sunday circular

10 Products That Delighted Us Last Week: From Wedding Dresses to Desk Lamps

Photo-Illustration: retailer

We write about hundreds of products a week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked out some of our favorites — expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly-launched gizmos, and the very good deals we uncovered while trolling through the vast online-shopping universe this past week, including The Simpsons cast on a favorite sneaker, a must-have tool for living on campus this fall, and a would-be Congressman’s favorite face mask.

A better way to hand-wash clothes

In her deep dive into the world of portable washing machines, Strategist junior writer Kayla Levy learned that this one — which comes recommended by our friends at Curbed — would be as handy on the road as it would be in the house. While intended for washing while you travel, there’s no reason you couldn’t use the Scrubba (which, we know, is not technically a machine) over your sink or tub. Levy explains that it has an “internal washboard for portable laundry; all you have to do is add clothing, water, and cleaning liquid to the bag, and scrub your clothes clean.” A Curbed editor adds: “The pocket-size bag weighs less than five ounces, produces a machine-quality wash in three minutes, and is twice as effective as hand-washing.”

A must-have tool for living on campus, according to experts

To help those students (or parents of students) who are preparing to return to college campuses this fall, our senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson spoke to doctors, public-health experts, and education professionals about things one may need to practice good hygiene in classrooms, dorms, or any other shared spaces. One doctor suggests sending students back with a portable UV light like this “to quickly kill germs on common surfaces” like shared computer terminals. Writes Adelson: “As microbiologist Alex Berezow told the Strategist, ‘UV light is lethal to bacteria and viruses because of its high frequency that scrambles and damages their nuclear material.’ Because they’re reusable (this one should last 10,000 hours according to the manufacturer) UV-light wands are a good alternative to sold-out disinfectant sprays and wipes.”

Sunday Riley on sale

End-of-summer sale season is heating up, with Dermstore kicking off its always reliably good anniversary sale last week ahead of Nordstrom’s (also always reliably good) anniversary “event” that starts for all shoppers on August 19. (Nordstrom cardholders can shop it now.) Of all the deals on Strategist-approved products at Dermstore, 20 percent off Sunday Riley’s cult-favorite Good Genes exfoliator is, according to us, “a rare discount.” And it’s not the only deal on Sunday Riley during the Dermstore sale: “The UFO oil, CEO Glow Serum, and enzyme cream,” are discounted too, we note.

A fashionable, functional (and genuinely affordable) fanny pack

Another sale find last week was this fanny pack, cool people’s vessel of choice these days for carrying essentials while keeping hands free to bike, walk the dog, or run errands. We note the “snake-embossed bag is available in sizes XXS to XXL” and, at almost half off, its price may just be too good to resist for anyone who’s been on the fence about living the fanny life.

A space-saving hook for hanging masks by a front door …

“Like any other wardrobe staple, we now not only have to think about how best to take care of face masks, but where to store them when we’re not wearing them,” Strategist writer Lauren Ro says in replying to a reader who asked us to help them find “cute pegs or hooks” to hang masks on by a front door. Among the 20 options Ro surfaced is this slender, branch-like rack. According to her, “A vertically mounted rack of hooks like this one will save you horizontal wall space. With six branchlike arms that rotate 180 degrees from the center, you can hang your prettiest, most embellished masks on it, et voilà: a mask tree.”

… and a (would-be) congressman’s favorite face mask

Come November, the U.S. Capitol may be slightly less stuffy should Jamaal Bowman, the Democratic candidate for a New York City congressional seat, win his election (given the city’s voting history, he’s almost certain to). That’s because we expect Bowman to continue wearing Wu-Tang masks, which “became sort of a signature during the campaign,” to its hallowed halls if elected. “Hip-hop is the culture that raised me, along with my mother, and now Wu-Tang is what helped me connect with the people I met on the campaign trail,” says Bowman, who, along with Nicky Hilton, Noah founder Brendon Babenzian, and dozens of other cool people, told Strategist writers Hilary Reid and Louis Cheslaw about the face masks they wear to show some personal flair. (The exact style of Wu-Tang mask Bowman told us about has sold out, but this one is still available.)

A one-of-a-kind wedding dress

Photo: Retailer

Speaking of Nicky Hilton, she is one of 23 celebrities who donated quite rare personal belongings to Strategist’s first-ever celebrity auction, called What I Can Live Without, which opened for bids last week. Among the lots — which include snowboards, rare records, and a mosquito-repellent shawl owned by Catherine Zeta-Jones — is this one-of-a-kind wedding dress donated and designed by fashion designer Betsey Johnson. “In the mid-1980s, I designed three wedding dresses. But I never went into production with them; each would’ve cost about $1,500, and I never wanted any of my clothes to cost more than $1,000,” Johnson told us. “I got rid of two of the dresses over the years — I gave one to my granddaughter, and I sold one at a yard sale — but I saved this one because I just loved it so much.” Although bids have risen from the dress’s starting price of $50, it’s still very much on the block, and the auction runs through August 19 — so, as the saying goes, don’t dillydally if you like it. (To see all the stuff you can bid on, head here.)

The Simpsons cast, on a favorite sneaker

And speaking of Don’t Dillydally, our latest edition features a couple of delightfully nostalgic drops, including a new line of Pokémon tech accessories and these sneakers from Vans’s pretty epic collaboration with The Simpsons. “Like the cast of Springfieldians itself,” we wrote, “the shoes run the gamut, but one of our favorites is this pair of slip-ons featuring a print of that cast of Springfieldians. (They are just one of the 55 styles of shoes released as part of the collaboration.)”

A non-obvious-looking desk lamp

The right desk lamp, writes Ro, can “make even the most cobbled-together desks look a bit more put together.” To find the best desk lamps at a range of prices, she talked to a bunch of people with good eyes for aesthetics — like architects and interior designers — about their favorites, one of whom raved about this model for looking a touch more unusual than every other desk lamp. “I prefer lamps that don’t look like an obvious desk lamp,” says the decorator who recommended it, adding that the “sleek lamp provides enough light without compromising good design aesthetics.”

And a heavy-duty cleaner to combat cat sweat

Yes, cat sweat. It’s a very particular problem faced by owners of hairless cats, according to Strategist contributor Duncan Goodwin, who recently wrote about the extra stuff he and his husband (a Strategist senior editor) use to take care of their sphynx, Pebbles. “Just like human sweat, cat sweat will stain things. One of Pebbles’s favorite places to nap is on our antique sofa upholstered in millennial-pink velvet, which looks less and less pink after every nap. We tried a few products to remove the stains, but they all just made the areas look more pronounced. Then my brother-in-law told us about Whip-It, a product his cleaning-obsessed mom swears by. It’s proven to be the most effective thing we’ve found at eliminating Pebbles’s sweat stains, fading them to the point that you wouldn’t necessarily notice them unless you know they are there.” (Cat sweat, we should note, is surely one of the many stains this “multipurpose” solution seems capable of tackling.)

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.

10 Products That Delighted Us Last Week on the Strategist