld monochrome sets for some time, and this order to work from home (and their sale from a few weeks back) made me cave. I actually went for their lighter Loop Back sweatsuit — which is currently sold out in the lovely robin-egg-blue color I chose. But this brushed set is probably even cozier.

$11 for 12

Pre-quarantine, I was the kind of person who barely kept food in my fridge. Now, I’m the type of person who takes comfort in the domestic arts. While I’ve been working my way through Alison Roman’s oeuvre, I’ve decided to up my game: bread-making, pickling, and jam-making. Not only is the process itself super meditative, but it also makes me feel how I imagine the survivalists feel: in control, prepared, and with enough orange marmalade and good bread to ride out the end of social distancing.

Lauren Ro, writer

I’ve shamelessly joined my colleagues Hilary, Katy, and Alexis in the Agnes B. Snap Cardigan Club, and I’m so glad I did. I had a bad case of the “shoppies” earlier this month, but I couldn’t think of anything that would scratch that itch. But then I was reminded of the iconic cardigan in this article, from the Cut’s Emilia Petrarca, and suddenly wanted to be part of the “pretentiously unpretentious” inner circle. I opted for the Rosana, which is slimmer than the boxier Le Classique, in black. As soon as I tried it on, I felt instantly put-together, and, needless to say, like a cool French mom. It was my last in-store clothing purchase before the pandemic, and I can’t wait to wear it outside.

At the office, I had a collection of desk essentials — a water bottle, lip balm, and hand lotion — always at the ready. But at home, it was a free-for-all, and I kept forgetting to drink water and moisturize my hands and lips. So I decided to treat myself by surrendering to the siren call of a large-capacity Hydro Flask (with a straw) in the name of hydration and productivity. Even though I grimaced at the $50 price tag at first, I think it was worth it (for the most part). I love the soothing color I got (fog), the convenient straw that’s just easier to drink out of, and the fact that I don’t have to constantly refill it. One thing I should note, though: I was bummed when I found a tiny dent on the bottom of the bottle after my husband accidentally banged it (ever so slightly) against something. It’s hardly noticeable, but I feel like a $50 water bottle should be able to withstand a little knocking around.

Maxine Builder, managing editor

I’ve been playing The Sims 4 long before Sandy Liang said it was cool. And though, until now, I’ve loaded up on the more realistic expansion packs — like the one that lets you have dogs or cats, or the one that lets you go to college, or the one that lets you build a tiny home — I figured social distancing would be a good time to try out one of the weirder ones. Specifically, StrangerVille, which takes place in this Roswell-like town with a very chic desert aesthetic. Your Sim goes on a quest to figure out why strange things are happening, all while dressed in a Batsheva-esque prairie dress and cowboy boots (or at least my Sim is), and the story has been a delightful distraction from the real pandemic happening outside my door.

I am also deeply grateful for my Kindle this month, since I can get new books without leaving my home. I finished My Dark Vanessa over the weekend, and I just downloaded Sarah Gerard’s Binary Star.

Chloe Anello, junior writer

Someone told me recently that my boyfriend and I are starting to dress alike — we wear a lot of Champion hoodies and Uniqlo sweatpants — which I guess is to be expected after four years together. But I wasn’t thrilled with the statement, so I bought some new comfy clothes to prevent us from twinning in the future and add to my rotation while I’m working from home. This sweatshirt came recommended to me by a source for an upcoming story, and she made it sound so good, I had to buy it. Now, I might get it in more colors while it’s still on sale.

These looked cozy, too, and were on major sale, so I figured why not?

Louis Cheslaw, writer

An expert I spoke to about working from home put me on to this affordable, collapsible laptop stand. It lies flat, fastened securely to the bottom of your laptop unless you choose to unfurl it, at which point there are two height settings you can choose from. It’s helped me keep my head up when working, which has been a miracle for avoiding neck pain, and is also just generally fun to fidget with. And if you have any doubts from the picture, don’t: It’s incredibly sturdy. Truly, it’s as if my laptop grew a pair of hind legs.

