sunday circular

11 Products That Delighted Us Last Week: From CD Players to Cheese Grottos

Photo: Retailers

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 a cult-favorite sweater in the menswear community, a shimmery lipstick made for NYE, and a “wearable sleeping bag.”

A CD player made for spinning K-pop albums

In speaking to a bunch of K-pop fans about the best gifts for people like themselves, writer Dominique Pariso uncovered a surprising fact: While fans collect albums, she writes, “it’s not always so they can play the CD inside, according to K-pop fan Rov R., who told us ‘the CDs can end up collecting dust in their cases.’” But a gadget like this one, Rov told Pariso, would encourage fans to actually break out their CDs because it displays them through its cover and can even be hung on a wall to make the CD player look more like décor. K-pop fan Evie W., who recommended this exact model to us, agrees: “It’s relatively small, looks nice, and can work as décor as well.” (It can also work as a DVD player, thanks to a port that accommodates a cable you can use to connect it to a TV or projector.)

Some Baggies-like pants (that are actually made for bouldering)

Perhaps the Baggies-wearing man (or woman or person) in your life has yet to find a longer alternative to their favorite technical shorts. If so, these pants made for bouldering — a hobby contributor James Lynch describes as “a little different from climbing” because “it doesn’t involve ropes and happens only a few feet off the ground” — may be just what they’re looking for. Unlike other heavier-duty pants, Lynch says these “have all the technical features you need, including super flexible fabric and a gusseted crotch, without any of the embellishments that make you feel like a Sir Edmund Hillary wannabe or the lazy features that imply that your diet consists primarily of Funyuns. They have a slim cut and — maybe most important — a zipper fly that, despite the internal drawstring waist, makes it clear that you’re not wearing loungewear.” Though, while the pants may not look like loungewear, Lynch adds they do perform like it, calling them “the perfect WFH pants.”

A shimmery lipstick made for NYE

2021, at long last, is within view — and just because we may not usher it in as we normally would doesn’t mean New Year’s Eve can’t be festive. Which is exactly where this new Charlotte Tilbury lipstick from our latest installment of Don’t Dillydally comes in. “The formula contains vitamin E, which moisturizes and smooths the lips,” we wrote of the pH-activated lipstick that, once applied, “settles into a flattering pink shade with a hint of sparkle.”

A cult-favorite sweater in the menswear community

As Strategist writer Louis Cheslaw reminds us, “No winter wardrobe is complete without at least one great sweater that can keep you warm both inside and out (and, ideally, look good on Zoom, too.)” If you’re looking to add a new one to your closet, he spoke to some 20 cool people to find the best men’s sweaters, from turtlenecks to cardigans to zip-ups. Among them is this fisherman-style L.L. Bean crewneck that one guy told Cheslaw he’s “had in his closet since high school.” Adds that guy: “It has been an L.L.Bean classic since the ’70s (if not earlier),” making it perhaps the brand’s most popular sweater within the menswear community, according to him.

A temperature-controlled home for artisan cheeses

Cheese Grotto
From $125
From $125

Like any other enthusiasts, cheese-lovers are known to spare no cost on their favorite hunks of fromage. That’s why a tool that properly preserves any uneaten bits can make for such a thoughtful (and cost-saving) gift, according to the cheese-obsessed people contributor Alexandra Ilyashov spoke to about the best gifts for cheese-lovers. Enter: This (luxuriously named) grotto, which one cheesemonger assures will ensure “cheese is at the perfect ambient temperature and humidity to keep it pristine until serving.”

A boundary-setting book for the kid whose first word was ‘no’

Photo: retailer

That’s more or less how contributor Liz Goldwyn, the founder of sexual health, consciousness, and education platform the Sex Ed, defines this title from her list of sex books for every type of person. “Not only will it allow parents to help teach kids that it’s okay to say ‘no’ to that overly affectionate aunt or uncle,” she writes, “but it’ll also show how not to hurt anyone’s feelings in the process.”

Two pairs of (hypoallergenic) hoops for the price of one

After a reader wrote to us for help finding nice-looking earrings made with materials that won’t cause allergic reactions, our writer Hilary Reid, with the help of some experts, took to the internet to find pairs that met the pros’ criteria for earrings that won’t irritate. One tip Reid got from dermatologists is to simply search for earrings marked “nickel-free,” which is exactly how this set of two gold-plated pairs from Target (that our writer Chloe Anello wore to her sister’s wedding) is advertised. Of the earrings, Anello told Reid: “They are so lightweight that I wore them from when I put them on in the morning until 10 or 11 at night with no issues.”

Toy cars that can propel themselves surprisingly far

“The coolest thing about the vehicles by far is how they move,” says Strategist writer Lauren Ro of these friction-powered cars that her toddler — and kids at playgrounds from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side — seemingly can’t get enough of. “Unlike a lot of toy cars that use a pullback-and-release mechanism, the ones in this set are powered by a so-called push-and-go friction motor that propels them farther than any of his other toy vehicles. To rev one up, you simply push it forward several times on the floor while applying a little pressure, then let it go. The more times you do this, the farther the toys will travel. While it took my son a few tries before he mastered the push-forward-and-release technique, he can now do it with ease. In addition to propelling them for longer stretches, the friction motors make the toys much better at navigating bumps and uneven surfaces. When they hit a wall or another obstacle, for example, they’ll somehow automatically change direction or spin around, leaving him cackling with glee.”

A sustainable (and more stylish) way to wrap gifts

Furoshiki are traditional Japanese cloths used to carry belongings and wrap gifts,” explains our writer Liza Corsillo. “Although they date back centuries, these square-shaped decorative fabrics that offer a sustainable alternative to paper gift wrapping really started gaining popularity outside of Japan in the past few years.” As Corsillo points out in her full story, the cloths can be wrapped in many ways and then reused in many others, from makeshift tote bags to sleeker ways to conceal wine. They can also come in many forms, including these cotton furoshiki from Anthropologie that Corsillo notes “are available in four exclusive and vibrant patterns.” (The price shown is for one cloth, not all four.)

The bra that model Beverly Johnson bought on a tip from Oprah

“I was watching The Oprah Winfrey Show, oh, I don’t know, a decade ago at this point, and she said, “Soma bras are the best bras in the world!” I was like, Yeah, okay. Whatever, Oprah,” the trailblazing Black model told us when we spoke to her about the things she can’t live without. “Then I was walking down the street, and next to Chico’s, I saw a Soma store. I went in and bought the bra she talked about on a whim. Oprah was right — this is the best bra. I’ve been buying them ever since. There’s no wire, and it’s made out of a really comfortable material. It covers everything really well and gives support without feeling constricting.”

And a ‘wearable sleeping bag’

In a winter when the outdoors are really the only safe place to socialize, you may be looking for every layer you can get your hands on (or body under). “Essentially an insulated suit,” says Strategist junior writer Kayla Levy, “I would describe the Selk’bag as a wearable, formfitting sleeping bag.” While it’s not a novel product — mountaineers have donned similarly designed suits for years — Levy points out that it does come at a more affordable price point than many others. The Selk’bag is also, she adds, “suited for city living, with lots of features that make it functional for activities like walking around the park or standing in line at the Park Slope Food Co-op. There’s a two-way zipper that gives you access into your pants pockets, so you can grab your wallet while checking out at a store, and the elastic hand enclosures double as gloves in a pinch. The wearable sleeping bag is filled with synthetic insulation, not down, so it’s not going to be destroyed in the rain, but it’s better suited for keeping you warm at slightly above-freezing temperatures than below.”

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.

11 Products That Delighted Us Last Week on the Strategist