Another recommendation I stole from a source were these slides, recommended to me by wunderkind chef Flynn McGarry. He likes the regular Hoka sneakers, but mentioned in passing that they also make slides, “for extremists.” I took that as a challenge and ordered a pair. They’ve been great. They’re designed for increased arch support, which helps to fight pain in your joints and back, and are incredibly comfortable. They’re also an additional way to distinguish between day clothes and bed clothes.

Karen Iorio Adelson, senior writer

My husband and I decamped to Long Island this weekend to ride out the coronavirus at his parents’. Unlike our place in the city, their house has a backyard where we’ll be able to get some much-needed, socially distanced fresh air. We also brought our cat, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to try out a leash and harness set to bring her outside with us. I haven’t tried it out yet (we’re letting her get used to her new indoor surroundings first), and I anticipate she won’t take to the idea immediately, but I do think it’ll be a lot of fun if and when she eventually does.

Jenna Milliner-Waddell, junior writer

I’ve been wanting a pair of noise-canceling headphones for a while, because I’m very sensitive to sound. So when my downstairs neighbor plays music so loud it rattles the floor of my living room turned home office, and my refrigerator mysteriously moans throughout the day, and my roommate slurps her tea from a spoon because “that’s just how she drinks tea,” my want turned into a need. When these went on sale at Nordstrom a couple weeks ago, I quickly ordered them, and thankfully, they arrived in just two days. Honestly, these don’t shut everything out as I was hoping, but it’s a huge improvement, and these headphones keep slurping sounds to a minimum. I also love that they can be connected to two devices at once so I can go from listening to music on my laptop to watching TikToks on my phone seamlessly.

I was late to the game on getting my home gym together, so by the time I was searching for dumbbells to buy everything was either sold out or not shipping till the end of April. I had completely forgotten about Dick’s until now, and apparently, so did everyone else because they still had some in stock. They are priced similarly to the ones I would have ordinarily ordered from Amazon or gone to Target and picked up, but given the current global pandemic, the relatively fast five-day shipping turnaround sold me.

Liza Corsillo, writer

Photo: kabir fernandez

This was not a useful purchase by any means, since I probably won’t be carrying my laptop more than ten feet in any direction for the foreseeable future. But looking at it sitting on my desk, all puffed up and cute makes me really happy. Before we all started self-isolating, and before they launched this daisy print, I was considering buying Baggu’s laptop sleeve in hot pink. I’m glad I waited.

Jungmaven makes the softest, slouchiest, feel-good T-shirts on the planet. They’re a small, sustainably minded business that makes clothing out of hemp because of the plant’s positive environmental impact. I bought this long-sleeve tee in a pretty, perfect purple to support them, but also to add a happy color to my working-from-home wardrobe which was previously all black, dark green, and navy.

Hilary Reid, writer

I’d been meaning to buy a new yoga mat for a while, and this month was definitely the time. I had my eye on Jade’s Harmony, although didn’t want to spend the $80 — luckily, a friend who was also shopping for a mat sent me a link to this one, which was half the price. It’s called the “Level 1” mat, but honestly feels exactly the same to me as the more expensive version (and also turned out to be the mat recommended by the Sky Ting founders when we asked them about what you need to work out at home.)

I also bought some Soffe shorts, a.k.a. the preferred shorts of former Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens (who called them “the first cousin of Patagonia baggies”) and me, circa 2005 at summer camp. My desk is right next to the radiator, which tends to blast heat directly on my legs, so my WFH fits consist mostly of shorts and long sleeves. I ordered this pair of cheap, dead stock French track shorts, too, which haven’t arrived yet — but I’m looking forward to having a bigger collection of semi-athletic shorts for wearing around the house and (someday) outside.

Tembe Denton-Hurst, writer

One of my friends recently bought a pug puppy, and I’ve been plotting on a gift for her ever since. I peeped this Dusen Dusen sweater during one of my many late-night crawls through Nordstrom’s offerings, and took the opportunity to buy it during their spring sale. It’s perfect for my friend, whose style is somewhere between eclectic, kitsch, and minimal, and will keep her dog warm for many seasons and walks to come.

I’ve been using social distancing as an opportunity to get back into crocheting, even though during a fit of Marie Kondo-ing I’d thrown all of my precious needles and yarn away (like sheer sweaters, it had all of a sudden stopped bringing me joy). I bought a set of needles via Amazon that were actually pretty incredible for the price — they came with a full set of crochet hooks, weaving needles, and markers — along with some 100 percent cotton yarn in an array of hues. A note about the yarn: The skeins were much smaller in person than I expected, so temper your expectations if you decide to order too!

Alexis Swerdloff, Strategist editor

Most of what I bought this month has been stuff to occupy my very active 19-month-old son who is spending a lot more time indoors. In a moment of hysteria I placed a big order of toys and here’s what he loves: this crawl tunnel, which I learned about from our gift guide for 1-year-olds, has been a big hit. He’s at the age where he likes burrowing in little nooks (the cabinet under our sink, for instance, is his favorite spot in the house) and this gives him an enclosed space to play in. Plus, it folds up into basically nothing.

He’s a little too young to fully “get” Magna Tiles, but he has figured out how they work, and can sit actually quietly and click and clack them together for up to ten minutes at a time — which is the grown-up equivalent of three hours.

The best $1.99 I spent this month is on Elmo Calls, an app that simulates a FaceTime chat with Elmo. About once a day during a tantrum or a particularly frustrating moment, I’ll pull out my phone and say, “Hey, should we call Elmo?” and every single time (knock on wood) it makes him laugh, and he immediately forgets about the lamp cord that I won’t let him put in his mouth.

Jessica Silvester, contributing editor

After early morning swim practice in the late ’80s, my mom always used to dress me in the perfect crew-neck sweatsuit sets: They not only made me feel all cuddled up after emerging shivering from an unheated outdoor pool, but also — because top and bottom matched, they were essentially “outfits” — like I was ready to start the day. Now, prompted by self-isolation (which is kind of like trying to stay afloat in frigid water?), I went and discovered the Hanes Ecosmart line, which has allowed me to become a child soothed by her sweats all over again. I wear them in the same color head to toe — my favorite is the Papa Smurf blue — and it’s suddenly like there’s some order in the world.

Rio Viera Newton, writer

Historically, my apartment had some Band-Aids here and some Neosporin there, but this month I decided to invest in a fully stocked first aid kit. You never know when cooking accidents are going to happen, and with doctors and hospitals lacking resources, now’s the time to be prepared to take care of as much as you can (within reason, of course) at home.

Like Katy, I bought this BalanceFrom yoga mat this month. It’s long enough to handle my mountain climbers and doesn’t slide around the apartment while I’m working out. Most days, I try and get in some cardio by following Mad Fit’s YouTube videos. But when I want a more relaxing, meditative workout I do Love Yoga’s online Zoom classes. (If you turn on your camera they give you corrections, so it actually feels like a real class.)

Anthony Rotuno, senior editor

After working with Sandy Liang on her ode to her favorite Merrell clogs, a rep for the brand kindly offered to send me a pair of Merrells to try myself. I’ve never owned Merrells before, but with the help of Katy, I chose the slip-on Jungle Mocs, which are kind of like clogs (a style of shoe I’ve also never owned). Due to some sizing issues, the first pair I received didn’t fit — and then the coronavirus officially became a pandemic. So I figured that would be the end of that, and I would just have to wait to become a Merrell Person and a Clog Person. Cut to mid-March, when the rep resurfaced and offered to send my correct size to me at home. To me, that spoke volumes about the brand (or at least the type of people it works with). And now, I am happy to say that I am both a Merrell Person and a Clog Person, having worn the shoes pretty much every day since they arrived — even though I’ve rarely left the house.

Talk to anyone with a pet, and they will likely tell you that their animal has provided a boon of emotional support during these otherwise troubling times. So you could say these tartar-fighting treats were a thank-you to my cat, Pebbles, for doing just that. But they are also an investment in preventative dental care: The brand came specifically recommended by our vet as the one to use to prevent tartar buildup — which, as anyone who’s paid to have their pet’s teeth cleaned knows, can result in a treatment that costs hundreds of dollars.

Peter Martin, senior editor

Our daughter is 21 months old, and she’s never had a haircut. Her hair is unkempt and obviously adorable, but it’s also constantly hanging in her face. After trying to use snap barrettes and finding it impossible to actually get any hair in them or put them on without pushing against her head and hurting her, I’ve learned that alligator clips are the choice for me. Unlike most of the options on Amazon, these crocheted animals are not overly girly (why do people like these frilly bows and nearly life-size roses?) and easy for me to use. She seems to like them, too.

If I’m gonna be quarantined, I’m gonna be snacking.

Kayla Levy, editorial intern

At this point it’s well known that the most helpful thing nonessential workers can do right now is stay indoors — a social imperative that has left me feeling pretty helpless. But as someone who is fortunate to still have remote work, it felt important to spend intentionally this month, including shopping at local stores (online), and buying some groceries from wholesale providers in an effort to support the food-service industry. Through my neighborhood’s mutual-aid network Facebook page I also found and donated to a local emergency fund for hourly workers that’s giving monetary donations in $150 increments — one of hundreds of coronavirus funds on GoFundMe, where you can give to everything from education nonprofits to front line responders.

From $3

Very little felt funny this month, but the My Talking Pet app made my entire family (and all of my roommates) really laugh. Like pee-your-pants, in tears, belly laughs. Just as its name suggests, My Talking Pet is an app that allows you to overlay your voice, or one of many preloaded clips, to a picture of your pet. My uncle, a middle-school teacher, first used the app to send his students a minute-long movie review voiced by his dog, Snowy Snowflake (which you can watch here). He then showed My Talking Pet to my mom, who promptly downloaded it and spent an entire day voicing the supposed inner thoughts of our cats, Felix and Oscar. My family has already spent years claiming that we can communicate with Felix and Oscar, so this app was a perfectly irreverent (indoor) activity. My Talking Pet comes with a free three-day trial, after which you pay $2.99 a month (or $23.99 for the full year, since we’ll be staying inside for the foreseeable future).

Leah Muncy, editorial intern

I’m not paleo, but I do like to keep my sugar intake in check. I found these Paleo Puffs in Whole Foods, but you can get them at any health-food store, on their own website, or on Amazon. They’re crunchy and airy and salty and just delicious. The Honey Roasted are made with coconut oil and not-too-sweet powdered honey, so they melt on your tongue. I alternate between that and “No Cheese” Cheesiness, which are made from nutritional yeast, garlic, and sweet potatoes. They have a rich flavor that is sort of like cheese, but they mainly just taste … good. I’m not near a Whole Foods or any health-food stores right now, so I just bought this six-pack of the Honey Roasted to keep my pantry well-stocked.

Is it 1970? 2000? Who knows, but flares are back, baby. I used to work on Everlane’s remote customer service team, so I consider myself a bit of an Everlane expert. I don’t really like a lot of Everlane denim; the thigh and waist are often too snug for my liking. But, but, but! The Modern Flare is absolutely perfect. They’ve got just the right amount of stretch so they don’t bag out throughout the day. They make your legs look miles long, and I’ve got a little extra room in the waist so that I can breathe. I took my usual Everlane size in the black (though the washes probably all run differently, as I find they often do), and though I’m barely five-foot-two they’re the perfect length with two-and-a-half-inch heels. I’ve even been wearing them almost daily while I WFH too, which really says something.

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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in March